Tania Libertad

Tania Libertad

Tania Libertad de Souza Zuniga, known as Tania Libertad, is a singer who was born in Peru on October 24, 1952 [http://www.diariolasamericas.com/news.php?nid=57947 Diario Las Americas. " Tania Libertad, una voz que eleva y seduce" by Iliana Lavastida Rodríguez. July 26, 2008.] ] and has lived in Mexico since 1978.

Musical Career

Childhood and Early Interest in Music

Libertad was born in the small town of Zaña on the coast of Northern Peru and raised in Chiclayo. [http://music.aol.com/artist/tania-libertad/biography/1024015 AOL Music. "Tania Libertad Biography."] ] Her father was Portuguese and worked as a policeman. Her father had very strong views on the roles of men and women in society. "Mi padre era un señor muy machista y bajo esa misma cultura nacieron y crecieron mis hermanos, así que siempre me decían 'tú eres la mujer y tú tienes que limpiar la casa'. Me hacían sufrir bastante," says Libertad. [http://www.eluniversal.com.mx/graficos/entrevistas/tanialibertad/lasemilladelfeminismo.htm El Universal. "Tania Libertad" por Paola Morales.] ] Her mother was of indigenous descent and was a nurse. Libertad was the only girl in a family of seven brothers. "It was a very controlled environment, a very machismo environment. I had one brother for each day of the week, plus a mother and father," says Libertad. "Even though I've tried to see it in a benevolent way, looking back, it's hard. I was in a small town where male society was very rigid."

Libertad first sang at the age of five in Chiclayo. "I started to sing to at the age of five, performing songs in the vals (Peruvian waltz) style and boleros - Latin ballads - both accompanied by the cajón," says Libertad. "My family didn't know I was singing. My father was in the military, my mother worked from seven in the morning till nine at night," says Libertad. "My eight older brothers took care of me—you can just imagine how that was." [http://mexicocooks.typepad.com/mexico_cooks/2007/09/one-voice-for-p.html Mexico Cooks. "One Voice for Peace: Tania Libertad" September 1, 2007] ] "Think of this, there I was, a little Peruvian girl in black patent leather shoes, singing an old Mexican song, "La Historia de un Amor" What in the world did I know about the story of love? But that's what I sang, my very first time on stage. I was five years old."

Libertad's father had her sing songs he had written to the women he loved - his mistresses, not his wife. "They were really terrible because they were all dedicated to women, other than my mother, and I had to sing them," says Libertad. "Singing my father's really terrible songs definitely made me aware of what was good music and what was bad music. And his songs were really bad!" But Libertad also listened to music on the radio copying the lyrics and by the age of eight, Libertad had a repertoire of 300 boleros. "There were two important kinds of music to me, bolero and rock because they’ll both be with us forever,” says Libertad. "The bolero is an excellent genre to express all bad and good situations of love. Even when I was eight I would sing dramatic stories, a funny thing in a child, but I was always interested to sow deep emotions." "By the time I was seven, I was singing in contests. And by the time I was nine, I was making records in Peru," says Libertad.

Early Career in Lima Peru

Libertad moved to Lima, the capital of Peru as a teenager. [http://worldmusiccentral.org/artists/artist_page.php?id=1296 World Music Central. "Tania Libertad."] ] Libertad's father became her manager and she began singing in nightclubs. Soon Libertad had a contract with RCA Victor and her first national hit in Peru, La Contamanina. [http://www.lusafrica.com/catalog/redirect.php?action=url&goto=www.lusafrica.com%2Fbios%2FTaniaLibertad_textANG.htm&osCsid=284cd528660bb4bbe1a23ea2fc Lus Africa. "Tania Libertad"] ] After ten successful recordings, Libertad's father decided he wanted her to end her career and didn't want her to study after high school. While Libertad pursued her musical career she convinced her father to let her study engineering in the university. "I wanted to go to university. The only way he let me enroll was if I promised to study what my brother studied," says Libertad. "I studied the science and engineering of fisheries." Although Libertad has not used her engineering education in later life she is glad she studied in the university. "At least it got me into the university, where I could meet people who were more involved in the arts and in politics—my thinking was very far to the left, very much in tune with resistance to war, very much looking for a way to find peace."

