Ricardo García Blaya

his beautiful criolla born deep in the heart of the humid pampa, in the city of Junín, province of Buenos Aires, is blessed with a natural intonation and a suggestive voice with a great expression and good musicality. Not in vain she is the wife of maestro Fernando Suárez Paz, the great orchestra leader and violinist. Furthermore, she neither forgets her origin nor her roots.

In July 2006, while talking to her about the release of her new compact disc, she told me: «This disc, Tangos camperos, is something I had pending, and I was eager to do it. The first instrument I heard in my life was my Dad’s guitar. He was an amateur player. He arrived home early in the evening and used to play and sing any kind of tunes, southern songs, tangos and I felt like singing with him. I was no more than 4 years old when he played a wrong chord and I told him that it was not right. He looked at me in surprise and added: Fine, we have to start studying!

«He was also a good dancer and a lover of all kinds of music. He used to play in some orchestras in his town and played in guitar groups. When he danced with my mother, people circled around them to see them dance».

Between age 8 and 12 Beatriz studied guitar playing and sight-reading. Her childhood was spent listening to folk rhythms and classical music. And after age 13 she began to study operatic singing with maestro Mario Monachessi, director of the School of the Teatro Argentino de La Plata. Years later she studied with the professor Noemí Souza and polished herself with maestro Sergio Tulián.

In the mid- 60s, in the summertime, accompanied by her relatives that wanted to watch her on television, she traveled to Buenos Aires to have her debut on Channel 7 as guest artist in the program Todo es nuestro. She sang folk music using the sobriquet Beatriz Basualdo, family name of her great-grandmother. On one of those summer trips Alberto Di Paulo invited her to join his orchestra.

She as well appeared on Radio El Mundo and, on one occasion Luis Stazo and Orlando Trípodi, co-leaders of Los Siete del Tango, heard her. They, pleasantly impressed, summoned her to replace the female singer Olga Delgrossi. But she refused, then Gloria Vélez replaced the former. «They suggested me to join them but I wanted to go back to my things and finish school».

In the early 1968, due to the marriage of a cousin, she traveled with her family to the city of Baigorrita and they came to know that that very day Los Siete del Tango were appearing there. «My uncles, named Rodríguez, were bandoneon players and my cousins were tango fans. When the married couple left we all went to a dancehall. Because of our clothes we drew the attention of the people present, to such an extent that Stazo himself, out of curiosity, came to us and, only then, he recognized me».

That evening not only she agreed to join the group but also she acquainted her future husband, the violinist of the orchestra. «All of a sudden I heard the violin playing and it reminded me of Simón Bajour that I very much liked. The vocalist was Lalo Martel and he had sat among us. When I asked him about the violinist he told me: Don’t pay attention to him, he’s from North Corea. He’s terrible and has no manners! I was introduced to everybody but him. Of course, he was Fernando. We got married by the end of that year».

With Los Siete del Tango she appeared on Radio El Mundo under the nickname of Beatriz Bebán. She sang alongside Martel and later with Roberto Echagüe, son the well-known singer of Juan D'Arienzo.

«There was a lot of work. On weekends we had three or four appearances in clubs and salons. We traveled on a station wagon from one place to another». With that aggregation she recorded “Virgen de la serranía” in a duo with Echagüe and “La mentira”. She appeared again on television and made a tour of Chile.

When she quit the group she sporadically appeared with Osvaldo Requena and later withdrew from professional singing. There were two reasons: Fernando was member of the Symphonic Orchestra of the Teatro Colón and they were expecting children. «Since Leonardo and Cecilia were born, for a long time I quit the profession. But I never stopped singing».

After a long period, by the late 70s, a friend physician suggested putting together a group of Latin American music. «Nothing important happened and it didn’t last long but one of its members, Amadeo Monges, introduced me to the pianist Mario Valdez, who was looking for a singer for his compositions. With him was the guitarist Quelo Palacios. I recorded a lot with them, but only as a hobby.

«With Valdez, I remember having appeared in the city of Tres Arroyos where he was Director of Culture. We recorded his Cantata a Tres Arroyos which included a beautiful zamba: “La Tresarroyense”. A few years later we also committed to record: “Cantata a Santa Cruz” and “De sur a norte”».

In 1986 when Requena knew that Beatriz had begun to sing and record again he requested her to sing for him but not with his orchestra but with Roberto Gallardo’s. He wrote the charts for the latter. She was guest soloist in this outfit and recorded “Caserón de tejas” and “El corazón al sur”. Thereafter they cut a compact disc that included as duo with Oscar Larroca (Jr), “Una lágrima tuya”, “Adiós pampa mía” and a tango composed by Gallardo with lyrics by Margarita Marengo, “Volver al amor”. As soloist she cut “Cantando”.

Also she appeared with the company Tango Session, headed by Requena which performed in several countries: Chile, Brazil, Ecuador, Mexico, the United States, Australia and New Zealand.

In 1993 her first disc as soloist was issued, Recuerdos de bohemia, arranged and conducted by Osvaldo Berlingieri. It was nominated to the ACE Award as tango soloist.

During 1994 she recorded “Flores negras” for the disc Tangos del Plata. She also sang in Los Tangos de Saúl Cosentino, volume I and in Tributo a Cobián y Cadícamo. Two years later, for two consecutive months, she appeared at the Teatro Presidente Alvear, during the cycle Martes de Tango, accompanied by the Berlingieri’s trio and sharing the stage with Nelly Omar.

In 1996 she cut her second disc as soloist: Tiernamente, arranged and conducted by Berlingieri with featured guest musicians. In this release her wide vocal range and her quality of interpretation are highlighted. The Piazzolla’s tune “Oblivion” is included with French lyrics, (original version). Later for the Milán Sur label she recorded the disc “Milonga del ángel” with the Quinteto Suárez Paz.

In her career, besides the abovementioned, she sang along the maestros Osvaldo Tarantino, Saúl Cosentino, Aníbal Arias, Ricardo Domínguez, Osvaldo Montes, Néstor Marconi, Atilio Stampone, José Colángelo and Baffa-Berlingieri. With these orchestras she toured the interior of the country and abroad.

It would be overwhelming to detail all her career but we can surely say that nowadays she goes on singing and it’s a pleasure to listen to her.