The autobiography of José Luis Guerra is extensive. The Uruguay born singer began his career at the delicate age of thirteen. Today, the seventy-four-year-old man believes that it is ‘the only trade he knows.’ Born on 31st October 1943, Pepe Guerra, as he is more popularly known around the world, is also a composer and guitarist. He has a baritone voice that he uses to for folk music and folklore. Over his career, he has signed with these labels – Sondor and Ayuí / Tacuabé and has been associated with artists like:
- José Carbajal
- Numa Moraes
- Braulio López
- Daniel Viglietti
- Alfredo Zitarrosa
After singing alone for about four to five years, Pepe Guerra joined hands with Braulio López. This was around 1960. The duo, known as the Los Olimareños, gained international acclaim. Over the course of the career, they recorded more than forty phonograms. These recordings were done in:
- Costa Rica
The Los Olimareños were the group who participated in the Uruguayan popular song movement – the first of it. Other singers and musicians who were part of it were José Carbajal, Alfredo Zitarrosa, Numa Moraes and Daniel Viglietti. As part of the duo, Pepe Guerra was able to release a number of single songs that achieved popularity. He also released a few volumes of LPs. The journey of the duo came to an end prematurely in 1973 when the coup d’état happened, and the military regime ruled in the country. Music of many artists was banned during those years; the Los Olimareños was just one of them.
To further his career after this significant obstacle, Pepe Guerra began a solo journey. Four years after the ban, in 1977 he released his first solo album. The album was called Ta llorando. The next year saw a brave move on the part of the folk music singer. His pathway to exile began in 1978 when he decided to reform the renowned Los Olimareños duo. The duo reunited beyond the borders of Uruguay. For the next few years, Pepe Guerra moved and lived in Spain and Mexico. In whichever country he made his base, he continued to perform as a soloist too.
Four years later, he created the Conversando con el tango. A tango and poetry album, it would get reformulated somewhere down in the future in Uruguay and be called De chamuye con el tango. By the year 1984, the military regime in the country was wrapping up, and The Los Olimareños saw a comeback to the region. What could be considered as a celebration, the duo performed at a humongous concert held at the Centenario stadium. The pair said a final goodbye to each other in 1990. The group was dissolved, and each artist finally gave their complete focus on their solo careers.
One of the principal accomplishments of Pepe Guerra came in the next two years. He was awarded the Guitarra Olimareña during the Festival of the Reunion of Treinta y Tres. It was a mark of the excellence he had over guitar playing. In 1994, he attained Gold records with his creation Verde Esperanza. Another Gold disk he made was a double DVD that was a documentary and recital. It was named La canción de nosotros. Every penny earned from the disk was given as a charity to the Treinta y Tres Hospital.
A more detailed breakdown, in chronological order, of the solo career of Pepe Guerra is given below:
- Ta crying – Year 1977
- Talking with the tango – Year 1982
- From chamuyo with tango – Year 1988 (Canto Libre CL 591)
- The voice of Pepe Guerra – Year 1990 ( Orfeo 91085-4)
- Green Hope – Year 1992
- The tango, the milonga – Year 1993( Sondor 6.859-2)
- The one who sows his corn – Year 1995 ( Ayuí / Tacuabé ae149cd)
- Heart of the South- Year 1999 (Ayuí / Tacuabé ae210cd)
- Gardel Posta Posta along with Vera Sienra and Pablo Estramín – Year 2002
- The song of us – Year 2007 (Ayuí / Tacuabé ae323cd)
- 40 years Live – Year 2017