The Little Sparrow
French music is undeniably linked to the name of Edith Piaf, the Little Sparrow, whose story was a legend since birth. Daughter of an acrobat and a singer, Edith was born under a streetlight in front of number 72 of Belleville Street within the French capital. After passing through the hands of her maternal grandmother, who fed her with wine instead of milk, she grew up in a brothel run by her father's mother. At the age of 14, Edith moved to Clermont Hotel in Montmartre district starting her own adventure as a singer in the famous Place Pigalle, where she was known as môme or girl. After singing in the street and in cabarets, success knocked on her door in March of 1936, when she performances at the ABC Theatre in Paris in the genre of the music-hall and suddenly she becomes a star adored by the French public. Her fame continued to rise with hits like La vie en rose, Non, je ne regrette rien, Milord or La Foule, and she becomes a Parisian icon earning also the international respect of the American public from the Carnegie Hall in New York. The upward path of her career, enriched with her strong and interesting personality, opposes her personal and love life, affected by the premature death of her only daughter when she was two years old, her serious illness and poor health and her addictions. It was the mixture of all these elements along with her voice and her fragile image dressed in her eternal black dress which made her one of the greatest artists of all times. After her death in 1963, Piaf's voice remained in the streets of Paris and today her followers still continue visiting the places where she lived and sang. In the neighborhood of Belleville is located the small Museum of Edith Piaf with personal objects, magazine, records, etc., a private and moving place far from big crowds of the most touristic Paris. Not leaving the area, 72 Bellevile Street remembers the first day of Edith's life; not far from there, Edith Piaf Square surprised the visitor with an sculpture of the môme in bronze, and the corner in Troyon and Mac Mahon Streets where the artist was discovered by a talent scout is still alive. But with no doubt the most visited place in Paris for the singer's fans is her tomb in Pere Lachaise Cemetery, where Edith has always fresh flowers from anonymous lovers.
José Alfredo's eternal lyrics are written in golden letters in the memory of all Mexicans and worlwide melodic music lovers. The creator of legendary songs as El Rey (The King) or Si nos dejan (If they let us), got a legend of love and canteens throughout his life becoming finally one of the quintessential Latin myths. Born in the small town of Dolores Hidalgo in Guanajuato, a crucial place for the history of the Mexican Independence, the artist moved to Mexico City with his family at an early age. In the capital, he worked in a variety of places until 1948 when he was discovered while humming a song in 'La Sirena' bar during one of his shifts. His lyrics had such a high quality that he quickly rang in national radios and was gradually becoming a renowned singer. José Alfredo never studied music or knew of tones and melodies, he simply whisted the song to Rubén Fuentes, who made his arrangements, adding bright lyrics that made him one of the greatest Mexican artists of all times, covered years later by many other great singers such as Vicente Fernandez, Maria Dolores Pradera or Luis Miguel. His reputation as a womanizer was so sadly justified as an alcoholic. He dedicated many songs to many women while spending too many nights drinking in the streets of Mexico, a country that adored him until the day of his death in 1973. The José Alfredo Jiménez Tour from his House-Museum in Guanajuato to the most iconic places of the artist's childhood ends at its spectacular tomb in Dolores Hidalgo consists of a bronze huge sombrero and a colorful serape. Next to the monument, there is still music performed by anonymous mariachis that plays his songs daily. Undoubtedly, José Alfredo is still The King.
'She can't sing. She can't dance - do not miss her!'. With those words the New York Times asked New Yorkers to come to the show in 1953 of the greatest Spanish myth, the whirlwind of colors that conquered half the world with a Spanish peineta: Lola Flores. When she left Jerez de la Frontera in Cadiz, the place where she was born, her strength on stage were already anticipating what happened when she came to Madrid. In the capital, she signed the highest contract of those years, triumphed in theaters and music halls and started her career in movies and television. And from Madrid to the eternity, Lola Flores exported the name of Spain all over the world. Even if it is true that experts always said that hers was not real flamenco, the Pharaoh, as she was popularly known, immortalized this music making it hers in a very special and bizarre manner with the original movement of her arms, something certainly impossible to pass unnoticed and that the world of music in its entirety thanked her with a big tribute in Miami in 1991. Her love stories, friendship with other artists such as huge Celia Cruz and Rocío Jurado, and the legendary artists family of which she was the matriarch created a myth that even today, years after her death in 1995 is still alive in the memory of Spaniards. In Jerez de la Frontera, near the artist 's home in Sun Street (where they have been many years already preparing a museum that still does not see the light), a monument to Lola Flores rises with a statue in tribute and in Madrid, her the city of adoption, it is still possible to enjoy flamenco in Tablao Villa- Rosa belonged to the artist and her husband years ago, and visit her mausoleum in the cemetery of La Almudena, where statues of Lola and her son Antonio, another renowned artist , remember the popular affection of a whole country for its most international icon.
