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La Negra Graciana

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Nicknamed “La Negra Graciana” due to her African heritage, harpist and vocalist Graciana Silva is a treasure of Mexican song jarocho from her native Veracruz.

Born in the 1930s, she began playing the harp at 10 but would not record her first album until 1995, preferring to stay close to home and maintain an active performing career with her father and brothers. She has been dubbed the “First Lady of son jarocho,” and much like her Cape Verdian counterpart Cesaria Evora would wait until her 60s to receive worldwide acclaim.

For most of her life Silva devoted herself to playing in festivals and local venues in her home state of Veracruz, dragging her harp around with her alongside her family members. As a child she was mentored by a blind musician named Rodrigo Rodríguez, who actually began teaching Silva’s brother. Upon hearing the sound of the harp, Silva found her musical calling, and went on to become one of the leading exponents of the regional son jarocho form. It was on one fateful day that Corason record label owner Eduardo Lleranas saw her performing and immediately commenced to record “La Negra” along with her brother and sister-in-law in their modest turkey farm-turned-recording studio.

She has since toured the U.S., Mexico and Europe, and enjoys preserving the authentic, “old-school” playing techniques on her 38-stringed harp instrument, the arpa jarocha.

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