Bésame Mucho: Latinas Sing Latinas
The sounds of Latin America will come alive on Friday, October 16 at the Luciano Theatre in the Guaracini Fine & Performing Arts Center in Vineland, NJ. Female composers behind some of the biggest songs in musical history will be celebrated in a program entitled, “Bésame Mucho: Latinas Sing Latinas.” The show is an anthology that spans nearly fifty years of music and passes through countries like Mexico, Peru, Argentina, Cuba, Puerto Rico and Chile. “Bésame Mucho: Latinas Sing Latinas” is one of several touring productions presented by Repertorio Español, a company based in New York City. Pablo Zinger, the Musical Director, Conductor, for the National Touring Program of Repertorio Español, designed the show around the work of female composers such as Consuelo Velázquez, Isolino Carrillo, Ernestina Lecuona, Chabuca Granda, Violetta Parra, Eladia Blazquez and Maria Ilena Walsh.
“The interesting thing is that these women wrote songs that became as popular - and sometimes more popular - than the songs written by their male colleagues,” explained Zinger. “And the contribution of women to the pop répertoire of Latin America is enormous.”
Some of the most popular songs in Latin American music were composed by women. Chances are that even if the titles don’t sound familiar, you’ve probably heard the songs. Titles like “Cachito,” “Dos gardenias,” “Olas y arena,” and “Gracias a la vida” continue to be recorded by musical legends around the world.
One of the most famous songs, “Bésame Mucho” has been recorded in recent years by Andrea Bocelli, Diana Krall, Natalie Cole and Harry Connick, Jr. Another song, “Júrame,” was written by María Grever, who also wrote “What a Difference a Day Makes” — a song covered by legendary artists such as Dean Martin, Ben E. King and Aretha Franklin in the ‘60s and more recently by Rod Stewart and Barry Manilow.
Zinger says the performance features four sensational singers (two from Mexico and two from Puerto Rico), a percussion player and himself. The songs are woven into a theatrical performance, tied together with spoken commentary that provides insight into the artists, the songs and the times involved. The show was conceived, written and is narrated by Zinger and is directed by José Zayas.
“The purpose of the show is to celebrate and show the achievements of Latin American women composers in song, represented by their own songs and sung by female vocalists,” said Zinger.
Songs range from light and funny numbers to those that are serious, dramatic and even tragic. Themes range from plain love songs to those that are political about painful events in the history of Latin America, such as the dictatorships faced in the 1970s, to everything in the middle.
While Latin American music is beloved around the world — including unlikely places like Russia, Asia and Eastern Europe — the artists still struggle with pop culture clichés. Even though Latin American music contains many different styles and different realms, Americans sometimes have a misconceived notion of the music as a single entity.
“It’s as if people outside of the United States imagined that we’re all cowboys, riding horses and singing country songs,” continued Zinger. “Or that we’re all rap artists singing gangster rap songs. The fact of the matter is that Latin American music, just as in the United States, contains much variety. There is everything from jazz to rock to rap and country. We’re not all wearing a Mexican hat and Bolero shirts or like Carmen Miranda with fruit on our hats.”
"Bésame Mucho: Latinas Sing Latinas" on Friday, October 16, 2015 at 8:00 p.m. at the Guaracini Fine & Performing Arts Center's Luciano Theatre, Cumberland County College, 3322 College Drive, Vineland, NJ 08360. Tickets range from $10 - $25