Elsa Morán

Real name: Castillo, María Cáceres
Nicknames: Rubí Castillo
(31 August 1931 - 15 April 2019)
Place of birth:
José Pedro Varela (Lavalleja) Uruguay
Diego Rodríguez Cubelli

he is one the most important and renowned vocalists that Uruguay has brought to tango from the second half of the twentieth century to nowadays.

She was born in José Pedro Varela, a small town located in the northern area of the Departamento de Lavalleja. At an early age with her family she moved to the city of Río Branco (Yaguarón), Departamento de Cerro Largo, near the border with Brazil. But it was in Montevideo where she started with singing.

At age twelve she appeared in a radio program emceed by the payador Nicolás Fernández “La hora gaucha”, aired by CX42. Later as Rubí Castillo, with her sister Perla she formed the duo known as Las Hermanitas Castillo which had a songbook with folk pieces. This is another genre that she has kept throughout her career.

In 1964 and for the following three years she joined the Donato Racciatti orchestra and then the bandleader decided to announce her as Elsa Morán so it became her stage name.

In 1976 the Clave label published the record “Lo que quisiera tener”. Then she recorded as Rubí Castillo accompanied by a guitar group led by Mario Núñez. With a repertoire of old folk songs and pieces based on folk rhythms she recorded, among other numbers, the following: “Chúmbale los perros”, “Guitarra, guitarra mía”, “En blanco y negro” and “Quisiera escribirte”.

In 1980 she appeared in the theatrical show “Tango siempre”. It was written by Alba San Juan and directed by Raquel Azar and was staged at the El Tinglado theater of Montevideo.

In 1981 the Sondor label issued the LP “Esquina gris al sur”. Here she was accompanied by the trio led by the pianist César Zagnoli with Hugo Díaz on bandoneon and Terrón on bass. In some numbers strings (three violins and a cello) were added with orchestrations by Mario Orrico. The pieces we highlight in this record are: “Esquina gris al sur” and “Qué más querés de mí” by Alba San Juan, “Mi bandoneon y yo (Crecimos juntos)”, “Copa de ajenjo”, “Milonga en rojo”, “Condena” and “Juana de Ibarbourou” by Llaria and Cerviño.

In 1982 she made a tour of Japan and she was the first Uruguayan female singer that recorded tangos in (phonetically transcribed) Japanese and so she premiered “La cumparsita” the day when the 65th anniversary of its creation was celebrated. The tour included the cities of Tokyo, Shimoda, Osaka and Kyoto.

Along with the Trío Sur that includes Miguel Ángel Trillo on bandoneon, Roberto Dionigi on piano and Gustavo Palomeque on bass, she recorded the disc “Juana Chancleta”, published by the Sondor label in 1989. On this tape were recorded, among others, the pieces: “Vergüenza de vivir” and Alba San Juan’s “Juana Chancleta”, “A un semejante” and “La pulpera de Santa Lucía”.

With the Antonio Cerviño orchestra in 1990 she cut the record “Candombaile”. For this recording the leader requested Edelmiro D'Amario Toto as arranger, the pianist Rubén De Lapuente and Néstor Casco on bass, among other musicians. The singers that appeared in that record were: Alberto Rivero, Nancy De Vita, Lina Pacheco, Nelson Lagos, Nelson Pino and Aldo Alfonso.

Backed up by Rubén De Lapuente on piano and direction, Jorge Malvárez on bandoneon, Neldo Castro on double bass and Mario Núñez on guitar, in 1998 she recorded the CD “Tango sin fronteras”. We highlight the following numbers by Uruguayan authors: “Te extraña” by Ledo Urrutia, “Estamos iguales” by Blanco and Cerviño and “Nada digas” by Delor and Douglas. With the same accompaniment she appeared in the north of Brazil.

In 2004 she returned to the recording studios. This time with the accompaniment of the guitars led by Mario Núñez. In some numbers Julio Cobelli on guitar and Julio Frade on piano were added. Here she came back to the folk songbook and included numbers of the Uruguayan popular song. We highlight: “Los boliches” by Ignacio Suárez and Yamandú Palacios, “Milonga de pelo largo” by Gastón Ciarlo aka “Dino”, “Minas y abril” by S. Inzaurralde and Santiago Chalar. She also recorded the tangos: “Moneda de cobre”, “Cosas olvidadas” and “Almagro”. The disc entitled “Hojarasca” was published by the Ayui label.

In her latest CD (“Qué más querés de mí”, 2007, Ayuí) she was accompanied by the Tango Por Tres trio. They are musicians of the Departamento de Maldonado: Julio César Delgado (bandoneon), Aurelio Alvira (piano) and Nélson Fernández (bass). In this CD she included new renditions of numbers previously recorded: “Esquina gris al sur” and “Qué más querés de mí” and cut new pieces, among others: “Domingos en casa de abuela” by Carlos Soto and Cerviño and “Mi ciudad y mi gente”.

She has received numerous recognitions throughout her career, among which we can mention the ones awarded by AGADU (Asociación General de Autores del Uruguay) and SUDEI (Sociedad Uruguaya de Intérpretes).