Music, family, sensuality and drugs: life and work of María José Cantilo, the rock adventurer

Music, family, sensuality and drugs: life and work of María José Cantilo, the rock adventurer

María José Cantilo sings with her son at her home in Las Golondrinas, Chubut, in July 2021

He had been playing guitar since the age of seven, left behind a handful of records, recorded with Leon Gieco, David Lebon Yes Oscar More, moved from Buenos Aires to El Bolsón, was imprisoned for possession and trafficking of drugs and made the cover of Playboy, she was a mother and a pioneer. Could there be someone with a life as rock as Maria Jose Cantilo?

María José was an adventurer, as she defined herself, and thus she lived until her last breath. Of those days within a large family in which music reigned – and in which his brother stood out Michael Cantilo-, until his final retirement in his beloved Argentine Patagonia. In the middle, a life, neither more nor less. “Rock ‘n’ roll and night, I went up at 6 a.m. for water“, he wrote on December 23, 2021 on his Facebook and serves as a nice summary of his elapsed time.

He was born on July 5, 1953 in the city of Buenos Aires and from an early age she loved to sing for her nine brothers. With a Catholic education in a conventual school, he decided to leave with this mandate and gave a course in his music. On the advice of his brother Miguel, he left the city to settle for almost 10 years in El Bolsón, where he led a life in contact with nature and the most artisanal. He also began to build his own family, from which his children were born. April, Mariano, Gaspar Yes Moon.

María José Cantilo had four children: April, Mariano, Gaspar and Luna (Photo: Facebook)

Upon his return, music became a full-time occupation and he worked on his first album, whose name was completed as a title, with the artistic production of Leon Gieco and was published in 1984.

“I lived nine years in El Bolsón. Now, after spending a year in Buenos Aires, I have undergone a very profound metamorphosis which has reflected in what I do. Anyway, I don’t think I have a very defined style. In what I do there are soft songs and also rock. There are melodic things, country. In the lyrics, I wouldn’t say they have a feminist side, because that’s a word I don’t like, but I can assure you that I try to encourage women to go to the front and do what they want, not what they want. they can “he told Pelo magazine in May 1983, pushing that work forward.

In addition, she felt a certain annoyance to be the “sister of”. “It’s good when this surname is also carried by a character that is very popular with people. I notice this because of the good predisposition of the public to listen to me. I admit that sometimes I feel obliged to sing Miguel’s songs, but I do it with pleasure because I feel like mine. Also, I hope that one day people will know me for me and for my music”said Maria Jose. The album was not a commercial success and this made him seriously think about his next move. Thus, his second album was not released until five years later.

María José Cantilo- Celeste Flower under the pillow

“I was living in Brazil and there I realized the power of sensuality that a singer can have on stage, something that I didn’t count on or that I didn’t want to tell before. This is how I described the importance of the physique, of the sensuality of movement when singing a ballad or a love song. I discovered myself. Some time ago, when personal problems overwhelmed me, I considered leaving the profession. But fortunately I discovered that for me singing is as vital as air and water.. I put aside everything that was causing me problems in life and I decided to devote myself fully to music”, he said in August 1989 in a report to the magazine Pelo, about his umpteenth transformation.

Although it crystallized him in the live performances of the album In tapewent much further when she posed nude on the cover of Playboy one year after these declarations. “We undress a Rock Star”, said the cover title on a photo in which she is seen in a fringed denim jacket and mini white shorts. “Before, I used to go on stage to sing protest songs in jeans and sneakers, something very asexual. Well, discovering my ability to seduce with music was like a revolution, something magical that I’m still learning to do.said Maria Jose.

María José Cantilo was the cover of Playboy Argentina in May 1990

María José Cantilo was the cover of Playboy Argentina in May 1990

However, two years later, the most difficult moment of her life will come, when she will be incarcerated in Ezeiza prison for drug possession and trafficking. “In prison, I learned a lot. But I took it into my own hands. I took it, I worked on it and I overcame it. I have no intention of burying this stage of my life so that no one sees it. And the proof is that I carried the stigma on my shoulder, I walked with it and I always showed my face. But after so much darkness, I dedicated myself to assimilating the light,” he recounted. page 12 in June 2000. “You can’t walk fencing for life. At one point I worked with very low energy people. I risked too much. The stick came to me and I had a hard time digesting it. I broached a subject that bordered on illegality. You never mean to do wrong, but sometimes bardeajust oblivious,” he said in that same interview.

After regaining his freedom, in mid-1994 he returned to music and embraced spirituality through yoga. Drop by drop (year one thousand nine hundred and ninety-five), Sairam (1999), Covers-Bossanova and Jazz (2000), feel healthy (2004), bolero moments (2005) and Here and now (2006) are the albums he publishes independently and with which he resumes his artistic path. He also wrote a book in which he recounted his days behind bars, to which he gave a resounding and synthetic title: from prison.

From prison, the book that María José Cantilo edited after being behind bars in Ezeiza prison

From prison, the book that María José Cantilo edited after being behind bars in Ezeiza prison

“My old lady went to jail because she was famous, for a very made-up, high-profile cause. (Bernard) Neustadt she did two whole shows talking like it was the biggest deal, but the only thing that mattered about her was that she was famous. She ate three years in prison for 200 grams of joint, which is ridiculous. And they basically ruined my life for sure. I was completely poisoned and went from being a very happy, guitar-playing, middle-class kid to being a marginal person. Was 14 years old. Marginalization is like that, we never choose it. Society marginalizes you,” his son said. Gaspar Benegas -currently, commander of your project The monkey and guitarist of Indio Solari and the Air Conditioning Fundamentalists– about that time when his father and older sister were also imprisoned, forcing him to live alone with his other brothers, aged 16 and 12.

“We had changing legal guardians and it was a difficult time, which was actually crowned by the fact that my father was killed while my mother was in prison. (…) The cause of my mother and father was for selling drugs and the truth is: my father was a drug dealer. And they shot him, which would be the “natural causes” of this profession. It’s street justice”, added the musician in dialogue with Jules Leiva for the tour Black Boxin April 2021.

Gaspar was the artistic producer of María José’s last album -which he affectionately called Mariacho-. The album in question is called Essence. I made a record with a feminine sensibility which is not always the most recommended commercially. (…) I haven’t had much media coverage with my independent albums, but this time and Instead of trying to please the market, I wanted to do something that fully represents me.said Cantilo herself in a dialogue with Télam in September 2012.

Maria Jose Cantilo (Photo: Facebook)

Maria Jose Cantilo (Photo: Facebook)

Gradually, his health deteriorated and it was Gaspar who publicly reported it on his Instagram account. Two weeks ago, and during a tour in Europe, he warned: “Let us send him our love, our gratitude and give him the strength so that he can recover from his delicate state of health. mom is fineBenegas wished. A few days later, however, he had to announce the suspension of a show in the Italian city of Rome “for personal reasons related to my mother’s health”.

The outcome took place Monday at noon and Gaspar himself took care of leaving a final dedication: “I always told you Mariacho. Today I say thank you mom!”he writes painfully on an old photo of his mother, singing and playing the guitar.

My career has always revolved around creativity, on the one hand with music and on the other hand with children. Everything happens for a reason, everything has a why and why. I don’t like to complain about what happened, because that’s what led me to be who I am», declared María José in one of her last interviews, in January 2015 with Radio ArinfoPlay. From today it is part of the air and its legacy will remain forever in the history of Argentine popular music.

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