Libertad began to cultivate friendships with performers who were involved with Afro-Peruvian music that she had learned to love living in the North part of Peru where the music was prevalent. "At that time, the nationalistic government encouraged the growth of Peruvian culture, and even established an Afro-Peruvian Ballet company," says Libertad. But Libertad became uncomfortable singing in nightclubs because of the sexism and racism she encountered there and began singing music with a social conscience. Libertad began singing in universities and union halls.

Libertad's conflicts with her father continued. "De niña andaba como pajarito libre por mi barrio y fue a partir de mi adolescencia que empezó el cuidado en extremo. Cuando mi padre se da cuenta de mi paso a la adolescencia, es cuando me empieza a encerrar y a no dejarme salir, fue muy difícil, incluso cuando llegué aquí a México fue cuando hice muchas cosas que de joven mi papá no me dejo hacer, entonces andaba en el reventón total," says Libertad."When I was 20, I actually ran away from home, because my father's thinking was completely different from mine," says Libertad. "I needed to be taken seriously as a person and as a woman, and my father no longer wanted me to pursue my career as an artist, a singer. So I hid for two weeks with friends until my father accepted me as an adult with the rights of an adult."

In 1976 Libertad began to travel abroad. "And then I started to travel and sing in other countries. I went to Cuba in 1976 and was so intrigued with the music there," says Libertad. "I began to understand the new music that had so much to say politically. The songs can be heard on different levels: as love songs, as love songs to a country, as songs of resistance and peace." However her move away from the traditional music did not bring her success she hoped for and she decided to leave Peru. "Leaving Peru was the most important decision I ever made," says Libertad. "Because there came a time in my career when I was singing what everybody else wanted me to sing. What my father wanted, what my mother wanted, what they wanted on TV, what my country wanted. And I was feeling really miserable. I needed to be the master of my own decisions, of my own mistakes, of my own accomplishments. I needed to sing what I wanted to sing." [http://www.apapro.org/archives/000076.html Peruvian American News & Updates. "Tania Libertad in L.A." October 23, 2003.] ]

Libertad Moves to Mexico

In 1978 Libertad arrived in Mexico penniless. "Mexico was a haven for other Latin American artists who had been exiled from their countries for political reasons," Libertad says. Her friend Carmen Salinas helped her get her first job at the Blanquita Theatre in Mexico City. "For six years I sang in schools, jails and hospitals, a circuit that was nonexistent in Peru." Libertad won a contract with Polygram singing trova, black Peruvian music, salsa and bolero. In 1985 Libertad released her first album of boleros. "In 1977 I came to Mexico. Here in Mexico, I fell in love—with the country, with the audiences that gave me such an enormously warm welcome, and with the music," says Libertad. I've recorded many CDs of boleros (Mexican romantic standards) and they've all been very well received. I've had the opportunity to sing and record with so many extraordinary Mexican singers: Vicente Fernández, Armando Manzanero, and Marco Antonio Muñiz, to name just a few."

After 30 years in Mexico, Libertad considers herself a citizen of Mexico. "And now I am a Mexican. A Peruvian still, but a few years ago I also became a Mexican citizen," says Libertad. "I love this country, I love this city. This is where my whole life is, this is where I live and work." Libertad sometimes feels regret over leaving Peru for Mexico. "In Mexico I had many more possibilities. I already live there for more than twenty years now," says Libertad. "It is difficult, and it makes me sad sometimes, not to be in Peru. But when I do concerts over there, I always receive a warm welcome. They are proud of me." [http://zonalatinamagazine.com/tanialibertad.html Zona Latina Magazine. "Tania Libertad in search of the Black Roots of Peru"] ]

Libertad's International Career

Libertad has an international career. Libertad has performed in France, Italy, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, Holland, England, Morocco, Angola, Senegal, the United States, Peru, Ecuador, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, the Dominican Republic, Honduras, Uruguay, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Panama, El Salvador, Argentina, Brazil and Mexico. "I've sung on every continent," says Libertad. "I've sung with so many incredible singers from every country: Cesarea Evora, Plácido Domingo, Mercedes Sosa, Kiri Te Kanawa, Miguel Bosé, and others, so many others."

