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The Women of Tango Music

Think of tango music and an image of a man with a fedora, singing his soul out all for the love of a woman or Buenos Aires (or both) is easily conjured up. You could be forgiven for thinking that women tango singers don´t exist as so much of the popular tango music is sung by men and Carlos Gardel has his image well ingrained as THE singer of tango music.

But whilst driving in our car the other week, listening to one of the myriad of tango radio stations, I was pleasantly surprised to hear a very antique recording of a woman singing which got me thinking about how little I knew about the women who wove their own magic into tango music.

The Golden Age of Tango is generally agreed as being from the mid 1930s through to the early 1950s. Throughout this time there were many women who left their mark on the tango scene. Here we give you just a quick taste of three to whet your appetite.

Azucena Maizani

Azucena Maizani has been considered as the female equivelant of Carlos Gardel - rising quickly in the 1920s with her talent as a performer on stage and radio.  Not only a performer, she was also a lyricist and composer and her song ´Pero Yo Se´ was recorded by Angel D´Agostino in 1942.  Interestingly, she was knowing for portraying her female characters as suit wearing, tough yet sensitive and romantic male figures - a figure which is well ingrained in tango. She suffered many tragedies throughout her life and sadly died in 1970 after a stroke several years earlier that she never fully recovered from. She recorded 270 tracks during her career and here is one for your listening pleasure:


Libertad Lamarque

Libertad Lamarque was awarded the Konex Platinum Award for ¨Best Tango Singer in Argentina¨ in 1985, cementing her place in Tango Singer History.  An actress and a singer, she performed in film, stage and music throughout her career amassing a staggering amount of recordings (above 800) and appearing in 65 movies. Rumours abound about a rift between her and Eva Peron as they both appeared in La Cabalgata del Circo together and she had mentioned several times the lack of respect Peron had given to the film and those involved.


Ada Falcon

Setting Ada Falcon apart from her peers was her mezzo-soprano voice. At a time where most women singers were sopranos, Falcon reached fame through singing with the orchestra of Francisco Canaro. She recorded over 200 songs during the 20s and 30s - the peak of her career. She was involved romantically with Canaro but he refused to leave his wife. Suddenly in 1942, she withdrew from public life and became a recluse, eventually leaving behind all the glamour and expensive lifestyle she had previously thrived on and moved to Cordoba to live as a tertiary nun, eventually dying in 2002. She is buried in Chacarita Cemetary and there is a film about her life.


If this is something you would like to explore further, visit Female Tango Singers Milonga Project https://www.facebook.com/TangoFemenino/.  The woman running it has shown just how much female tango music there is out there that should be listened to. It makes for an interesting playlist with 173 songs available. It is also interesting to delve into the mostly tragic lives that these artists had, as dramatic and soulful as the music they sang.


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