Los Indios Tabajaras: More or less like a piano

By Miche Archetto:

Mussapere and Herundy were respectively the 3rd and 4th son of one of the chiefs of the Tabajara indios tribe, in the northeast of Brasil. At the end of the 30′s they found in the forest a classical guitar left by some expedition. After a while they realized that it was a musical instrument and started playing it without any formal training. They decided to venture in Rio de Janeiro where they  aroused the sympathy of the audience by performing traditional tribal songs, until they were contacted by a contractor for a tour of six years in South America. They settled in Mexico , took the name of individual Antenor and Natalicio Cardoza Lima , and called their duo Los Indios Tabajaras . They took professional guitar lessons: Antenor specialized in the accompaniment and Natalicio in the melody. They studied Brazilian popular repertoire and classical music, tackling Bach , Beethoven , Chopin, Rimsky-Korsakov, de Falla and Albéniz.


Here is for example their rendition of Frédéric Chopin’s Fantaisie-Impromptu in C-sharp minor, Op. posth. 66.


On wikipedia I’ve found also that


Probably as early as 1943, RCA’s Latin American arm signed them to a recording contract. In the early 1950s, they took a break from performing and went back to study the guitar. After returning to the stage later that same decade, they released an album in the United States on an RCA-owned label named Vox.


Throughout this period, they had a steady stream of releases on RCA in Mexico and one of these, a Mexican folk tune named “María Elena” (Lorenzo Barcelata; named after the wife of a Mexican president and recorded in 1958), became a steady seller, a success throughout Latin America and was finally released on a single in the U.S. in 1963. It spent 14 weeks on the Hot 100 in the fall of 1963, four of which were in the top 10 in November 1963, and had similar success in the United Kingdom. It sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc.


Los Indios Tabajaras continued touring throughout the Americas and Europe, and in 1964 they had two another releases, “Always in My Heart” and “Marta.” Although “Always in My Heart” made the Billboard Hot 100, neither of these were nearly as successful as “Maria Elena.”


Their fluent guitar playing caught the ear of American guitarist Chet Atkins and, along with pianist Floyd Cramer, they recorded an instrumental album in Nashville, Tennessee. They also recorded and released material with singer Don Gibson, including the song “Oh Lonesome Me”.


RCA released albums by Los Indios Tabajaras into the 1980s. Though Antenor retired from performing, Natalicio Lima continued to perform into the 1990s with his wife, Michiko. He died in November 2009.


More detailed information can be found in the wikipedia entry in Spanish language.


Their success ”María Elena” can be heard in this youtube video.