The Mayan Who Sang to Love and Won the Gramy: Armando Manzanero

The Mayan Who Sang to Love and Won The Grammy

By Monica Belen

October 2008, Chichén Itzá, in the Mexican state of Yucatán, home of the Mayan culture, the illuminated Kukulkan pyramid, 8000 people eager to listen to the greatest exponent of the Mexican romantic song, Armando Manzanero, seated at the piano, his eternal companion. He says: “I would like to tell you, I was saying to the Spanish tenor Plácido Domingo, and all the gentlemen present, that my grandmother brought me here to Chichen when I was 10 years old. Living with my grandmother was always in Mayan, never in Spanish.  She left this beautiful and blessed world without speaking Spanish. I am  going to sing you a piece of how my grandmother would have sung it in our language ... "In k´áatech ki'ichpan eek 'séen in k'áatech ..." The Master sang in Mayan, the song that has turned around to the world over and over again making everyone who listened to it vibrate in Japanese, French, English and of course Spanish: "Adoro" ...

Armando Manzanero was a giant with capital letters, a Master in every sense of the word, an absolute creator - more than 400 songs that emerged from his inspiration prove it. He composed, sang and made love fall in love, evoking eternal, sublime, divine and deep romance. His music describes in a simple way, but not simply, the complexity of the human feeling manifested in the EROS and the AGAPE, those types of love that are generated by finding in the other - the complete, passionate satisfaction that leads to a deep ardor of perennial contemplation. Melodically, it leads us to a state in which everything is possible simply by thinking about the other. His sensitivity transcends times, borders and hearts.

1935, Mérida, Yucatán, Armando Manzanero Canché is born into a family of musicians, Mayan artists. From the age of eight, he began his musical training in his hometown. He played the piano masterfully; he did not stop writing since 1950 when his first song "Never in the World" was released. It was in 1967, when, motivated by an executive from RCA Víctor, his first album entitled "My First Recording", hence the hit "Adoro,"was released. This beautiful song was performed by Dionne Warwick, Ray Conniff, Plácido Domingo, Andrea Bocelli, Andrés Calamaro, Marco Antonio Muñiz, and José José, among many others.

His first Grammy nomination was in 1971, on the voice of Perry Como with the English version of “Somos Novios” (It's impossible) which was taken up in 1973, by Elvis Presley and adapted by Sid Wayne, the legend's lead songwriter of rock. And what about “This afternoon I saw it rain,” (I Heard the rain) covered by Frank Sinatra so many times and also by Tony Bennet in 1968, who did another version with Alejandro Saenz in 2011.

More than 20 albums to his credit set the tone for the resurgence of romanticism throughout six decades of musical production where the bolero, with his hand, was reinvented to remain in the public's taste. 1991, comes the new Mexican bolero, puts the Maestro in the hearts and minds of new generations with two albums produced by him: "Romance" and "Romance II" (1994), in the voice of one of his best interpreters Luis Miguel. "I don't know about you, but I can't stop thinking ..." wonderful song that was one of the most popular hits of that album; it served as the main theme of the movie "Speechless" in Mexico, known precisely as "I don't know you" starring Michael Keaton, Geena Davis, and Christopher Reeve. (1994)

Countless awards and accolades accumulated throughout his life. In 1993, the Billboard Awards granted him the Recognition of Excellence for his artistic career; in 2001 he won his first Latin Grammy for the best duo or vocal group and duets; nine years later in 2010 he won the Grammy for Musical Excellence. That same year he became the President of the Society of Authors and Composers of Mexico, a position he held until December 28 of this year, the date on which he leaves this world and continues his journey “to talk as many things to the Creator as it is knowing how to love and cry ”. On January 27, 2014, he was the first Mexican to receive the Honorary Grammy Award for his career, alongside Yoko Ono;  This was awarded by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences of the United States, among many other awards he received during his lifetime.

When I met him on August 4, 2014, he arrived very punctually for the appointment. He was a generous gentleman, always with a smile; he was kind, he did not refuse to say hello or take a picture with whomever asked him. I remember him telling me when I naively tried to pay him a compliment for his simplicity: "Look, I am  Mayan, I never forget that, you have to be light as feathers because otherwise you fall harder." That day, and others, he gave a memorable concert in the company of Maestro Rodrigo Macías and the Orquesta Mexiquense, at the Centro Cultural Mexiquense Bicentenario. We all overflow, like the millions of human beings throughout the years of Armando Manzanero's career, in applause and ovations towards him. That size he was, giant up and down the stage, through time. SEE YOU ALWAYS DEAR TEACHER! ..

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