Singer, composer and lyricist
(17 November 1902 — 15 January 1970)
Azucena was born in Buenos Aires. She came from a poor family and worked as a dressmaker in the Barrio of Abasto. She started her career as a tango singer in 1920 with Canaro, who gave her the nickname Azabache (Jet), because of her black hair. Through this, she met the composer Enrique Delfino, who chose her to debut his tango ‘Padre nuestro’ at the Nacional theatre in 1923. It was such a success the audience demanded five encores! Azucena’s career blossomed from there. She not only sang, but also wrote tangos.
Azucena often dressed in men’s clothing for performances (for example, see her performance in the 1933 movie ¡Tango! here). This was not uncommon. In the book ‘Tango’, Simon Collier et al write that ‘unisex and cross-dressing were part of the negotiation process for gender identity and for a place in the tango and in society’.
Azucena also often dressed as a gaucho, and was affectionately given the nickname of ‘La Ñata Gaucha’ (snub-nosed gaucha).
Azucena wrote the music and lyrics for Pero yo Se. The version we played at the Evita Milonga was performed by the singer Angel Vargas with Angel D’Agostino’s orchestra, recorded in 1945. However, you can hear Azucena singing it here.