Artist

José Antonio Labordeta

Although celebrated as a poet, novelist, TV host, schoolteacher, and congressman, José Antonio Labordeta attracted the most attention as a Spanish folksinger, with more than 20 albums to his name.

An old-school Republican who grew up in Aragón, Labordeta strongly opposed Francisco Franco's dictatorship and used his music as a means of resistance, expressing the sort of democratic views that would have been censored in print form. He began releasing albums in 1968, bringing his poems to life with an acoustic guitar and a fine, melancholic voice. His music struck a particular chord in Aragón, a formerly downtrodden part of northeastern Spain that regained its footing thanks to Labordeta's support, although songs like "Canto a la Libertad" ("Song of Freedom") resonated far beyond his homeland, serving both as a battle cry against Franco's rule and a universal anthem for Spanish-speaking countries across the globe.

Labordeta's concerts often felt more like protest meetings than traditional performances, and by 2000, he'd gathered enough political momentum to earn a spot in congress. He served two terms, operating with same nonconformist approach that informed his music and successfully lobbying against Spain's involvement in the Iraq invasion. Labordeta left office in 2008 and succumbed to prostate cancer two years later, leaving behind a revitalized Aragón and an enduring legacy of Spanish protest music. ~ Andrew Leahey, Rovi

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