Life brought together Lino Borges, a Cuban, and Homero Parra, a Venezuelan, both from within their respective countries. From that meeting emerged one of the best boleros of all time, nothing less than “Vida consensada”, and although it is true that Homero Parra is its author (lyrics and music), it is no less true that the voice of Lino Borges and the orchestral arrangement by Joaquín Mendível catapulted him to immortality. The story is fascinating even because of the change of title of the famous theme.
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Severo Alberto Borges Abreu was born on August 8, 1933 in the town of Batabanó in the southwest of Cuba, an area of countryside and sea. In fact, he developed in these two aspects because during the day he worked the land and in the afternoon he went fishing. Of course: harvesting or fishing he did not stop singing.
Just like the bearing and presence that characterized him was his voice, careful, without shrillness and with a captivating sweetness. At the Batabanó school he joined the school’s musical band and received percussion and singing classes. He became the most popular child vocalist in the area. He was growing up and where there was an opportunity, Severo Alberto sang.
Thus, his music teacher recommended him to a typical orchestra, and he was accepted. The director of that orchestra, José Ramón González, would be decisive in the career of the young man, who by then was 15 years old.
Lino Borges made his debut with a typical orchestra, whose director. José Ramón González was decisive in his artistic career.
At 22 years of age, Severo is already in the Conjunto Saratoga doing a substitution as a guarachero, but as soon as he opened his mouth on the television space of CMQ TV, the delirium of the public made him sing another, and another. He went from substitute to regular, but loyal and noble, together with the Saratoga he continued for a long time in the typical orchestra of José Ramón González. Previously, in 1957, the musical director and sound engineer Medardo Montero (Radio Progreso de La Habana) had suggested changing his stage name because that Severo thing really did not fit much with the environment of orchestras and boleros. Medardo, the same one who was the recording engineer for “Alma Libre” (Alfredo Sadel and Benny Moré) was the one who artistically baptized him as Lino Borges.
It is the year of his first recording with a group from his hometown, the Conjunto Marino. He will record again and it will go very well, and then “Vida consensada” arrives, with several dates that time and history will have to specify: 1959, 1962 and 1964.
The merit of Mendível and his arrangement
It is not just about Lino Borges and Homero Parra. The figure and musical career of Joaquín Mendível Guerra, the great arranger of “Vida consentida”, the one who made the arrangements in bolero time and thus put the necessary points for the theme to go around the continent, must be vindicated.
It must be said that it was not just any musician, although his name is not so well known. The same happened with Severino Ramos, the great arranger of the golden age of Sonora Matancera, without him being so well known.
Joaquín Mendível’s orchestral arrangement was decisive for the popularity of a song that remains valid despite the years.
Mendível was born in the Cuban province of Ciego de Ávila on March 11, 1919 and since he was a child he stood out for his natural conditions for music. Concerned that the depth of danzón would be known in the world, he was the first to make jazz band orchestral arrangements for danzón. And not only that: so that non-Cuban musicians would understand him better (the danzón), he was able to publish danzones in binary compás while preserving their structure. He was a fearless arranger.
He came to make arrangements for many famous Cubans, including Benny Moré, Carlos Embale and Roberto Sánchez, as well as Lino Borges himself. In addition, as a pianist, he accompanied figures such as Celia Cruz, Olga Guillot, Orlando Vallejo, Orlando Contreras, Rolando Laserie, Blanca Rosa Gil, Tito Gómez, Gina León, Xiomara Alfaro, Orlando Guerra (Cascarita) and a long list of non-Cubans.
In the arrangers it is necessary to stop as much as in the authors and interpreters. They, with their solvency, intuition and study, are usually right when they realize where the strength of a piece is.
The first recording of “Vida consentida”, made with the Modiner label, consisted of 1,800 copies.
Lino records “Vida consentida” with the Joaquín Mendível orchestra. It is stated on the 45 rpm label of the Modiner label that it only made 1,800 copies and then commissioned other labels to reproduce and distribute it.
