Berta Rojas, the “proudly Latin American” guitarist

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By Ruth E. Hernández Beltrán |

New York (EFE).- “Aguyje” or thank you in the Guarani language. It was the first word that classical guitarist Berta Rojas, proud of her origins, uttered when she received the Latin Grammy two weeks ago for her album “Legado”.

It is the language he learned from his grandmother, which is the official language of Paraguay along with Spanish, and which millions of people heard during the broadcast of the event.

It is the same Berta Rojas who, as a child, was teased for speaking Guarani, and who last week gave the first Grammy in Paraguay, to whom she dedicated this award.

“Before, in Paraguay, girls who spoke Guaraní were called ‘guarandas’ as a pejorative way of designating those of us who preserved the language. In my case, it was a way of communicating with my grandmother, who spoke Spanish but above all Guarani”, he recalls in an interview with EFE.

Paraguayan Berta Rojas attends the Latin Grammys in Las Vegas, Nevada (USA). EFE/EPA/Caroline Brehman

“Despite the fact that I lived in the United States for many years, it is a way of consolidating my Paraguayan identity and remembering where I come from,” says Rojas.

Berta Rojas attended the event in Las Vegas on Nov. 17 wearing an emerald green dress and Paraguayan designer jewelry.

Awards for Berta Rojas

Rojas, in 2021, received the Golden Guitar award in honor of his career, the highest honor granted by the International Guitar Convention.

He won the Grammys in the categories “Best Classical Music Album” for his album Legado, and “Best Classical Contemporary Work/Composition”, for “Anido’s Portrait: Chacarera”, composed by Sergio Assa.

In Legacy, in which Rojas rescues the figures of Frenchwoman Ida Presti (1924-1967) and Argentinean María Luisa Anido (1907-1996), she performs songs by these classical guitar pioneers who lived in a time when they were not well considered this profession for women but they were still successful in a world reserved for men, as well as other songs composed in their honor.

Photo courtesy of Guillermo Fridman showing Paraguayan classical guitarist Berta Rojas. EFE/Guillermo Fridman

This vision has not yet disappeared, and she says that it was not easy for her to break into the world of music with her guitar because “it was not yet a well-regarded profession in Paraguay”.

He had to somehow break with the structures that reigned at that time, difficulties which, he assures, “make us stronger and allow us to open the way and affirm ourselves in our vocation”.

His guitar “La rojita”

Rojas remembers that this album was the last he recorded before his guitar, “La rojita”, as he calls it, was stolen in Cleveland, only to miraculously reappear, delivered by someone who bought from thieves.

Rojas says La rojita gave her luck at the Grammys, and so “she won’t be replaced until (she) can’t anymore.”

This album and its awards, according to Rojas, currently a professor at Berklee College of Music in Massachusetts, bring to the conversation – it was her intention when she recorded it – all guitar pioneers.

“It is a cause that many colleagues, women and men, have embraced in the guitar world and in a way this recognition gives much more strength to this work, which I hope continues to win. in force and radiates towards other areas of music”, manifesto.

Latin American music stands out in Rojas’ discography because, according to the artist:

“Latin America is the reserve that activates the world, it is a music that has so much to offer in its rhythm and in the honesty of its lines a direct contact with its people”, he underlines.

“I’m proud to be a Latin American guitarist,” says Rojas.

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