María Del Mar Bonet the man-eater

Elsa Baeza

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María Del Mar Bonet

María Del Mar Bonet associated herself with a modern Catalán folk music movement known as "Nova Canço." Although she preferred to sing in her natural Catalán tongue, she expressed the desire to sing in Castilian, English and French "so that more people can understand me." María had initially chosen ceramics as her career choice, and she moved to Barcelona in 1966 to pursue this craft. But it was precisely the move to the Catalán capital that prompted María to take up singing and join a Catalán group called Els Setze Jutges. Creative differences split the group apart, but María continued singing as a solo artist, combining Mallorcan folk-music with her poetry. She suffered direct censorship from General Franco when he forbade her from publicly performing one of her most popular numbers called "Qué Volen Aquesta Gent?" (What Do These People Expect?). In the early days of her career, María had something of a reputation for being a "man-eater," although the truth probably was that she was a slightly more liberated woman than the Spanish music business was accustomed to. "I consider myself more a person than a woman," she declared in 1970. In 1971 her single "L'Aguila Negra / No Voldría Res Més Ara" won the prestigious "Disc de Oro" award. María continues to perform, doing an annual series of summer concerts in Barcelona's Plaça del Rei.

The Catholic Detour

Female singers like Luciana Wolf and Elsa Baeza started out on the pop path, but took a major detour into religious music later in their careers.

Elsa Baeza

Cuban by birth, Elsa was just a teenager when she emigrated to Paris in 1961 to work as a model for the fashion designer Jacques Esterel. Five years later she was on the plane to Spain to star in two films, La Brujita (1966) and Nueve Cartas A Berta (1967)- the beginning of a long film career for Elsa. She sang and played guitar on a few records in the sixties, and performed at Benidorm in 1968, but these were false starts. A breakthrough came in the spring of 1970 with the flamenco-flavored hit "No Te Mires En El Rio," and then with the first Spanish version of the controversially sexy French hit "Je T'aime... Moi Non Plus."Still, Elsa seemed to lack the serious dedication needed to build a long-lasting singing career. She was probably distracted by her chaotic love life that was regularly covered in the gossip columns. In 1977 everything changed. She signed a major label contract with musician Carlos Mejía Godoy and his Nicaraguan band, and the team began recording a slew of religious-themed songs that became big hits of the Christmas season.

The Lid Comes Off

The death of General Franco in November 1975 set in motion a series of profound political and social changes in Spain. Ultimately Spain becomes a before-and-after study of incredible contrasts. Democracy finally came to Spain in 1977, and not far ahead was a sexual revolution that the Spanish call "el destape,"- an expression referring to the act of taking the lid off of something. Due to the rollback of state control, the next generation of Spanish singers would have more media outlets to exploit, and virtually none of the censorship pressure suffered by the sixties generation. As for the many girl singers profiled here who sang well after the death of Franco- well, let's just say they must've felt as if they've led two lives.

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