|Joaquina Carreras sings. A frame of Ariel's audiovisual recording|
The parallels with the suppressed story of Lita Morales were uncanny, and left no doubt that, like Lita, Joaquina Carreras must have quit the world of tango, and possibly with bad blood. So at a first spare moment, I went searching for "the real Joaquina" - but unlike the mystery case of Lita Morales, the life path of Joaquina Carreras came to light relatively quickly. She turned out to be a bit of a transient, only coming to BsAs in the second half of the 1920s, and leaving when the Great Depression decimated the artistic world of Argentina. I still don't know what pushed the Argentine tango world to forget her, but possibly it was just the fact that she was a foreign interloper - and a woman in the genre of tango-for-dancing which continued to adamantly reject women for another decade... Of many feminine voices in tango then, all without an exception sang "tango for listening", for the radio and the concert, for the daylight hours. No decent women were yet allowed at night in the sacred and obscene universe of the milongas. So let's pay tribute to the female trailblazer, Joaquina Carreras Torres!
Joaquina was born in 1892 in Seville in the family of a well-known actor Emilio Carreras López. Her father died when she was 23, and in the early news clips about Joaquina, she is invariably called "a beautiful daughter of her untimely departed father". Like her father, Joaquina Carreras acted in comedies,in the theater plays and in the movies, but she's become best known for her soprano voice and her love of folk songs.
Her first known foreign tour was to Cuba in 1921 in a large artistic troupe with her new husband Jose Encinas and their just-born first baby Joaquina Jr. The 21 Sep 1921 New York arrival record of S.S. "Buenos Aires" from Barcelona (in transit for Havana) lists Joaquina as a 20 years old resident of Madrid with blue eyes, 4 ft 11" (some later accounts describe her as a psychologically towering presence, no doubt with an element of a pun). Of course her real age was closer to 29 then, but since her actor husband was several years younger, she must have preferred a little adjustment of age. Joaquina's husband tragically died in 1923, but in the 1924 and 1925 we find her in the entertainment sections of Spanish newspapers as an actress and singer based in Madrid.
In 1929 she records 3 valses and 2 tangos with Guido, in her trademark folk-song style especially evident in their "Valsecito del Antes". The most surprising thing about these records is that she sings estribillo solamente, only the bridge, without the stanzas. This approach was introduced specifically for the dancers by the ever-experimenting Francisco Canaro only a few years earlier, in 1924 (until then, tangos for dancing were strictly instrumental, while vocal tangos for listening, initially also known as tango milongas, always used the complete text with all the stanzas). Estribillista singing is stricktly para bailar, yet no women were allowed to sing for the dancers ever before or for many years after! In the same year Joaquina Carreras takes part in an experimental audiovisual recording of the Ariel studio. Then she records a few pasodobles and fado with Carabellli. And in 1932 she participates in the first experimental TV broadcast in South America!
By 1934, Joaquina Carreras is back in Madrid, singing with the studio sextet of the Union Radio La Palabra and performing in comedies I couldn't resist adding one of the radio program clippings here, because there, in May 1936, she sings "Ojos negros - cancion popular rusa". Of course it must be the tango remix of the famous "Dark Eyes" premiered a year earlier by the spectacular Imperio Argentina (see an earlier story on this blog) As the nation is ravaged by the Civil War and Madrid is besieged, Joaquina briefly disappears from sight again, but beginning in 1940, she's back again, acting in Spanish movie comedies. She died on Nov 20, 1954 in Madrid. Interestingly, her daughter Joaquina "Jr." Encines Carreras moved to Buenos Aires after her mother's death!