Tona La Negra

Genres: World Music
Decades Active: 1980s 1990s 2000s

Biography

María Antonia del Carmen Peregrino, 1912, Veracruz, Mexico, d. November 1982, Mexico City, Mexico. Toña ‘La Negra’ is to the bolero what Billie Holiday is to the jazz ballad. Like the mambo, danzón, and other song types, the bolero originated in Cuba. The Mexico City film and music boom of the 40s and 50s drew many of the Cuba’s great artists across the Gulf with their music, however, and it was amid all this musical interchange that a young Mexican contralto came to reign supreme in the golden age of the bolero. Coming from an impoverished family, Toña never had any formal musical training, but instead got her start at the age of nine singing at family occasions. As a young woman she made her way to the capital in 1932, where she soon began a vital artistic partnership with Mexico’s great songwriter and singer, Agustín Lara. One account of their meeting tells how Lara sat transfixed upon hearing Toña...

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