Thursday, October 25, 2007

Mexico: Jorge Negrete, "El Charro Cantor"

Mexico had a "Golden Age" of cinema that reached its highest expression in the 40s and the 50s. One of the best-known of its stars was Jorge Negrete, who epitomized the image of the "charro cantor," or Mexican singing cowboy, and was the first mariachi star to achieve lasting international fame. He had a voice that could be categorized as a tenor who could sing with depth and power, or a baritone who could reach high notes and still retain a rich vocal quality. His life came to an untimely end in 1953 at the age of 42, when he succumbed to liver disease, which started with a hepatitis C infection in New York years earlier and eventually resurfaced.

There are plenty of blogs and websites that relate information about Negrete, so I won't try to repeat what is shared there, but there are a lot of anecdotes about his life that aren't necessarily written down anywhere, or if they are, they're not in the most obvious places. Of course, a lot of the information is written in Spanish and not translated, so some of what I write will be things that I don't believe are translated anywhere. In between my blogs of travels I'll add some information about Negrete and other actors/singers of that era, and hint at what value they have for those interested in Latin America and its culture.

The photo is from a website in Spanish not only about Negrete, but also about his daughter Diana and grandsons Rafael and Lorenzo, all of whom sing and through their song promote his legacy while at the same time pursue their own creative paths. When they sing together, they are known as "La Dinastia Negrete" (The Negrete Dynasty). The website is http://www.geocities.com/homenaje_jorgenegrete/ and has links to similar sites (a few are inactive), including an excellent site on Mexican cinema, http://cinemexicano.mty.itesm.mx.

If you search on Jorge Negrete on YouTube, you can find several posts with his songs and/or interesting footage.
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