Julio Sosa, ‘El Varón del Tango’

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The tango singer Julio Sosa or ‘El Varon del Tango’ was born Julio María Sosa Venturini on 2 February 1926 in Las Piedras, a Canelones Department suburb of Montevideo, Uruguay. Sosa is considered to be one of the last great tango singers back when tango was winding down after reaching its peak in the 1940’s.

Sosa worked a myriad of unrelated jobs before becoming a star. He was born to a rural labourer, Luciano Sosa, and a washer-woman, Ana Maria Venturini. The young Sosa grew up in poverty. After finishing elementary school, he worked as a peddler’s assistant, itinerant biscuit vendor, municipal pruner, wagon washer, drugstore distributor and second-class sailor in the Naval aviation. His love for singing made him sign up for any available contests. He took off as a vocalist in Carlos Gilardoni’s orchestra and later moved to Montevideo to sing with the orchestras of Hugo Di Carlo, Epifanio Chaín, Edelmiro D’Amario and Luis Caruso. He was able to record for the first time in 1948.

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In June of 1949, Sosa moved to Buenos Aires, where he started out by singing at cafes and tried out for Joaquin Do Reyes’ orchestra, but did not succeed when the orchestra leader thought Sosa’s voice was somewhat harsh for his ensemble. Sosa finally got his big break when, in August of that year, he was discovered by the lyricist Raul Hormaza, who introduced Sosa to Enrique Maro Francini and Armando Pontier. The latter two were in search of a new singer for their orchestra. Before this gig, Sosa was only being paid twenty pesos a night, but he began earning 1,200 pesos a month.

Sosa went on to work with numerous other orchestras, including Francisco Rotundo’s. During this time, his most notable record included “Justo el treinta y uno”, “Bien bohemio” and “Mala suerte”. In 1955, he reunited with Pontier and cut such classics as “La gayola”, “Quién hubiera dicho”, “Padrino pelao”, “Martingala”, “Abuelito”, “Camouflage”, “Enfundá la mandolina”, “Tengo miedo”, “Cambalache”, “Brindis de sangre” and “No te apures Carablanca.”

Sosa showed his artistry in other ways when, in 1960, he released a book of poems, “Dos horas antes del alba” (“Two Hours Before Dawn”). He wrote tango lyrics as well with Edelmiro D’Amario. Also, in 1960, Sosa decided to become a soloist. He requested bandoneonist Leopoldo Federico to organise an accompanying orchestra. The foray proved to be a success. Sosa achieved record sales that seemed impossible for a tango singer in those days, when the young people were more drawn to nueva ola (the new wave). In 1964, Sosa sang and danced “El firulete” for the film “Buenas noches, Buenos Aires.”

Another one of Sosa’s passions was automobiles, specifically sports cars. He owned an Isetta, a De Carl 700 and a DKW Fissore model. All three cars involved him in collisions, but it was the third one that proved to be fatal. In the early hours of 25 November 1964, he crashed high speed his DKW Fissore into a traffic light at the corner of Figueroa Alcorta Avenue and Mariscal Castilla Street in Buenos Aires. He was brought to the Hospital Fernandez and passed away the next day at the age of 38. Just two days before, he had sung his last tango on the radio, “La gayola.”