Ana Tijoux Explains the Enduring Impact of Violeta Parra Ahead of Tribute Concert

Ana Tijoux
Courtesy Photo

A diverse line-up set to play at Disney Hall’s “Gracias a la Vida” concert in April.

The traditional music of Chile and its message will fill L.A.’s Walt Disney Concert Hall in April, when a diverse line-up of artists comes together for a tribute to Chilean folk great Violeta Parra.

"Violeta Parra was ahead of her time, a misunderstood libertarian, emancipated and free in the most acute sense of her work and with her words,” says the fierce and feminist hip-hop artist Ana Tijoux, who will perform at the April 25 show.

“Through her work Violeta wove and threaded the history of the Chilean campesino, complex, unjust and poor,” explains Tijoux, whose own songs reflect common ideals with Parra’s folkloric anthems. “Violeta is pain and beauty, strength and sensitivity. Violeta is the mother of our music, our mother muse, and our mother voice.” Pop singer-songwriter Francisca Valenzuela and Parra’s niece, Colombina Parra, are also scheduled to perform at the tribute. They will be joined by Illapu, a Chilean group whose music is based on Andean rhythms with lyrics calling for the preservation of indigenous Latin American culture.

Parra, revered as a founder of the Nueva Cancion movement and one of the best internationally known Chilean names, traveled the Chilean countryside to collect and interpret traditional folk songs. She was also a prolific composer who was dedicated to keeping folkloric song and dance styles like la cueca alive. After a period spent recording, performing and showing her paintings and weavings to acclaim in France, she founded a cultural center in the Chilean countryside. Parra committed suicide in 1967.

The tribute in Los Angeles is titled for her song “Gracias a la Vida,” which would become one of the most recognized and frequently interpreted Latin American songs in history after it was recorded by like-minded Argentine singer Mercedes Sosa.  Disney Hall will stage a separate tribute to the “Rebel Spirit of Mercedes Sosa” during its 2016 season.