Photo © Andres Brenner

Video: The Art of Payadores

Preserving Uruguay's gaucho lifestyle through song.

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By Andrés Brenner


21 Sep 2018 - 5 Minute Read


Making this video was very special, because I’d heard about this tradition but had never seen it. It took me to part of Uruguay I’d never visited before. The local payadores were hard to get in touch with, because they are always moving from place to place. I went to three different towns looking for them, traveling by local bus and asking around. Finally, I found a few of the most renowned payadores, and we became good friends.

They usually don’t allow people up on stage, but because I was quiet and didn’t interrupt, they made an exception for me. I asked them questions, and instead of answering, they began singing.

Long ago, payadores traveled around spreading the news through their songs. Now they sing about the traditional lives of the gauchos, and improvise songs about whatever they’re watching. I hope this art will continue – today, not many young people want to do it. One of the payadores, 70-year-old Uberfil Concepción, became very emotional when I spoke to him – he wasn’t expecting to make a new, young friend who was still interested in his art.

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Winner of the World Nomads 2013 Travel Film Scholarship, Andrés is a co-founder of Meanwhile Productions.

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