Simón Díaz, a Latin-American Folklore Icon
The news saddened the world of folklore. Simón Narciso Díaz Márquez, better known as «Simón Díaz» or «Uncle Simon», died in the early hours of Wednesday, February 19, at the age of 85, after struggling for years against the syndrome of Alzheimer’s disease.
It was a sad week, in which the citizens of Venezuela due to an ongoing social crisis that is breaking down the country’s stability.
The lost of Simon Diaz is shared by Latin America folklore community, since Simón Díaz compositions have for years filled the songbooks of many corners of our continent.
Simon Diaz legacy filled many pages of Latin American popular music.
Simón Díaz was born on August 8, 1928 in Barbecues, Aragua a livestock region where he absorbed the music and traditions of Venezuela, improvising songs and tunes from local artists. «Uncle Simon», as he used to be called, was perhaps the most renowned of the composers and performers of the Llanera tune, a very popular music genre in the region of the plains that Venezuela shares with its neighbor Colombia.
Simón Díaz work for many years in the rescue of the Tonada Llanera, which it is now considered as an authentic musical genre, and became a working material for many directors, performers and composers.
The “Tonadas” of Simón Díaz also reached many symphonic and choral arrangements, thus sealing the character of this musical variety.
Many advocated artists of the llanera tune include singers like Mercedes Sosa from Argentina, Caetano Veloso, Ivan Lins and Joyce, of Brazil, Joan Manuel Serrat, Julio Iglesias from Spain, the Puerto Ricans Danny Rivera, Ednita Nazario, Cheo Feliciano and Gilberto Santa Rosa, and the Venezuelan Franco De Vita. Simon Diaz shared stage with renowned figures such as Placido Domingo, Lucho Gatica, Marco Antonio Muñiz, Joan Manuel Serrat, Mercedes Sosa and Atahualpa Yupanqui. His songs were also popular in the voices of giants like Armando Manzanero Celia Cruz, Rubén Blades, Gilberto Santarrosa, the Gipsy Kings, Tania Libertad, María Dolores Pradera, Barbarito Diez, Ray Conniff Orchestra, Ry Cooder, and many more.
The nickname of «Uncle Simon» was the result of his work in television. For 11 years Simon Diaz hosted «Contesta Tio Simon», (Answer Uncle Simon), a popular TV show for kids about Venezuelan folklore, and music. In September 2004, A& E World chain broadcasted a documentary dedicated to his life. Simón Díaz, was the only Venezuelan artist to be awarded «la Orden del Libertador «, (the Order of the Liberator) which is the highest award granted by the State of Venezuela. In 2008, Mr. Diaz won a Latin Grammy but, it was also during that year that he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s syndrome. Among his most famous songs are: Mercedes, Caballo-Viejo, El Alcaraván, Mi-querencia, Savannah, Romance in the distance, Like drops of dew, Tonada of the full moon. Countless songs, and tunes of Simón Díaz will remain for years to beat at the heart of many Latin Americans.
Latino Public Radio pays tribute to this icon of Hispanic – American music. A special show was broadcasted in his honor.
“Parallel 55 – Tribute to Simon Diaz”