James Cason, Ambassador, Paraguay Singing Sensation
James Cason, the U.S. Ambassador to Paraguay, has achieved rock star status in that country. Literally.
[H]e learned the obscure Paraguayan GuaranÃ language, recorded a music album of indigenous folk songs and sold 1,000 tickets to a concert in a downtown theater. Now, in the final year of his four-decade diplomatic career, Cason has suddenly become the toast of Paraguay, or at least the country’s most unusual pop star.
”He’s been on TV and in all the newspapers,” said Nelson Viveros, 16, who traveled to meet the ambassador recently in EncarnaciÃ³n, by the Argentina border. “It’s strange, but people love it.”
Reviews have been mixed:
In a review of the CD release show in the Ultima Hora newspaper, a critic noted that Cason ”sat on a stool with the lyrics in front of him” during the entire performance, appearing ”nervous or unsure about the tune and pronunciation of GuaranÃ.” The newspaper La NaciÃ³n was more direct: The ambassador, it said, “sang in the monotone of a tired bird.”
Following the show in Itá, Cason said, fan mail poured into the embassy — as did invitations to festivals and for a (nonsinging) cameo as a cardinal in the opera Tosca. The songs he had performed in Itá went into heavy rotation on local radio stations.
Judge for yourself. Here’s a video of Cason’s musical stylings: