Mercedes Carné

Real name: Carné, Mercedes
Singer and lyricist
(12 April 1908 - 21 September 1988)
Place of birth:
Río de Janeiro (Rio de Janeiro) Brazil
Guadalupe Aballe
| Néstor Pinsón

er parents, operatic singers, were members of the company led by the Spanish baritone singer Luis Sagi Barba that was performing in Brazil. On their voyage back to our country their daughter was born on a Brazilian ship. On old notes about the artist it is said that the birth had taken place in 1912 in the city of Rio de Janeiro. But later on other interviews the protagonist cleared out those doubts.

Her elegant clothes, a pair of dark eyes and a nice voice made her stand out. She was called «dark-haired grace turned out into song» and «a heart that sings». She sang tango tunes and sentimental and melodic songs.

The heritage of her recordings allows us to find a quite suitable female singer who was unable to reach a place in the world of tango, something that she would have deserved, around 1931 when she released a great number of her recordings.

Possibly she came late. Her predecessors had been born some years before —but not all of them— and they were already so consolidated that in the following decades and up to the present very few managed to join the group of stars comprised by Libertad Lamarque, Azucena Maizani, Ada Falcón, Rosita Quiroga, and even Tania and Tita Merello. They all had begun to record in the 20s.

A special paragraph we have for another great of that hall of fame, Mercedes Simone, with whom Carné is associated, not only because of her name but also because of her tango like voice and an easy style that is similar.

Her debut on a stage must have been the most precocious in history. Her father was performing in an opera number The Magyars and, in a scene, the character he played had to appear holding a child in his arms. A doll was generally used but on that occasion he did it carrying his daughter Mercedes who was only 15 days old and had arrived in the country 12 days before.

She was only six when she made her debut on theater. She sang some tonadillas and a medley of cuplés that the Spanish female singer La Goya in 1914 had made hits in Buenos Aires. Due to this performance the actress and singer herself, surprised by the uninhibited child, named her La Bella Goyita. It turns out interesting the story of the nom de plume of this artist, whose true name was Aurora Jauffret de Borrás. She was alumnus of José Padilla, the author of “La violetera” and “El relicario”. They say that, for an important show, she had the funny idea of dressing up like the Maja of Goya’s painting.

Her parents, when they quit theater, tried to run a baker’s shop in the city of La Plata. The undertaking failed and they were in a poor financial situation. Because of that and when she was still a teenager, Mercedes began to sing at the Bar Guaraní, firstly accompanied by a guitarist named Rodríguez and the Casals brothers, later by the Ángel Greco, Ciacio and Buscaglia trio.

Later she moved to the Capital and found a job on Radio París. According to those with good memory, the first number she sang was the tango “No me escribas”, by Bardi and Caruso. Thereafter she appeared in the play titled Sunchales as figurante at the Teatro Nacional. But the leader of the orchestra, Salvador Merico, heard her and made her join the choir conducted by maestro Antonio Lozzi. There she sang Filiberto’s tango “Amigazo”.

In 1930, she was starred successfully in the short film Canción de cuna shown for thirty days at the Cine Porteño. This movie was directed by Héctor Bates, to whom Mercedes was linked sentimentally. She trusted him as advisor in matters concerning her career.

Again as figurante she appeared at Tu cuna fue un conventillo, the definitive launching of Libertad Lamarque. On some scenes she resumed singing with the tango “Malevaje” composed by Filiberto.

By that time she had already appeared on several radio stations. In 1931 she was member of the cast of the cast of Juancito de la Ribera, Alberto Vaccarezza's play, in which she sang “El poncho del amor" composed by Antonio Scatasso with lyrics by the playwright. Among the audience was a manager of the Brunswick company who offered her a recording contract. Then, with the accompaniment of the sextet led by Carlos Di Sarli, she recorded 22 numbers in that year and the following. On the record labels the name of the maestro is not mentioned because he had signed with the Victor company. Some people said the orchestra was Osvaldo Fresedo's. The evidence of photographs and the testimony of the artist herself cleared out this confusion.

It is as well to be highlighted her appearance at the Teatro Smart at a play staged by the company headed by Enrique Muiño, in which she sang with the accompaniment of the orchestra led by Juan Maglio.

Her work was sometimes underrated with a poor pay. She even appeared in a circus in the city of Quilmes accompanied by a brass band, but by the mid- 30s her financial situation had notably improved.

She must have been a simple woman. She used to say that she loved pets, especially dogs and cats. She liked barbecue, beefsteak and lettuce salad. She had a curious hobby, target shooting, and was an avid reader of Emilio Salgari's books.

Always under the Bates' advise, Mercedes showed she was an innovative singer. So much so that by 1933 she already defined herself as a melodic singer. And to that genre she devoted herself completely. She explained about that shift in her repertory: «When I started on the radio, around 1930, I noticed that no female singer chose sentimental songs and, because my temper was quite suitable for that genre, I decided to approach it exclusively.» (Revista Antena, 5/25/1935).

Mercedes had not forsaken tango completely because she included tango pieces from time to time in her songbook, but she had given an important twist to her career. Her repertory included rare pieces, Hungarian songs, Viennese waltzes and even Russian classics.

When in 1935 Radio El Mundo was opened she was the first female artist hired. After two years she switched to Radio Belgrano. In 1941 Bates found a new destiny for the remainder of her career, he made her a soup opera actress on the radio. He himself directed her and many titles were written by him. Much later she joined the Juan Carlos Chiappe's company. In both cases the plays were serial stories, extremely melodramatic, but with a great popular acclaim. The plays were later staged at the theaters in the neighborhoods and in the interior.

In the early 50s she was to appear at the movie Yo quiero a mi madre that was shot, we think, but was never released. She formed her own company and continued to work on little novels in the city of Rosario and in Buenos Aires until her final stitch in 1975, when she was accompanied by the actor Jorge Bellizi on the now disappeared Radio Porteña.

To finish this outline we bring her opinion which portrays her entirely: «If broadcasting is in itself admirable, I dare to imagine what will happen the day the audiences succeed in seeing us performing in the studios or on stages».

Undoubtedly, this comment, prior to the invention of television shows her searching vocation and her visionary imagination. She managed to see her dream of the soap opera on TV come true and, surely, to verify the truth of her thought, although she had not the chance to appear on that medium.