Latin  •  Latin America

Nueva Cancion

Nueva Cancion ("New Song") isn't exactly a distinct musical style, but a conglomeration of South American songwriters placing a renewed emphasis on intelligent (usually political) commentary within their songs. Given the explosive climate of most governments south of Mexico from the 1960s to the '80s, it shouldn't be surprising that numerous songwriters attempted to get the word out concerning oppressive dictatorships through music. If it had a home, it was in Chile, where new president Salvadore Allende took his position in 1970 behind a banner reading "You can't have a revolution without songs." Two Chileans, Violeta Parra and Victor Jara, were the leaders of the movement, though Jara was killed less than three years later after a vicious military coup destroyed most of what Allende's revolution had wrought. (Two other important Chilean groups, Quilapayun and Inti-Illimani, remained in exile for many years.) Nevertheless, nueva cancion spread across South America, however, leading to parallel movements in Cuba (termed "nueva trova") led by Pablo Milanés and Silvio Rodríguez, as well as in Nicaragua and El Salvador.