(December 31, 1913 - June 16, 1973)
True Name: Carlos Belarmino Porcal
eing a child he evidenced his passion for singing. Still wearing short trousers he was the refrain singer in the orchestra of Américo Pioli. He was blessed with a very pleasant temper. In April 1932 he took part in a contest on Westinghouse radio station in which the winner was Enalmar De María. Five months later he sang on CX 46 radio América with the guitarists Canessa and Remersaro and at the salon "Arte Ateniense" as well. The following year he was vocalist of the tango orchestra called "Los Ceibos" lined-up by Jorge A. Puente (piano), Silvio Bloes and Míguez (bandoneons) and José Marotti (violin) which was broadcasted by CX 12 radio Oriental.
His "gang" of friends from "Vaccaro" and other cafés near the Estación Goes, to raise funds for his trip to Buenos Aires, organized a show held at the "Avenida" cinema-theater, located on 2481 San Martín Avenue.
Miguel Angel Manzi said with a clear conviction that, in Buenos Aires, José and Luis Servidio´s orchestra was the first one with which he sang in several radio stations. Of a restless spirit, by then we found him in Lurati-Tobía´s oufit at the "Tupí Nambá Nuevo", a luxurious café on Avda. 18 de Julio, in Montevideo, still remembered; he embarked on a tour of Brazil and in December 1933 was back in Buenos Aires, as soloist on LR3 radio Nacional.
During his first stage in Montevideo he appeared as Carlos Porcal and it was in Buenos Aires where the artistic name of Carlos Roldán was born. He traveled throughout the Argentine territory with his guitarists, having the city of Buenos Aires as main base. In the mid- 1937 -after a season on LR9 radio Fénix he switched to radio Belgrano, with five guitars for accompaniment. In the late 1938 he had the chance of singing in a duet with Mercedes Simone with the background of Pedro Maffia orchestra as accompaniment.
In February 1939 Carlitos Roldán became an outstanding figure on a memorable cycle through radio Belgrano with script of the great poet Homero Manzi, called "El tango de oro". It was accompanied by tango groups, like those of Roberto Zerrillo, Antonio Sureda and Roberto Firpo, among others.
When he was with "El amanecer"´s composer, especially, he was being consecrated as one of the major voices of our popular music. He who had sprung up imitating Magaldi, brought a different personality, more fitting and closer to the one who was -and is- the most important voice of the genre: Carlos Gardel.
He interspersed his appearances with tours throughout the Argentine territory and trips to Montevideo.
Carlitos´s performances with Roberto Firpo date back to 1940. The following year, the singers Ernesto Famá and Francisco Amor split with Francisco Canaro orchestra to lead a new orchestra. Immediately Canaro hired Carlos Roldán and organized a contest to appoint another singer. It is won by Eduardo Adrián. The first disc recorded by our compatriot was the jolly waltz by Rodolfo Sciammarella "La vida en mil gramos". That was on October 28, 1941.
But, in that year 1941 and before, another event had taken place which is worth mentioning. A special recording was made by Roldán with Osvaldo Fresedo orchestra of the milonga "Negra María" by Lucio Demare and Homero Manzi, on October 10, which was nothing else but that, because no public performance took place.
The period with Francisco Canaro allowed a wide showcasing of the singer and actor at the successive musical comedies of that time, as of "Sentimiento gaucho", "Buenos Aires de ayer y hoy" and "Dos corazones". In May 1945 he split with Canaro, although very briefly on September 15, 1947 they met again for only one recording: the tango by Canaro, Mores and Pelay "Yo sólo sé".
After leaving Canaro in 1945, Carlos Roldán headed a tango orchestra led by the excellent pianist José Pascual, composer of the famous tango "Arrabal", which had a short existence, debuting on CX30 Radio Nacional, of Montevideo.
Next came the Montevideo period, where he appeared successively with the orchestra of Emilio Pellejero; as soloist, with Romeo Gavioli and Hugo Di Carlo; returning to Buenos Aires called by Francisco Rotundo in 1949.
In the 50s, he was vocalist of Roberto Caló (1952/1953) and Miguel Caló (1956). It would turn out boring to point out the dates of the Montevideo recordings, but the names of the orchestra leaders are: Donato Racciatti, Luis Caruso, Hugo Di Carlo, Cecilio Duarte, Julio Arregui.
The Uruguayan musical comedy had him as an outstanding protagonist as well. In "El nombre más lindo del mundo" (1947), "Muchachos que peinan canas" (1957) and "Lindo tiempo aquel de ayer". It is worth mentioning that besides singing he performed the role of actor with great ability. The Argentine cinema also had a space for Carlitos. In 1944 "Vidas marcadas", in 1947 "Buenos Aires canta".
His life was lived very hastily. Like so many artists that paid tribute to the wee small hours of the morning, drinks and bohemian life, Belarmino Porcal, his true name, born on December 31, 1913 in the neighborhood La Comercial (where now a street bears his name) departed from this world in Buenos Aires on June 16, 1973. His remains were brought back to his homeland through the initiative of the then President of AGADU, Antonio Cerviño and were buried at the Social Pantheon of that entity.
This does not cover everything of what can be said of a figure so important and loved. Maybe this is the sketch of part of his career for those who did not have the privilege of seeing him and dealing with him so that they may have an idea of how great artist he was.
Originally published in the book Ochenta notas de Tango. Perfiles Biográficos, Ediciones de La Plaza, Montevideo 1998. Sponsored by the Academia de Tango del Uruguay.