Argentina's culture was explored in detail through the songs and novels of Buenos Aires-born singer, guitarist, and novelist Facundo Cabral. His repertoire included the international hit "No Soy de Aqui, Ni Soy de Alla," which has been translated and recorded in nine languages by such artists as Julio Iglesias, Pedro Vargas, and Neil Diamond. His novels include Conversations with Facundo Cabral, My Grandmother and I, Psalms, and Borges and I. In 1966, the United Nations Department of Education, Science, and Culture (UNESCO) declared him a "worldwide messenger of peace."
Cabral overcame numerous obstacles in his climb toward international fame. The youngest of three children, he was raised by his mother after his father deserted the family. Moving to south Argentina as a youngster, he continued to struggle. Arrested and locked up in a reformatory, he managed to escape and became a born-again Christian. Relocating to Tandil, he worked a series of menial jobs, including street cleaning and farm laborer.
Inspired by the music of Atahualpa Yapanqui and José Larralde, Cabral taught himself to play folk songs on the guitar. Moving to Mar del Plata, he found a job singing in a hotel. With the success of "No Soy de Aqui, Ni Soy de Alla," in 1970, Cabral rose to the upper echelon of Argentinian music. His outspoken lyrics, however, continued to stir controversy. Labeled a "protest singer," in the mid-'70s he was forced to leave his homeland and seek exile in Mexico. He remained a world citizen, however, performing in more than 150 countries. Returning to Argentina in 1984, Cabral performed a series of concerts in Buenos Aires' Luna Park that attracted as many as 6,000 people each night. Three years later, he performed at Buenos Aires' football stadium for an audience of more than 50,000 people. Cabral toured with Alberto Cortes in May 1994.
Cabral continued to perform and record into the 21st century; his recordings during this period include 2003's En Vivo, recorded live at the Universidad de Lima in Lima, Peru. On July 9, 2011, while on tour in Central America, Cabral was shot to death in an apparent ambush of his SUV while en route to the airport in Guatemala City, Guatemala. The killing of the "worldwide messenger of peace" provoked shock and outrage around the world. Facundo Cabral was 74 years old. ~ Craig Harris