“El Son de la Negra” – The Second National Anthem of Mexico

Mexican flagThis classic song from mariachi repertoire is so popular it is sometimes called the “second national anthem of Mexico.”  Composed by Blas Galindo in the late 1800’s, this song from Jalisco, Mexico has many versions and variations but is loved and appreciated everywhere as an important part of Mexican folk culture.

What Does The Song Mean?

Since there are numerous variations in the lyrics, it’s hard to tell for certain what the song means.  Clearly, it’s a sad song about lost or separated lovers.  Here’s one popular version of the lyrics in Spanish.

“El Son de la Negra”

Negrita de mis pesares,
hojas de papel volando.
Negrita de mis pesares,
hojas de papel volando.

A todos diles que sí
pero no les digas cuándo.
Así me dijiste a mí;
Por eso vivo penando.

¿Cuándo me traes a mi negra?
Que la quiero ver aquí
con su rebozo de seda
Que le traje de Tepic?

In the lyrics, the singer is asking about the woman that brings him sorrow.  He says that she has told everyone “yes” but will not tell him “when”.  That she has told him “yes” and because of that, he is suffering.

The last verse asks : “When will you bring my “negra”?  I would like to see her here.  In her silk shawl.  That I brought from Tepic (the capital and largest city of the Mexican state of Nayarit).

Who Is “La Negra”?

The title and the use of the word “negra” in this song actually created a stir about a year ago on an English-speaking t.v. channel in the USA.  A mariachi group was asked not to play this song because they felt the title used a derogatory term for a black woman (negra).  However, most Latin American Spanish speakers recognize the words “negro/negra” as an affectionate term for a sweetheart, a phrase better translated as “my darling” or “my dear”, not as “black man or woman”.

You can read more about this controversy and see one excellent explanation/translation of the lyrics here: http://lyricstranslate.com/en/la-negra-black-woman.html#ixzz35s6oWqzd

Mariachi Music For Kids

We’re big fans of the website – KID WORLD CITIZEN that recently published an introduction to mariachi music and Mexican culture for kids. You can read more about that here:

http://kidworldcitizen.org/2014/06/19/mexican-mariachi-music/

Ballet Folklorico del Mexico Performs “El Son de la Negra”

Last but not least, here’s the Ballet Folklorico Mexico’s verison of “El Son de la Negra”.

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