Roberto Parra Sandoval

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Roberto Parra Sandoval
Born (1921-06-29)June 29, 1921
Died April 21, 1995(1995-04-21) (aged 73)
Genres Folk
Instruments Guitar, vocals

Roberto Parra Sandoval (June 29, 1921 – April 21, 1995), also known in Spanish as El tío Roberto (Uncle Roberto), was a Chilean singer-songwriter, guitarist and folklorist, member of the Parra family, many of whose members are famous artists. He died in Santiago at age 73.


Early times[edit]

Born in Santiago, Chile as the son of Clarisa Sandoval Navarrete and Nicanor Parra Parra, uncle Roberto was the fifth son in the Parra Sandoval family, after siblings Nicanor, Hilda, Violeta and Eduardo, and born before Caupolicán, Elba, Lautaro and Óscar. His first steps in music were precipitated by the early death of his father. With his siblings Violeta, Eduardo and Hilda, he started to sing in the streets of the small towns and villages around Chillán and Parral.

In 1935, when he was fourteen years old, Roberto started to work as a guitar player in several circuses, and cabarets, first in southern Chile. Until the late 1950s, he worked traveling north and south, becoming very popular, along with his brother Eduardo, with whom he formed the Dúo de los Hermanos Parra (Parra Brothers Duet) in 1938. He sporadically worked in several other jobs: on Valparaíso's dry-docks, as a paperboy, shoeshiner, welder, mechanic helper, carpenter, and the owner of a furniture shop, among others.

San Antonio's cabarets and La Negra Ester[edit]

In September 1957, he arrived for the first time in the Chilean port of San Antonio, where he was hired to sing with the orchestra of the cabaret Luces del Puerto. In the boite Río de Janeiro, he met La Negra Ester, a prostitute and performer of the boite. They started a sentimental relationship that was immortalized in his book Las décimas de la Negra Ester, a poetry book written in décimas. Andrés Pérez Araya, director of the theater company Gran Circo Teatro, later adapted La Negra Ester for the stage; the stage adaptation became a milestone in Chilean theater.[1]


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