Jorge Palacio (Faruk)

or many —and among them we are—, Hugo Marcel is comfortably among the five best singers of the present time. His vocal color, his strength, his dramatism, his phrasing and his energy that he knows how to brake down when the piece requires it, are the features of his style so personal. He was was born in the neighborhood of Villa Luro and he didn't have to wait long to appear in the professional field. In 1957, when he was only fourteen he joined Leopoldo Federico's orchestra as a precocious boy.

One year later, due to the initiative of Alejandro Romay, the brand-new proprietor of Radio Libertad, Federico formed an artistic team with the exquisite Elsa Rivas and the temperamental Roberto Rufino. To the mentioned group the juvenile voice of Gregorio Cárpena was added, and they all made their debut on the above mentioned radio station and appeared at the already mythological Richmond café on Suipacha street. Gregorio was no other than Hugo Marcel who adopted the sobriquet Hugo Marcelino.

Always as vocalist in that orchestra and in a special program aired by Radio Belgrano, he was encouraged artistically by Azucena Maizani and Alberto Marino. What mentors, brother! In the late 1958, the team Rufino-Rivas-Federico was dissolved. Roberto Rufino and Elsa Rivas followed each one their respective careers as soloists and Leopoldo Federico continued leading the Staff Orchestra of Radio Belgrano.

The breakup of the group «not a drama» for Hugo, since Miguel Caló, a leader with a great instinct for singers, summoned him to join his orchestra. His tenure in that aggregation was not long, but he appeared on Radio Belgrano, in neighborhood clubs and dance rooms. At that stage with Caló he did not made recordings.

The year 1959 meant a landmark in his artistic career, he was required by maestro Osvaldo Fresedo to be vocalist of his orchestra. In the orchestra the other vocalist was the singer Carlos Barrios. Under his father's advice and Fresedo's he changed the sobriquet Hugo Marcelino into the definitive name of Hugo Marcel.

Using for the first time his new name he was presented as Fresedo's singer at age 15. It was an excellent period for El Pibe de La Paternal since he was requested by important clubs: Comunicaciones, Náutico de Olivos, Regatas, Lugano Tennis Club and others. He also performed at the dancing parties of the Nino tearoom of Vicente López and at the elegant dancing evenings of the Plaza Hotel and the Alvear Palace Hotel.

In 1960 the Osvaldo Fresedo Orchestra appeared at the well-remembered carnival dances of the Luna Park stadium. On that occasion it was with Blanca Mooney, Carlos Barrios, Roberto Ray and Hugo Marcel as vocalists. With his orchestra and the same singers, the composer of “El once (A divertirse)” made a successful tour of Montevideo and the interior of Uruguay.

On January 12, 1959 Marcel recorded for the first time. It was, logically, with the Fresedo's orchestra. The tangos chosen for that occasion were “Qué lejos de mi Buenos Aires”, “Después de carnaval”. The latter had been a hit several years before with Ricardo Ruiz on vocals. The orchestra, with Marcel and Barrios, appeared on several occasions on Channel 7 and was showcased in the famous Sábados Circulares emceed by Nicolás Manceraon Channel 13.

Months after he married Dolores Martha Barros, Lolita —in September 1961— he split with Fresedo. He was replaced by Roberto Bayot. By the early 1962 when the jobs for tango players became very few due to different reasons that we don't have to comment, Hugo was forced to take other directions within the popular song field. Like several tango singers -Raúl Lavié and Horacio Casares, among others- he devoted himself to the romantic melodic genre. For a good singer of tangos, performing that type of music doesn't pose any problem. On the contrary it enriches the work. For that reason he was consecrated as international singer, and for that he required the accompaniment of great conductors: Lucio Milena, Waldo de los Ríos, Oscar Toscano, Buby Lavechia and Horacio Malvicino. But luckily, he soon returned to tango, the love of all his lifetime.

In 1964 he was called by maestro Mariano Mores to sing in his Orquesta Lírica Popular (Popular Operatic Orchestra) along with the beloved and remembered Susy Leiva. With Mores he had the opportunity to make important tours of the interior of the country and to appear in big television productions. In that time he had the chance to perform with Tita Merello and Hugo Del Carril. In 1964 he recorded several numbers with the Mores's orchestra. The first recording was on July 23 and the last on October 5. Among those recordings we highlight “Viejo Buenos Aires” and “Tan sólo un loco amor”.

That same year, due to the offers that were made by all the media, he quit the orchestra led by Mores. It was then when the great composer included his son Nito as singer. But he unfortunately died very young. Between 1969 and 1974 his career was distributed between the melodic repertoire and tango. But tango was calling him and in 1974 he began to be perform with Roberto Pansera's accompaniment.

In 1975 as Hugo was the top authority of the Asociación Argentina of Artistas de Variedades, he made that the entity sponsored a television program so that, along with the great figures, singers, vocal or instrumental groups were presented, in order to promote them. Most of them later continued an important career in the country and abroad. The program was titled Variedades concert. Its musical director was Quique Lanóo; its conductors: Nelly Trenti, Rubén Horacio Bayón and Jorge Ruanova and the one that writes, its script writer.

He returned to the recording studios in 1977 with his brother Eduardo also on vocals. The first recording date was with the accompaniment of Atilio Stampone and later with the Carlos Galván's quartet.

For every artist leaving his country to appear in other places of the world is like the goal of victory. It is not easy to make it if you don't have artistry and a defined personality. Hugo has both, and more. Since 1969, when the Latin American Festival was held in New York up to the present time, he appeared successfully in Chile, Peru, Ecuador, Paraguay, Colombia, Venezuela and Mexico.

In 1970 he performed in the United States for six months. In the North American country he toured the most important cities accompanied by the actress and dancer Beba Bidart.

In 1986 he was called by maestro Osvaldo Requena to appear along with the National Orchestra of Argentine Music «Juan de Dios Filiberto», reorganized to application of the undersecretary of Culture of the Ministry of Education. On that occasion they appeared to great public acclaim at the Teatro Nacional Cervantes, in the Palace of the Congress and in other cultural centers. Parallelly to it and until 1989 he continued appearing as soloist. The following year he carried out a series of performances in the Presidente Alvear theater alongside the worldwide famous Sexteto Mayor.

This outstanding singer that began as professional at age 14, in spite of his brilliant career, is a man devoted completely to his family. It is usual to find the «clan Marcel», composed by his wife Lolita, his mother-in-law María Inés García of Barros and his son Christian, having lunch simply in neighborhood restaurants, far from the atmosphere of the show business.

As a last important thing, I want to stand out that his wife is the daughter of Antonio Barros, a well-known man of the show business in the '50s, '60s and '70s. Antonio was a fundamental piece in Hugo Marcel's career. We all remember those radio programs for the youth entitled Una ventana al éxito (A window to success) from which important groups and modern voices arose.