Néstor Pinsón

t was on October 13, 1994 that I had the chance to present her at my radio program Siempre el Tango aired through Radio Municipal, as soon as I knew that she had returned to our city after many years. She started to sing a capella a fragment of a tango tune in a very soft voice. She was recovering from a serious problem in her vocal cords. For nearly twenty years she had not sung professionally but she then said that she was already doing what was necessary for her rehabilitation in order to sing again with dignity and make some recordings.

She told us about her beginnings with the Ferri vocal quartet, after her arrival at Radio El Mundo, where she stayed for many years working as soloist. From there she skipped to narrate her famous voyage to Japan, a real landmark for the history of tango because that was the first tango embassy that appeared live in that faraway country. The Juan Canaro Orchestra had, as well, Héctor Insúa on vocals and some tango dancers. They had an outstanding recognition, and they performed before the emperor Hiroito. These shows were recorded and they are the testimony of their success.

Reminiscing the quartet led by maestro Eduardo Ferri, she told us that at the opening of Radio El Mundo in 1935, the artistic director of the radio station, Pablo Osvaldo Valle, suggested the musician to put together a group with female voices to perform as vocal background for the singers of the radio staff and as well as a featured group. So the Cuarteto Vocal Femenino Ferri was formed, it was comprised of Mary Mater (her previous pseudonym), María Angélica Quiroga, Lita Bianco and Margarita Solá. Chola Bosch was also a member as an eventual substitute in the group. The quartet was successful, they had stints at different theaters and toured neighboring countries.

María was a teenager with only eighteen years old, when once again the director of the radio station, Pablo Valle, suggested her to appear as soloist singer and also recommended her to bear the one which would be her definitive artistic name. As such she was six more years at that broadcasting. She also recalled that her debut was as guest in the Julio De Caro Orchestra, singing the tango “Buen amigo”. At her shows she was accompanied by the radio station staff orchestra conducted by Juan Larenza and, later, by Andrés Fraga.

In 1943, she switched to Radio Belgrano, which was the radio station second in importance, where she was welcome by the staff orchestra led by Héctor Artola. In the fifties she appeared at Radio Splendid accompanied by the orchestra conducted by Francisco Marafiotti.

It was possible for her to record only after 1946 for the Odeon label whose executives had in mind that she recorded boleros and so to introduce her into the Latin American market. She evidenced her inclination for tango and suggested them to record both genres, what was agreed. She recorded 10 numbers, among them, the tangos “Padre nuestro” and “En carne propia” and the boleros “Tarde azul” and “Amado mío”.

Between 1950 and 1952 she recorded eight numbers more, for the TK label, accompanied by the orchestra arranged and conducted by Astor Piazzolla, but now the songbook is absolutely made up of tangos: “El choclo”, “Romance de barrio”, “Fugitiva”, among others.

Her friendship with Francisco Rotundo resulted in an interesting recorded testimony, rare for the repertoire of that orchestra: “Tata llevame pa'l centro”, in 1957.

The gigs at radio stations were not the whole year long so they were interspersed with other stints. Performances at cinemas and theaters, generally at musical revues in which there were always tango scenes. She specially recalls a month on stage with the Miguel Caló Orchestra.

She as well appeared in the screen because she was starred in three motion pictures, all them of a very poor quality: Explosivo 008 (1940), Fronteras de la ley (1941) and Alma liberada (1951).

She was a tireless traveler, if we take into account her tours throughout nearly all the American continent. Furthermore she joined a theater company that performed at the Teatro Comedia of Madrid. And, of course, we include the well-known tour of Japan with Juan Canaro.

María de la Fuente, like all the female singers of the forties, was unfortunately overshadowed by the boom of the great tango teams: Troilo-Fiorentino, D'Arienzo-Echagüe, D'Agostino-Vargas, Caló-Berón, etc. However, out of her generation she was the one who recorded most, let us compare the few recordings made by Carmen Duval and Chola Luna, among others.

At age 80, she recovered her vocal abilities and entered a recording studio again, releasing: “El último organito”, “Garras” and “Ave María”, accompanied by an aggregation lined-up by Hernán Possetti (piano), Néstor Marconi (bandoneon), Ángel Bonura (double bass) and Litto Nebbia (guitar and synthesizers). These recordings are included in a compact disc released by Melopea, which also contains the live recordings made in Tokyo, on October 4, 1964; two recordings of 1946 with the Américo Belloto Orchestra and one with the Astor Piazzolla Orchestra (on the CD Héctor María Artola is erroneously indicated).

Possessing an interesting voice that expresses a sober pathos and a strong personality, she displays a style with deep tango features which cannot deny the influence of the great female singers that preceded her.

On June 2, 2002, at the Salón Dorado of the Casa de la Cultura of the city of Buenos Aires, she delighted us with her presence and her voice.