Carlos Gardel (11 December 1890 – 24 June 1935) was an enormously popular tango singer during the inter-war years. His death in an airplane crash at the height of his career created an image of a tragic hero on both shores of the River Plate. For many music fans, Gardel embodies the soul of the tango, a musical form and dance which evolved in the barrios of Buenos Aires and Montevideo at the end of the 19th century.
Gardel possessed a baritone voice deployed with unerring musicality and dramatic phrasing, creating miniature masterpieces among the hundreds of three-minute tangos which he recorded during his lifetime. Together with his long-term collaborator, lyricist Alfredo Le Pera, Gardel also wrote several classic tangos, notably Mi Buenos Aires querido, Amores de Estudiante, Soledad, Volver, Por una cabeza and El día que me quieras.
Gardel began his career singing in bars and at private parties and in 1911 formed a duet with Francisco Martino, and after with José Razzano (which would last until 1925), singing a wide repertory. Gardel made the music his own by inventing the tango-canción in 1917 with Mi Noche Triste, a Pascual Contursi and Samuel Castriota's theme, which sold 100,000 copies and was a hit throughout Latin America. Gardel went on to tour Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, Brazil, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Colombia and made appearances in Barcelona, Madrid, Paris and New York. He sold 70,000 records in the first three months of a 1928 visit to Paris. As his popularity grew, he made a number of films for Paramount in France and the U.S., which were essentially vehicles for his singing and matinée-idol looks.