Libertad considers herself a citizen of the world. Libertad considers herself to be profoundly Latin American but believes in the ideals of Bolivar that frontiers should not exist for Latin America. "Me han dicho que soy una ciudadana del mundo. Yo pienso que soy profundamente latinoamericana y creo en el gran sueño de Bolívar: que las fronteras no existan y que por lo menos todos los que hablamos español sintamos de la misma manera y que defendamos las mismas causas," says Libertad. "Compartimos las grandes raíces indígena, africana y española. Esa fusión hace que nuestra música sea única, que sea inolvidable, que se enlace en un mestizaje correcto. Esa misma mezcla de culturas nos ha dado el color de la piel, el idioma, el lenguaje de la música y una maravillosa forma de sentir y expresarnos. Somos muy afortunados y debemos sentirnos orgullosos de nuestras raíces."

An Independent Artist

Libertad is an independent artist and is not backed by a big record label. "Because I am an independent artist I am not backed up by a big record label," says Libertad. "Nor am I greatly backed by the media, and I never have been. This is just the way I chose it. No Ry Cooder or David Byrne has come along to aid me. But I like it this way. I chose to be an independent artist. Having the backing of the media results in certain compromises I'm not willing to make." [http://www.signonsandiego.com/uniontrib/20050113/news_1w13tania.html San Diego Union Tribune. "I chose to be an independent artist" by George Varga. January 13, 2005.] ]

African Influence in Libertad's Music

Although Libertad is not black she feels a great affinity for the African music that she grew up with on the Northern coast of Peru in an area populated primarily by descendants of African slaves. "I was born on the north coast, where the descendents of African slaves lived, and the music I heard there, the music I grew up with, got into my bones," says Libertad. It's the music that still fascinates me more than any other." Libertad says that there is a special bond that unites her to culture that created the Afro-Peruvian music. ""There are only about 15,000 Afro-Peruvian families in the country, but their cultural influence is very strong," Libertad says. "Not only the music of these coastal people is special; many of their customs are also distinct. For many years,the music was performed mostly out of sight, behind closed doors in close-knit Afro-Peruvian communities. Peruvian high society considered the music profane. But then, about 70 years ago, the rhythms began to emerge, style by style, and eventually grew into the popular form it is today. Now it is widely embraced as a music that's emblematic of the best of Peruvian culture." Libertad considers Afro-Peruvian music to be a separate art form unique to Peru. "Afro-Peruvian music is more sensual than the African-derived music of other countries," Libertad says. "Rhythms like lando create a very special air - a unique quality - that doesn't exist in the Black styles of Colombia, Central America, Puerto Rico or Cuba."

"Costa Negra"

In 2000 Libertad met producer José da Silva in Mexico City at one of Cesaria Evora's concerts and told him about her ambition to record an album of Afro-Peruvian msuic. In 2003 Libertad realized her dream of recording an album of Afro-Peruvian music with musicians from Africa. Libertad recorded in Paris on the Lusafrica label with musicians from Senegal, Cameroon and Madagascar. Libertad says the African musicians were delighted to record the African music that had evolved in the Americas among the offspring of slaves and were fascinated by the different rythmns and syncopation in the Afro-Peruvian music. "They were so excited that when the sessions were over they hugged us with joy," says Libertad. "They picked me up off the floor, along with my Peruvian percussionists, and carried us in circles around the studio." "My CD Costa Negra is really homage to that music, and my latest CD, Negro Color, carries the theme onward." "I could compare what happened with black music after 500 years with my Peruvian roots," Libertad says. "And when I showed songs to African musicians from Cameroon, Senegal, Madagascar, Cape Verde and Paris, all of them felt the Peruvian rhythms in a very natural way. It was an easy connection for me."

