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by Sergio Mastro
Tango Club

Carlos Gardel

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In this episode, we talked about an icon of tango, his name was Carlos Gardel. We could make hundreds of programs talking about him; he was tango's first superstar and still one of its most enduring performers. He died young in plane crash in 1935, and he was the first singer to adopt the tango as a form of popular song. Previously, it had been entirely instrumental dance music, played marginal places.

Gardel didn't change those qualities, but his work popularized the genre beyond all expectations. Thanks to extensive touring and movie career, Gardel was able to become a star throughout Latin America, the USA and Western Europe; in fact, tango's international acceptance legitimized it in the eyes of Argentine skeptics.

Blessed with an expressive, sobbing baritone voice, Gardel helped establish an important part of tango's emotional language. Moreover, his charismatic personal style made him a folk hero to countless fans. His rise symbolically paralleled tango's path to international fame; in Gardel the common folk of Buenos Aires saw themselves and their culture validated on a massive scale. Since his death, we say that he sings better every day. Gardel is still The King of Tango.

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by Sergio Mastro