Carlos Gardél

Within the idiom of tango music, Carlos Gardél stood alone. Gardél was born in Toulouse, France in 1890 but immigrated to Buenos Aires, Argentina with his mother in 1893. Gardél took an interest in singing and dropped out of school in 1906 to focus on his craft under the advisement of José Betinotti. He sang in bars and at parties and by 1910 had a regular performance slot at the O’Rondemann café. In 1917, Gardél was in Montevideo, Uruguay when he met Pascual Contursi, who had set lyrics to a tango song—“Mi Noche Triste.” He performed the song against the wishes of his singing partner José Razzano, but the audience went wild for the first tango performed with lyrics and the duo toured extensively through 1920. Between 1923 and 1924 the pair made a series of acclaimed appearances in Europe and Gardél became a radio personality after his return to Argentina. In 1928, after Razzano had retired due to throat issues, Gardél made his solo debut in Paris and ignited a vogue for tango music that resulted in him being rewarded with a recording contract from RCA. In 1930 Gardél, inspired by Al Jolson, turned to starring in a series of short films to promote his songs and temporarily relocated to France, where he met Alfredo LaPera. In an attempt to make the songs as accessible as possible for the film audience, LaPera and Gerdel worked together and produced some of the most widely known songs of their respective careers. He starred in a series of feature films through 1935, but returned to Argentina to prepare to mount a tour of the Caribbean and northern Latin America. On June 24, 1935 Gardél, LaPera, and their traveling companions were killed when their airplane crashed and burst into flames. As the premier tango singer, his importance and position as the first Argentine international star was immediately recognized and tributes and covers were recorded well after his death.