El Carrao de Palmarito
Juan de los Santos Contreras, better known like El Carrao de Palmarito and Clarín de la llanura, was a Venezuelan composer, singer and interpreter of joropo, son of Juan de Mata Laguna and Carmen Cecilia Contreras, was born in Palmarito, Apure state, April 7, 1928. Passed his childhood working in a farm near of hometown, started to sing from very young, reason why frequently was guest at the celebration and parties of Palmarito. In 1955 started to live at the city of Barinas. His first performance as singer, was in the radio station Radio Barinas, at the program Fiesta Criolla, where he acquires the pseudonym El Carrao de Palmarito, proposed by Luis Eduardo Camejo, a presenter of the station.Read More
At this city obtained contract as singer in the Llano Alto hotel, acting during nine months, after this he travels to Caracas, appearing at the stations Radio Rumbos and Radiodifusora Venezuela, the presenter Alfredo Acuña Zapata add the nickname Clarín de la Llanura to Contreras. One successfully at the media, make tours around Venezuela, for the projection of his career. Represented Venezuela in several international events, participating at the film Más Allá Del Orinoco (Beyond the Orinoco), next to the Mexican artist Javier Solís. Also at the Venezuelan production, Agua y Sangre, next to the actor Carlos Olivier.
In 1976 the governments of the states Apure and Portuguesa, made a tribute to him, revealing a bust of the artist at the town of Palmarito. Also in that year, records with José Romero Bello, and the group of Joseíto Romero, La Leyenda de Florentino y El Diablo (The legend of Florentino and the Devil) based on the poem of Alberto Arvelo Torrealba, with this interpretation Juan de los Santos Contreras consacrates like artist.
El Carrao de Palmarito, participated at many Joropo Festivals, some of them, The first International Match of Joropo, celebrated in Arauca, Colombia, obtaing two gold medals and 15000 pesos, Second Festival of Joropo, San Fernando de Apure, winner of the Cantaclaro de Oro First Contest, also obtain three first places at the Festivals of Villavicencio, Colombia, second place at the Maracaya de Oro, in Maracay, and a Honorary degree at the Florentino de Oro, for his musical career.
In 1998, directed by John Petrizzelli and Mercedes Ramírez, was presentated a documentary film about his life, with the title of Carrao, exploring the daily life, the beliefs, customs and memories as well as the artistic trajectory and biography of the singer. This film was awarded by the Cinemateca Nacional de Venezuela.
Contreras was condecorated in many occasions, for his contribution to the Venezuelan folk music, received recognitions from institutions like, Kids Foundation of Venezuela, Central University of Venezuela, Chacao Municipality, Aragua state Government, a tribute by the embassy of Venezuela in Jamaica, and the National Prize of Music in 1998.
Between his best known songs, they emphasize, Florentino y el Diablo, Aquella mujer que amé, Furia, Chaparralito llanero, Cajón del Arauca apureño, Llanura yo soy tu hijo, Plegaria llanera, Travesía de San Camilo, Faenas del llano, Dulce María, Mis retoños, El morrocoy de doña Carmen, Caminito de Arichuna, Recorriendo a Barinas, Los martirios del Carrao, El sueño de Julio Verne, Villavicencio, among others.
On December 10, 2002, at the age of 74, this legend of the Venezuelan folklore dies in Barinas.