Every family has secrets: some are good, some are juicy and others are very bad. This one is of the GOOD variety, the very very GOOD variety. Please, please, read all the way to the end.
Since we launched the blog, only I’ve written and mainly about cooking and me. Although there are a couple of posts including Alan here and here. However, every so often you run into something and say Anjá, this would be a great story for the blog; I have to share this. And so I do.
I met Alan in Miami in the fall of 2000. He was what we in the company called an arrival. As some of you may or may not know, Alan is Chilean of Scottish ancestry on his father’s side. Trust me, his father is a whole other post. On his mother side, well, we really don’t know. She was adopted as an infant. Her name is Isabel.
Of Isabel we hold one truth: She. Can. Sing. No really, she CAN. For our catholic wedding she asked the priest if she could sing us a song. Right before the Ave Maria, she got up went up to the podium and deafened everyone with a rendition of Himno al Amor from Edith Piaf (Hymne à l’amour in French). So impressive were her vocals, that the guy that was going to sing the Ave Maria looked scared to be singing after her. I swear, if he could’ve avoided singing right then and there he would’ve.
Alan always told me stories about his mom and her successful intérprete de bolero career in Chile (that’s ballad singer for the Spanish impaired readers) – and we have her 12″ vinyl LPs to prove it. During the 60’s she traveled the world, including Cuba, as a cantante de bolero. She met a lot of famous singers, including La Negra – Celia Cruz. Her fame was limited to the cono Sur (south cone) and we know she was also heralded in Spain, and even invited to sing there.
But her greatest accomplishment came in 1966. No, not the year Alan was born. Her greatest career accomplishment.
Have any of you ever heard of El Festival de Viña del Mar? Well it is a musical/variety festival that’s been held in Viña del Mar Chile since 1960. Its stage, la Quinta Vergara, has been graced by the likes of Julio Iglesias, Raphael, Celia Cruz, Ricky Martin, Earth Wind & Fire, The Police and many others.
The Festival is quite popular among Latin America and the Caribbean, and of course Spain. It’s held every year and its audience is known as one of the toughest audiences in the world. They are known as el monstruo (the monster) because not only are they hard to please, but they will boo you right of the stage. But if they love you, they will reward you. Featured artists can win an Antorcha de Plata, Antorcha de Oro or Gaviota de Plata. The highest honor is the Gaviota (the latter) and the audience will literally chant in unison for it to be awarded.
In addition, it holds two song competitions – the international and the folkloric. Songs selected as finalists are performed and voted on by judges. But enough about the festival; that’s pretty much all the background information you need.
So back to Isabel’s biggest career accomplishment, or at least one of her biggest. In 1966 she was selected to sing Chile’s entry into the Festival de Viña del Mar International Song Competition.
And this small young lady, about 5 feet tall, belted out the winning song. Yes you read right, the song she sang won the International Competition and she, as the singer and intérprete, won the highest award at the Festival – a gaviota de plata. She. Won. A. Gaviota. That’s pretty impressive!
So here, for your hearing and viewing pleasure, is my mother-in-law Isabel Adams singing Por Creer en Ti winning song of the 1966 International Competition. Sorry I can’t embed the video here, as it is not allowed by the owner Televisión Nacional de Chile (who we will of course be contacting to secure a clean digital copy). Though only 1:29 minutes (the song was a bit longer) it still it is a good thing to have and to show future generations…and yes, to show case her voice as well! We, after all are allowed to brag!
She can sing, huh? Too bad she’s past the age limit for American Idol!