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Arturo “Zambo” Cavero (1940-2009)

Arturo "Zambo" Cavero

Arturo Cavero Velázques, better known by his fans by the pseudonym “Zambo Cavero”, was one of the greatest exponents of Peruvian Creole music. He was responsible for giving voice to the compositions "Y se llama Perú" and "Contigo Perú", the second composition is considered a second national anthem for all Peruvians.

Born in the city of Lima in 1940, Peru, he was the son of Juan Cavero, of Huaral, and Digna Velásquez, of Cañete. His particular singing style captivated listeners, as his intensity had the feel of Peruvian creole taste. “I was born in the Avenida Abancay, on the 11th block, in a quinta, in a little alley that is very well known as the La Banerita Blanca, from which many figures of sport and musica criolla have originated. As well as being the heart of Lima it was also the very edge of Lima, right there was the end of the city. My father was from Huaral and my mother from Cañete. Then, a few blocks down, lived Felipe Pinglo (one of Peru’s greatest song writers)”, the Zambo would tell in every interview he gave.

As well spending time at the Felipe Pinglo music centre, he later graduated as a teacher with a specialisation in Educational Administration and completed further studies in Learning Disabilities at the San Marcos University.

El Zambo Cavero’s unique voice brought to life the works of composer Augusto Polo Campos, Peruvian lyrics about Peru with an unmistakable Peruvian style. As an Afro-Peruvian, he solidified the blend of musica criolla with musica negra, as had been happening in all aspects of the coastal culture, with his constant use of the most Afro-Peruvian of instruments, the Peruvian cajón.

Dearly loved by all Peruvians he became the embodiment of the nation, and his fame and popularity spread to all corners of Latin America. On the 3rd of June 1987 he was awarded and recognised, along with other Peruvian artists who had brought so much joy to so many people, by the Organisation of American States in Washington D.C..

He passed away on October 9, 2009 in Lima. On October 11, the day of his burial was declared a day of national mourning by the Peruvian president Alan Garcia.

Song: Contigo Peru (With you Peru)

“Unidos el norte, el centro y el sur” (“North, center and south united”), proclaims one of the moving verses of the song that managed to fulfil one of the greatest dreams of Augusto Polo Campos, its composer: to unite Peruvians through music. Contigo Perú does just that. It was initially a song created in connection with the qualifying rounds for the 1978 World Cup in Argentina and as a follow up to their other hit “Y se llama Peru”, but with the passing of time, it became the second national anthem. The song still sweeps through football stadions when Peru's national soccer team plays abroad and unites Peruvians during times of celebration, as well as in harder times.


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