"Color Negro"

In 2004 Libertad released "Color Negro,"another Afro-Peruvian recording. "Negro Color is my latest experiment. Costa Negra saw the return of an acoustic style. But I don't like to record an album that sounds like something else I've done. All of my albums are different. In Negro Color, we didn't use any samples or synthesizers," says Libertad. "But as all the world sings boleros, so I decided to do boleros, but with other rhythms, not the standard form. For instance, on the Armando Manzanero song "Por debajo de la mesa," we used the lando rhythm. It's a beautiful song, and it gains a lot by being performed to the lando style."

Vocal Qualities of Libertad's Voice

The Los Angeles Times wrote that "Tania's voice is a phenomenon, so pure, piercing and sustained at moments that it sounds otherworldly. With a range that runs from a high, ethereal warble to a throaty growl, she showed off her power occasionally by dropping her microphone and letting her unaided voice fill the hall."

Operatic Nature of Libertad's voice

Libertad voice is considered operatic in capability and she has been asked why she did not pursue a career in opera. Libertad says that she loves life and lives her life with passion and that the discipline required to sing opera would mean that she could not live with the freedom that her life requires. "Ese medio es muy exigente. Los cantantes de ópera tienen encima muchísimas prohibiciones en función del cuidado de su voz," says Libertad. "No deben estar donde hay humo de tabaco, deben alejarse de los desvelos, no carraspear, no someterse a cambios de clima, dejar de hablar dos días antes de cantar. Además, es un medio muy competido; de 10 mil cantantes apenas llegan uno o dos. ¿Cuántos cantantes llegar a la Met de Nueva York, a La Scala, a la Arena de Verona, a los grandes escenarios de la ópera? La durísima disciplina es, para mí, dejar de vivir, dejar de ser una intérprete. Me encanta vivir con pasión, porque sin ella ¿cómo puedes cantar Noche de ronda, Piensa en mí, Los pájaros perdidos? Yo no puedo renunciar a mi vida por un ideal. Claro que tampoco quiero decir que las cantantes de ópera sean unas amargadas. Simplemente he optado por vivir mi vida como quiero..." [http://www.oem.com.mx/diariodexalapa/notas/n764990.htm Diario Xalapa. "He sido muy feliz al trabajar con la OSX: Tania Libertad" July 10, 2008.] ]

The Strength of Libertad's Voice

Libertad says that in spite of the fact that she has sung for over 50 years and for much of her life sang under very difficult conditions, in the cold, outside, exposed to dust, and in the rain, she has been able to retain her voice and not only has her voice not been reduced in power but that it continues to become stronger. "Yo empecé a cantar desde los cinco años de edad y tengo más de 50 años cantando en condiciones muy difíciles, desde escenarios abiertos con frío, con polvo, en plazas públicas con lluvia, en todas las condiciones que se puedan imaginar, y sin embargo, la voz la sigo conservando y después de tantos años yo podría tener la voz muy fregada y que no me respondiera en ciertas notas, pero no, al contrario, me responde de una manera excelente y no puedo explicar," says Libertad. "Cada cuerpo es un mundo. Hasta siento que mi voz lejos de que se me haya disminuido me sigue creciendo, ha ido descubriendo otros rincones." [http://www.oem.com.mx/diariodexalapa/notas/n760503.htm Diario Xalapa. "Tania Libertad hizo vibrar a Xalapa" July 7, 2008.] ]

Emotional Content of Libertad's Voice

Libertad is known to be a singer who moves an audience with the emotion in her voice. Libertad considers herself an old soul who has many memories and emotion. Libertad says that people sometimes cry when she sings although it is not her intention to make them cry. ""Yo creo que soy un alma muy vieja, un alma con muchas vidas detrás, muchas nostalgias, mucha emoción," says Libertad. "A veces yo me pregunto por qué mucha gente llora cuando yo canto, no es mi intención hacerlas llorar." [http://www.oem.com.mx/diariodexalapa/notas/n757119.htm Diario de Xalapa. "Tania Libertad, en el Palacio de Gobierno" July 4, 2008.] ] Nobel Prize winner José Saramago says that the music of Tania Libertad shows just how much emotion can be conveyed in the unaccompanied voice. "La primera vez que oí cantar a Tania Libertad, tuve la revelación de las alturas de la emoción a que puede llevarnos una voz desnuda, sola delante del mundo, sin ningún instrumento que la acompañara," says Saramago. "Tania cantaba a capella La paloma, de Rafael Alberti, y cada nota acariciaba una cuerda de mi sensibilidad hasta el deslumbramiento."

