Born in Las Hortensias, Cunco,
Cautín province, Rosita Alarcón
arrived in Santiago on the year 1960 to work as
a home maid. Years later she got married and became
a housewife. The cleaning, cooking and care of
her husband and four children could not silence
a true passion: the love for the traditional country
song, that Rosita has cultivated since a little
"With my sisters we would get together
to sing. I also sang on the school evenings, but
did not play guitar. On the parties at the farm
I just listened. What I like most are the `parabienes´
that you do for a wedding or a birthday, and the
`esquinazos´ one sings for the saints. You
can sing an `esquinazo´ for the Virgin,
if there is a procession going by. You put yourself
in front of her and sing".
After moving to the capital, the TV show "Tierra
adentro" and the Mexican songs that were
played on the radio, were for a long time the
only exit for an interest hidden by domestic obligations.
"I would sing the mexican songs, which are
simple: corridos, rancheras... like a vals but
faster". Until one day, when she turned 50,
she went to the Cultural Center of her commune,
Lo Prado, and started a new life. "I went
as therapy, was kind of depressed and the doctor
told me to do something I liked. There I found
professor Osvaldo Jaque and he started teaching
me. I had to go hidden, because my husband didn´t
like me going out. Now he´s accepting it
After a while, her teacher realized that this
student had a big knowledge on her. "He started
playing tunings and saw that I understood some.
On the country singing you play the guitar crossed
over. I knew that because when I was little, we
would go with my parents to see how the singers
played on the south. The teacher would help me
and I started singing on my own, with the guitar,
listening to some tapes. So I started investigating
on the peasant singing. I would like to go back
to the fields, even when the old people are no
longer there. Parties are not like they used to
be, they would go on for two or three days".
With tapes and recordings made on the fields and the big help of her invaluable teacher -a prestigious popular singer and folklorist- and a borrowed guitar, Rosa began reuniting the songs that are now part of her repertoire.
"I try to play them as close I can to the original version. I sing the songs I remember best, because memory sometimes fails me, I get too nervous". Through don Osvaldo, with whom she has worked on two records, Rosita got in touch with the people at Popular Traditions and Oral Literature Archives, in the National Library, who have helped her and even invited her to sing more than once. Violeta Parra, Margot Loyola and Patricia Chavarría are her favorite singers. "What´s nice is the spark, the spice that you add when singing", says Rosita. And even when her thing is the rural "tonada", she does not want to avoid our national dance, the cueca. "At a party you always have to close with a couple of cuecas", she explains.
More than a job, singing has been for Rosita a way for feeling a more complete person, and reclaim a place for her own. "Home consumes woman. So it helps to do other things, the person values herself more. Homework is rarely recognized, it´s just an obligation, nobody thanks you for it. For me, singing has been a motivation for living. With songs, you express what you feel. So now I give fun to old ladies, I teach them songs and how to sing".
Nevertheless, she feels that women's obligations with their homes can not be avoided. "Before, the peasants would be born and die at the same house. Now, people are more liberal. Because the modern woman works, she has to share that with her house, because if you loose your home, you loose everything. Your partner may not understand. If you take the responsibility of working outside your home, you have to know that there are jobs for you that you must do anyway. You win your partner with love and food".