|Born||December 25, 1916
|Died||April 11, 2001 (aged 84)
|Occupation||Singer and actress|
Graciela Naranjo [nah-rahn'-ho] (December 25, 1916 - April 11, 2001) was a Venezuelan singer and actress. A radio, cinema and television pioneer in her homeland, she made her professional debut as a bolero singer in 1931. From the thirties onward her fame as a singer grew, she appeared in films and had her own TV show in an incredibly long career that extended from 1931 through 2000. She is the mother of musician Alberto Naranjo.
Naranjo was born in Maiquetía, Vargas. Orphaned at seven, she was moved to Caracas to be raised by her aunt. She started to sing Christmas music in a church coral group at age nine, then made her professional debut at Broadcasting Caracas when she was only 15. Largely self-taught, she had a warm contralto voice as her innovative behind-the-beat phrasing and emotional intensity that she put into the words she sang, served to turn novelty tunes and light songs into definitive, bolero-based treatments. She often really did live the words she sang, particularly in later years.
From the mid-1930s through the late 1940s, Naranjo shared stages with many prestigious visiting artists from around the world, including Ary Barroso, Carlos Gardel, Tito Guízar, Agustín Lara and Pedro Vargas, to become a notorious celebrity and her audience greatly increased. She also made films in Venezuela next to Amador Bendayán and Alfredo Sadel, among other important artists, appearing in Romance aragüeño (1939), Misión atómica (1947), and A La Habana me voy (1949). She also was backed-up by the famed Orquesta Anacaona in a couple of songs which were recorded in Venezuela in 1943.
With the establishment of television in Venezuela in the early 1950s, Naranjo hosted her own TV show at the now-defunct Televisa from 1954-'55. At this time, she received contract offers from Colombia, Cuba, Mexico and Puerto Rico, but chose to stick around Caracas and raised a family instead of pursuing an international artistic career. She put off potential success until finally becoming a major TV attraction while in her 40s, retiring in 1961 in the Renny Ottolina TV show. After that, she performed on a periodic, but not regular basis, at radio, universities and nostalgia shows until the early 1980s.
Most vocalists fade while in their 60s due to the physical difficulty of their own natural instrument, but Naranjo would find herself again as a singer when she was 77. Encouraged in 1993 by his son Alberto, she started making records and returned to television and concerts, and was still active until a few months before her death, in Caracas, at the age of 84.