ocial Conscience in Libertad's Music

Since the beginning of Libertad's career, many of her songs have a social message. "I began to understand the new music that had so much to say politically. The songs can be heard on different levels: as love songs, as love songs to a country, as songs of resistance and peace. These are what we call canciones camufladas—camouflaged songs," says Libertad. "Since I was an adolescent, it's been important to me to take a stand for what I believe, to show my ideas. In Perú, so many were extremists. And I stood up for peace, for an end to war, for people's right to live freely." However, Libertad doesn't want to be considered a protest singer or to have any labels put on her singing. "Nunca he dejado que me etiqueten en un tipo de música. Me consideraron folclórica, de nueva canción o de protesta, pero no lo soy. Cuando veía que ya me estaban colgando la etiqueta de algo salía con un disco de otra cosa, ¡y luego con uno de boleros, o con uno de José Alfredo Jiménez!, ¡después con uno de Aleks Sintek! Peleé mucho por mi libertad como para caer en eso," says Libertad. [http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2006/05/27/a08n1esp.php La Jornada. "Nunca he dejado que me pongan etiquetas, asegura Tania Libertad" by Arturo Cruz Barcenas. May 27, 2006.] ]

Personal Life

Libertad is married and has a son. Libertad's husband is a businessman and they make their home in Mexico City.

Libertad says she doesn't want to be a big star. "Pop fans are fickle," says Libertad. "They embrace one artist one day, and the next they're embracing somebody else. I don't want to capture that kind of public. I want to find an audience that will never leave me."

Prizes and Honors

Libertad has been named the "UNESCO Artist for Peace." [http://yancuic.com/nota.php?seccion=4&noticia=11767 Yancuic Agencia de Noticias y Publicidad. "Tania canta su Libertad a Durango en la Feria" July 25, 2008.] ] Libertad has been decorated by the government of Peru and has received the "Orden de rio blanco" from the government of Brazil. "In 1997, UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization) gave me a great honor when it named me an honorary Ambassador of Peace, an artist for peace," says Libertad. "It's something that is tremendously important to me. I was thrilled to sing for UNESCO at their headquarters in Paris, and I take my role very seriously."


Libertad has recorded 38 albums with more than 4 million copies sold.

* Tania Libertad [http://www.aviv2.com/tania/ Aviv Productions. "Tania Libertad."] ]
* Soy Peruana
* La Contamanina
* Mejor que nunca
* La dulce voz de Tania Libertad
* El mismo Puerto
* Concierto en la voz de Tania Libertad
* Hits
* Hits Vol. II
* Alfonsina y el mar
* Lo inolvidable de Chabuca Granda
* Como una campana de crystal
* Boleros
* Nuevamente Boleros
* Me voy pa'la pachanga
* Trovadiccion
* Mucho corazon
* Razon de Vivir (duet with Djavan)
* Tania canta a Jose Alfredo Jimenez (duet with Vicente Fernandez)
* Boleros hoy (duet Armando Manzanero, Miguel Bose, Ivan Lins and Azucar Moreno)
* Mexico Lindo y Querido
* Africa en America
* La Libertad de Manzanero
* Amar Amando
* Tania y su sabrosa Libertad
* Himno al amor
* Mujeres apasionadas
* Tomate esta botella conmigo
* Armando la Libertad
* Blue Note, Live in New York
* La vida, ese parentesis (duet with Joan Manuel Serrat and Willie Colon)
* Arias de Opera, ¿Y... por que no?
* Costa Negra
* 20 De Coleccio


External Links

* [http://www.tanialibertad.com/ Tania Libertad's Official Web site]
* [http://www.calperfs.berkeley.edu/presents/information_desk/program_notes/2005/pn_Libertad.pdf Tania Libertad Performs at UCLA]

DEFAULTSORT:Libertad, Tania]

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