The Fab Four
The Beatles is probably the most famous music band i the Music history, admired and recognized both by the public and by critics worldwide. Their music and lyrics are repeated on radio and television, movies and nightclubs around the world at every moment and their history made them legends and music icons for many generations. Formed in Liverpool (England) in 1962 by John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr, the band started on an early skiffle sound and 50s' rock and roll, although years later ended up playing various genres like ballad pop. After playing for years in bars in Liverpool, succes started with the song Love Me Do, a symbol of the group. From then until 1966, The Beatles began several tours around the world to become the most famous music band of all time. It was the ages of Beatlemaniacs, the most popular and repeated songs like She loves me and I want to hold your hand, and the success of a brilliant career that stopped for the band members to begin their own careers in the shadow of what was the Beatles. John Lennon, legendary artist remembered by millions of music lovers was assassinated in New York in 1980 and became a legend. Harrison died in 2001 of cancer. McCartney and Starr remain active. Recognition, however, continued to come years later and still do, being the band listed as number 1 on many music charts such as the 100 greatest artists of all time that Rolling Stone magazine published in 2004. Due to this huge success, there are many iconic places to visit about The Beatles in Liverpool. The Magical Mystery Tour is the official route that goes through the places that inspired the musicians during their youth: the basement the Cavern (rebuilt after its demolition in 1973) where the Beatles first played in 1961 and 'The Grapes', on the same street , the pub where they used to meet before their performances and that now shares the street with the souvenir shop The Beatles Shop. The Beatles Story Museum, dedicated to the band and located inside the industrial buildings in Albert Dock, the alley Penny Lane, Strawberry Fields orphanage and the Church of Saint Peter Parish with the tomb of Eleanor Rigby, protagonist of the song that bears her name. The Beatles are still playing in the streets of Liverpool.
Rainha do Fado
The fado, Portuguese folk song, was born in the slums of Lisbon to express the sorrows of the people under a name that comes from the Latin factum, something like 'a fatal chain of events'. In a similar way, Amália Rodrigues was born in Beira Baixa district of Lisbon (Portugal) in a humble family that gave her a strict education but also some of the characteristic points of her personality: her taste for music and poetry, her strong character and her immense love for Portugal, the country for which she always sang inspired by its streets, cities, towns, landscapes and people. Due to the unpopularity of fado in her own country during her early career, Amália went to Madrid in 1943 to give a performance that began to make her one of the most international European artists of that time. The singer popularized the fado in a voice that proclaimed her the absolute queen of the genre, she recorded her first records in Brazil and performed at the largest Casino in South America, the Copacabana and also at the Olympia theater in Paris, in New York, in Angola, in Mozambique and even in the Belgian Congo. She also made the leap to film, acting mostly in Portuguese films but also in some of that important Mexican cinema of the 50s, getting to share the screen with Edith Piaf in the film Music Of Always. However, when the fall of the Salazar dictatorship in Portugal occured, Amália was accused of collaborating with the regime, although other people thought that she secretly helped the Portuguese Communist Party. Nevertheless and after the Carnation Revolution in 1974 her career came to a standstill until some years later when Portugal and the whole world knew how to reset that by honoring the artist with different events. Amália Rodrigues gave the Portuguese fado its international pride, she was the first to sing the verses of the acclaimed Portuguese poet Luis de Camoes and became a cultural icon in her country. The House Museum Amália Rodrigues at No. 139, Rua Sao Benito Lisbon is a good example of the national and international importance of this singer.
