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Chile’s singer for all times

Fernando Ubiergo, the Chilean singer currently touring Australia, and Edmund Barton – the first Australian Labor Prime Minister – share the same birthplace. Both were born in the picturesque Chilean port of Valparaiso.

Touring Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, this is Fernando Ubiergo’s first trip to Australia.

“I’m curious and my eyes are enjoying the cultural diversity of this country,” he said.

Sitting in a café in Glebe, Ubiergo said he was also enjoying a rest after a gruelling schedule that has seen him flying from the remote southern Chilean city of Punta Arenas to “down under.”

Over a 30-year career the Chilean musician has become one of the most recognised voices in Latin America. The poetry of his lyrics can be likened to the music of Aussie Paul Kelly and American James Taylor and his style has been described as “urban” or “people’s songs”. In his lyrics Ubiergo explores complex issues, from teenage pregnancy to political repression. “My songs are composed from the perspectives of a citizen or from the perspective of a father,” he said.

The Chilean troubadour, whose career in sociology was abruptly cut short after the 1973 military coup d’état that marked the beginning of 19 years of military dictatorship, has produced some of the most celebrated and recognised songs in the Spanish speaking world.

It was during the brutal dictatorship that “Un café para Platón” (A coffee for Plato) was released. A 1977 classic, the ballad tells the story of university students who disappeared during the military dictatorship. “One day of October he didn’t come to class, he had left university, as an unfinished cigar his career was left,” the song says. It became a hymn for the missing people in his native country

Ubiergo stopped singing for six years during the Chilean post-dictatorship transition to democracy and returned at the end of that decade with his acclaimed album Los Ojos del Mar (The Eyes of the Sea).

Fernando Ubiergo will perform at Hot Lips (as part of Café Sur Latin American music sessions), 200 Enmore Road, Enmore at 8pm on December 19. For information call Maria Eugenia 0415558181.

– By Antonio Castillo