Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Consuelo Velazquez: Composer of Besame Mucho

Consuelo Velazquez was sweet sixteen and had never been kissed romantically when she began listening to a seductive composition by Granados. She was so moved by what she heard that she wrote her most famous song, Bésame Mucho. This week, on Itinerarios (Sunday @ 7PM), we hear this heart-throbbing song and explore its origins

Velazquez was no one hit wonder, nor was she exclusively a songwriter. At the age of four she began to play piano and by the time she was a teenager she was making her solo debut at Bellas Artes, in Mexico City. But it was entertaining as a singer and songwriter which ultimately appealed to Velazquez. In addition to Bésame Mucho, she wrote Amar y vivir, Verdad amarga, Franqueza, Que seas feliz, Cachito, and Enamorada. Many of these songs were written as she worked on XEQ Radio. She admitted in a 2003 interview that the music came easy, but that she often struggled with the poetry of the lyrics. By the way, Consuelo Velazquez was eventually courted and kissed by Mariano Rivera Conde, the artistic director at XEQ. They married in 1944, enjoying life together until his death in 1977.

Bésame Mucho is reported by BMI, the music publishing giant, to have had more than two million performances on radio and television. The song was recorded by a wide range of artists, including Danny Aiello, Josephine Baker, Dave Brubeck, the Beatles, Vikki Carr, José Carreras, Charo, the Coasters, Nat King Cole, Xavier Cugat, Plácido Domingo, Bill Evans, the Flamingos, Connie Francis, Dexter Gordon, Chris Isaak, Harry James, Spike Jones, Diana Krall, Frankie Laine, Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme, Julie London, Trini Lopez, Dean Martin, Carmen McRae, Nana Mouskouri, Les Paul, Art Pepper, the Platters, Tito Puente, Artie Shaw and the 101 Strings Orchestra.
James Baker, host and producer of Itinerarios.

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