Carlos Gardel's legend and his importance in culture and music history is so big that there are even divergent theories about his birth and nationality in each of his many biographies. According to some of them, Gardel was born in Uruguay between 1883 and 1887 but for others the artist must have been born in France in 1890. However, something that every biography agrees with is that he moved to Buenos Aires at an early age to become officially Argentinian in 1923. Carlos Gardel always lived with his mother in modest houses in the neighborhood of San Nicolas in Buenos Aires, a poor area whith some local theaters where a young Gardel worked as a stagehand listening to the best singers of that time. Later, he began singing semi-professionally at Cafe Traverso in the Abasto neighborhood, where years later he bought a house in which the Carlos Gardel Museum is currently located. In 1911 the singer formed a duo with the Uruguayan José Razzano in a house on Vieja Guardia Street which later was renamed as Pasaje Carlos Gardel. After recording several albums together they were hired in various cabarets where Gardel was discovered by Pablo Podesta to act for the first time at the National Theater in his neighborhood of San Nicolas. Since then the duo began to travel through some countries in South America until 1917, when Carlos Gardel sang which is known as the first tango-song, Mi noche triste (My sad night) putting lyrics to a dance, the tango, which transformed itself from the joy and happiness to a very nostalgic art. It was during the 20s when Gardel traveled alone to Europe. Paris, Madrid and Barcelona hailed him as an idol and he became a star by raising the tango-songs up to what they are today. Carlos Gardel cultivated his heartthrob image and his velvety voice to get the international recognition that elevated him to a myth of music when in 1935, at the height of his career, the artist died in a plane crash in Colombia. Since then, the various houses where he lived in the district of San Nicolas and his Museum near the old market in Buenos Aires have become the place where many followers of Gardel remember everyday the symbol of an era and the creator of the tango-song.
High Priestess of Soul
The young Eunice Waymon traveled from her small hometown in North Carolina to Philadelphia thanks to the savings of his mother, a Baptist reverend, to become the first black concert pianist of the United States. However, with the rejection of the conservatory and the thought that the color of her skin was the fault, she lived precariously in New York until she moved to Atlantic City where one night, in a small dark bar she became Nina Simone, the soul diva. Together with her piano, the artist was modulating a personal voice with which in the sixties and seventies seduced half the world with songs like I Got Life and covers of Just Like A Woman and Here Comes The Sun. Thanks to the owner of that bar in Atlantic City, who required her to sing in addition to playing the piano, music found one of its stars, a committed and feisty diva who was willing to risk her own career when she recorded in 1963 Mississippi Goddam to denounce racist violence. The image of Nina Simone (Nina for 'niña' or girl , as she was called by an old latin boyfriend and Simone for the French actress Simone Signoret) at the piano and wearing a turban made her became a social and cultural icon who, however, lived in obscurity during the eighties. It was at the end of this decade when her voice turned to sound across the globe thanks to Chanel Perfume Number 5, which included the song My Baby Just Cares For Me on its television advertisement. Nina returned and enjoyed fame during her last years of career with tours in many countries until 2003 when she died in a hotel in Carry-le-Rouet, France. Her figure of classical diva and her slender figure inspired a bronze sculpture in her honor that stands at the Nina Simone Square in her hometown, Tryon, North Carolina.
The Swedish icon
In 1972 Agnetha, Björn, Benny and Anni-Frid put all the initials of their names together to form in Stockholm (Sweden) the musical group ABBA, a quartet who achieved international fame thanks to the Eurovision Song Contest in 1974. Since their triumph at this festival the group gained international popularity thanks to catchy songs whose commercial impact led them to become the most successful artists of their record company and be the best-selling band in the 1970s. ABBA grew in importance by becoming the first Eauropean pop group who managed to succeed in English-speaking countries outside Europe (Canada, Australia, South Africa...), but in the early 80's personal circumstances (multiple divorces) made the group disbanded. However, in the 1990s compilations began to be published that placed them back on the list of international sales and even a musical was created with their songs, Mamma Mia!, getting popularity back, becoming a true Swedish icon and entering the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In Stockholm, the ABBA Museum was dedicated to the group with modern facilities where the homes of the members of the group and their first recording studio are recreated and where fans can also sing all their songs in a special stage.