Elba Berón

Real name: Berón, Elba
(31 December 1930 - 5 March 1994)
Place of birth:
Zárate (Buenos Aires) Argentina
Abel Palermo

he was born in the city of Zárate, province of Buenos Aires. Her parents were Adolfo Manuel Berón and Antonia Iglesias. Her father, a singer, composer and guitar player encouraged all his children, since early childhood, to learn guitar playing and singing. Consequently, with the passing of time, all of them succeeded in standing out, firstly, in Argentine folk music and later they turned out renowned figures in tango. Adolfo, José, Raúl, Elba and Rosita became truly heirs of the art of don Adolfo, in a home daily visited by artists where music was part of the family life.

Elba made her debut on radio in 1943 at the program known as the Matinée de Juan Manuel as singer of folk songs, accompanying herself on guitar.

In 1946, at age 16, along with her sister Rosita, who was 13, reprised what 10 years before their brothers José and Raúl had made. They formed a duo to appear on Radio Belgrano to perform folk songs, milongas and waltzes.

The color of Elba’s voice had reminiscences of those of her brothers Raúl and José. She sang with a very personal phrasing, displaying a great ductility, either in her folk repertory or in the jolly and romantic songs. Rosita contributed to the duo a higher voice and both were a perfect team which resulted in a boom for the ten years they sang together. They appeared at the most important live broadcasts and cut many recordings.

By that time, between 1945 and 1955, our national music was protected and promoted by the Ley de Difusión (Broadcasting Law) which demanded that a 50 % of the music aired on radio, in the shows at dancehalls, in the tearooms had to be national music. Furthermore it similarly ruled as for live shows during the intermissions at movie theaters.

Las Hermanas Berón (the Berón Sisters) were showcased as featured artists at the tearooms La Querencia, Goyescas, Mi Refugio and on the radio stations Belgrano, El Mundo and Provincia.

Unfortunately, in 1956 the duo disbanded because Rosita married to a well-known soccer player, member of the Club San Lorenzo de Almagro. His name was Roberto Resquin and he signed to play in Colombia, so the couple was forced to move abroad. Since then Elba continued her career as a soloist and focused on tango.

In 1960 an important event for her career took place: she was hired to appear in a musical comedy written by Enrique Santos Discépolo, Caramelos Surtidos, and Cátulo Castillo was in charge of staging it. In the above mentioned play she was featured singing the tango “Y a mí qué”, written by Aníbal Troilo and Cátulo. At the end of the theater season she joined the Troilo’s aggregation as substitute for the vocalist Ángel Cárdenas, shortly replaced by Jorge Casal. The other singer in the orchestra was Roberto Goyeneche. She was the first woman who joined as staff singer an orchestra of the level of Aníbal Troilo’s.

With Pichuco she was nearly 3 years, since February 1961 to November 30, 1963. She recorded 4 numbers for the R.C.A.-Victor company: the first was cut in January 1962, “Y a mí qué”, her hit in Caramelos Surtidos. Later, the piece by Cátulo and Troilo “Desencuentro”, subsequently a milonga composed by her father Adolfo Berón and Eduardo Uzal, “Cachirliando” and, finally, in a memorable duo with Roberto Goyeneche, “Coplas” written by Troilo and Alberto Martínez. Elba and El Polaco display their voices in a vibrant interplay of nuances which provide a singular brilliance to the piece.

Time later, Troilo suspended his performances and, when he resumed his activity, Elba had already started other engagements and so she was replaced by Roberto Rufino. The female singer went on with her career as soloist until 1977. Then she joined again her sister Rosita and became owners of a local, La Casa de las Hermanas Berón, which was opened in the neighborhood of San Telmo. The musical director of the show was the pianist, arranger and composer, Paquito Berón, Elba's son.

The boy had already accompanied her mother with his group on channel 13, in one of the most important programs in the history of the Argentine television, Sábados Circulares, emceed by the unforgettable Nicolás (Pipo) Mancera.

In the 70s Elba recorded a cassette for the Magenta label with the accompaniment of the A Puro Tango quartet led by the maestro Miguel Nijensohn. Its title was Tangos Reos.

For many summers, at their tango venue in Mar de Plata, we enjoyed listening to the voices of the Berón sisters and the music of Paquito.

This very personal interpreter died young, at age 64, but she'll always be present with her singing, her way of saying, her jokes because she was a symbol of the mocking tango like the one sung in the outskirsts in that old Buenos Aires we yearn for.