Parra, Violeta (1917–1967)

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Parra, Violeta (1917–1967)

Violeta Parra (b. 4 October 1917; d. 5 February 1967), Chilean folklorist, singer, and composer. Parra was the mother of the musicians Ángel and Isabel Parra and sister of the poet Nicanor Parra. Born in San Carlos, in the province of Nuble, she moved to Santiago in her teens and scraped together a living by singing in bars, cafes, and restaurants. In the early 1950s she found her vocation as collector and performer of folk songs, and later made some memorable recordings. She soon began writing her own songs in folk idiom as well as developing her talents for weaving, pottery, and painting.

Parra lived for two periods (1954–1956 and 1961–1965) in France. Finally returning to Chile, she recorded her classic "Last Compositions of Violeta Parra," several of whose tracks are of exceptional quality, and established a folklore center in a circus tent in the Santiago suburb of La Reina.

A passionate, direct, sometimes tempestuous woman—she was called by Pablo Neruda "a saint of pure clay"—she shot herself, partly in despair over a broken love affair. The music of this extraordinary woman was a key inspiration for the New Chilean Song movement of the late 1960s and early 1970s.

See alsoMusic: Popular Music and Dance .


Isabel Parra, El libro mayor de Violeta Parra (1984).

Carmen Oviedo, Mentira todo lo cierto: Tras la huella de Violeta Parra (1990).

Additional Bibliography

Morales T., Leonidas, and Nicanor Parra. Violeta Parra: La última canción. Providencia, Santiago de Chile: Editorial Cuarto Propio, 2003.

Sáez, Fernando. La vida intranquila: Violeta Parra, biografía esencial. Santiago de Chile: Editorial Sudamericana, 1999.

                                             Simon Collier