Chile Plans a Massive Year of Celebrations for 100th Anniversary of Violeta Parra’s Birth

Lead Photo: Photo by Thorsten Henn / EyeEm
Photo by Thorsten Henn / EyeEm
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Whether or not you’re a fan of Bob Dylan, the iconic singer-songwriter’s tap for this year’s Nobel Prize sets a powerful precedent in the world of Western literature. Namely, that songwriting can also be poetry. And while the United States’ global cultural dominance makes Bob Dylan the quintessential 60s folk-poet, Latin American countries from across the continent have also produced their own brilliant troubadours – many of whom are undoubtedly worthy of their own Nobel.

When it comes to such a prestigious recognition, any fan of Latin American Nueva Canción will most certainly look to Chilean songwriter, folklorist, and visual artist Violeta Parra as first in line. In her short 49 years upon this earth, Parra left the Spanish-speaking world a treasure trove of often heartwrenching, poetically-tinged folk tunes that have transcended cultures and even languages. But, as we approach the 100th anniversary of her birth, Parra has only recently been recognized as the transformational multi-disciplinary artist that she truly was – and now Chile is honoring her birth by giving Parra her rightful place in their illustrious cultural history.

Starting this month, the South American country will be hosting a series of exhibitions, concerts, and film screenings about the life and work of the composer behind iconic songs like “Gracias a la vida”, who would have turned 100 this October 4th. In addition, handful of academic studies from researchers like Paula Miranda will reevaluate her work as poetic expression rather than popular song, while another will explore the influence of traditional Mapuche music in her work.

Summarizing the importance of such a celebration, Chile’s Minister of Culture Ernesto Otto Ramírez minced no words when he said, “Commemorating Violeta Parra is our duty as a country, so that new generations can become familiar with her way of seeing the world, her important contribution to the arts, and the creative force of a figure that has been able to transcend borders.” He continued: “In 2017, Chile will dress in Violeta, we will be flooded with her songs, and her name will bring part of our identity to different corners of the world.”

How will you celebrate the year of Violeta Parra?