It must be said that Borges’s affinity orchestra was always the Conjunto Saratoga, with which he spent more than 15 years and with which he traveled to Venezuela. But the Mendível thing was decisive for the popularity of a theme that remains valid despite the years. Mendível was able to place Homero Parra’s composition at the center of his arrangement (he was also a pianist and composer). They also recorded, among others, “Morir de amor”, by Cuban Leopoldo Ulloa, “La vida es sueño” by Arsenio Rodríguez, and “Morir soñando” by Mexican Mario Díaz.
Borges’s visits and tours to Venezuela became events. He came to be received at the Government House by the President of the time, in addition to collecting gold records for the sale of his acetates and literally traveling all over Venezuela because in each city he was claimed. “Vida consensada” was the theme that opened wide the doors of fame for him. Let’s go, then, to the author of the topic.
The life and musical career of Homero Parra is no less fascinating than that of Lino Borges, although the origin of his song “Vida consensual” is beyond imagination.
He was born on October 8, 1937 in El Tocuyo, Lara state, an eminently musical area, and had a full-time musician father. He was a pianist, and unlike many parents, Mr. Alejo did want everyone in his family to be inclined to rhythm, melody, and poetry.
Alejo Parra was his name and Homero, one of his sons, traced the vein, and studied piano and guitar but leaned towards the trumpet, and that would be the instrument that would allow him, after finishing high school in Barquisimeto, capital of his home state, continue his university career in Caracas. He was a trumpeter and he supported himself, working with the instrument to pay for his studies in Economics and Law.
The life and musical career of Homero Parra is also fascinating. spoiled mirna
“Mirna spoiled” was the original title and Homero Parra confesses that he wrote it sitting on a bench in Plaza Madariaga, which was in front of the Santa María University in Caracas. He had a girlfriend, Mirna, and he wrote and dedicated the song to her in waltz time.
There are differences regarding the year of the composition because if Parra says that he composed it when he was 18 years old, in 1964, then one of the dates is incorrect. If he was born in 1937, he would be between 27 and 28 years old at the time of writing that immortal theme. Homero Parra says that he did it in 1964 and there are communicators, researchers who indicate that it was in 1962, and even before. If he composed it at the age of 18, then we are talking about 1955. This chronological theme is recurrent in music. Remains pending.
Being a good musician, the song “Mirna consentida” was recorded and the data points to Raúl Ruiz, of Valencian origin, Orangel Delfín and Mardogo Aguilarte as the first to do so.
It would be the record entrepreneur José Pagé (Cuban resident in Venezuela, manager of the Velvet label) who would look for Homero Parra to ask him to change the title of the song to make it more general. Parra accepted the advice and in Mirna’s place was Vida. And that is how he came to the voice of Lino Borges, whom his arranger Joaquín Mendivel transformed from a waltz to a bolero and was recorded for the Modiner label. Here are other questions. In an interview with one of the founders of the Modiner label, from Cuba, he says that by 1961 the song was recorded on a 45 rpm.
Both Lino Borges and Homero Parra continued their social and musical paths. They were able to meet. Lino performed memorable songs such as “Life is a dream”, “Morir dreaming” and “On the balcony that one”, while Parra continued composing and had two of his interpreters in Mario Suárez and Gualberto Ibarreto.
Lino Borges, died at the age of 71, on August 23, 2003 in a hospital in Havana, due to a lung condition, and was buried in the privacy of his family in his hometown, in Batabanó. He was staying active.
Homero Parra passed away in Caracas on June 19, 2021. He remained active in the political and financial fields but without forgetting his poetic moments, music and the trumpet that helped him stand out so much.
Master arranger Joaquín Mendível died in Miami on September 22, 1997. Of the three, he was the only one who died outside his country.
Few videos of Lino Borges performing “Vida Consentida” are preserved. Here we present one, made in Cuba.
Disclaimer: Via Telesur – Translated by RJ983
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