Simón Díaz (1928- ). Celebrated singer and composer of Venezuelan music, whose work is regarded as one of the most important legacies for both Venezuelan and Latin American popular music. Simón Díaz is known foremost for his recovery of the songs of the Venezuelan plains. He was convinced that these were a unique music and he devoted himself to studying, composing and disseminating them. He succeeded in turning the songs of the Venezuelan plains into an authentic musical genre performed by such great artists as Argentina’s Mercedes Sosa, Brazil’s Caetano Veloso, Spain’s Joan Manuel Serrat, Puerto Rico’s Danny Rivera, and Venezuelans Franco De Vita, Soledad Bravo and José Luis Rodríguez, among others. Also, renowned conductors and composers of academic music have incorporated Simón Díaz’ songs in their orchestral and choral arrangements, thus signaling the universal nature of this musical genre.
Musicians are not the only ones who have felt attracted to Simón Díaz’ songs. Artists from various disciplines have been inspired by his work. For example, German choreographer Pina Bausch included some of Díaz’ songs in her work “Nur Du.” In addition, recognized film director Pedro Almodóvar included in his film soundtrack “La Flor de mi Secreto” Díaz’ song “Tonada de Luna Llena,” performed by Caetano Veloso.
Simón Díaz’ passion for songs and drama led him to theater, motion pictures and TV. In the 1960’s he became one of the biggest comedians in Venezuela and a symbol of the most genuine expressions of folklore and popular culture. He has had the leading role in 3 plays and 5 films; has produced and hosted 12 different high-ranking TV shows, all of them devised to promote Venezuelan music. One of these shows was devoted to teaching popular culture to children. This show was on the air for 10 years, and from this experience, Díaz became known as “Uncle Simón.” For 25 years, he had a daily radio show focussed on folklore and Venezuelan music. He has recorded over 70 records and CD’s and has made innumerable performances throughout his career. In 1998, he celebrated “50 Years of Artistic Life.”Simón Díaz has been granted the most important music awards. He was given the highest recognition conferred by the Venezuelan state –“Liberator’s Order; Great Cord,” becoming the only Venezuelan artist with such a distinction. He was given the honorary doctorate degree by two major Venezuelan universities –Simón Rodríguez University and Zulia’s Rafael Belloso Chacín University.
He has represented his country in France, the United Kingdom, Spain, Poland, Hungary, Iraq, the United States, Mexico, Panama, Puerto Rico, Cuba and Colombia.
Simón Díaz is known worldwide as the author of “Caballo Viejo” (also named “Bamboleo” –swinging.) His compositions have been performed by Plácido Domingo, Ray Conniff, Julio Iglesias, Celia Cruz, Rubén Blades, Gilberto Santarrosa, Gipsy Kings, Ivan Lins, Joyce, Cheo Feliciano, Juan Gabriel, Maria Dolores Pradera, Martirio, Tania Libertad, Ry Cooder.
Besides being an icon in Venezuela, Díaz is also one of the most popular and universal artist in Latin America. In thinking about the history of popular music in Venezuela and in Latin America, Díaz is both unique and an essential reference The prestigous latinamerican TV Channel A&E MUNDO has produced a documentary dedicated to Simón Díaz under its acclaimed “Biography” program which began to air on september 2004