The soulful alto of Argentinean singer Mercedes Sosa is internationally recognized and has been immensely influential in Latin America. Since the 1960s, she has interpreted songs with poignant lyrics that condemn war, contemplate love, and describe poverty. Her songs generally employ sparse instrumentation and focus on guitar with drums, bass and piano accompaniment. She was exiled from Argentina in 1978 when she and numerous concert-goers were arrested following a performance of hers; she returned five years later to a heroine's welcome. Most of her recordings stand the test of time, but she has ventured into rock and religious musical arenas to mixed reviews. Sosa's dedication to the disenfranchised and the poor underscores all her creative efforts and makes her an icon of the international Left. Her version of Violeta Parra's emotional "Gracias a la Vida" is perhaps the defining performance of her career.