Thanks to Life

Many countries, especially in South America, have built their identity, culture or democracy through their war heroes. We have, in Chile, a history full of “brave characters”, many times motivated for foreign interesting more than patriotic feelings. We have learned uncountable times, during our scholar period, the history of our independent process or the official part of our tragic recent past. Honestly, I never felt much interest in these stories. I prefer to learn about the common people that through their talent have contributed to enrich our patrimony. This is the case of a woman called Violeta Parra. She was born in a small town in southern Chile on 4 October 1917. She was a composer, songwriter, folklorist, artisan, painter, visual artist, and social activist.

She was part a numerous family of artists, but with a humble origin. In 1952, she started travelling through the countryside and collected poems and traditional folk music plays from all parts. This was a first initiative to rescue the cultural heritage of poor people. In these travels, she could see the Chilean reality full of economic inequalities that would be present during all her life through, especially, in her songs. After years travelling in Chile, Violeta spent the first years of the 40s in Europe, where she did many performances in different countries.

In 1964 she had the opportunity to arrange an individual exhibition of her artistic work in Louvre Museum, the first by a Latin American artist. Her most renowned song, Gracias a la Vida (Thanks to Life) remains one of the most covered Latin American songs in history. She has been a source of inspiration for several singers, writers, filmmakers and common people that feel her works part of our real identity.

Violeta Parra killed herself on February 5th 1967.