Remembering Legendary Singer Chavela Vargas

The World

Chavela Vargas. (Photo Gala Narezo)

A mariachi band played a somber set Monday morning out front of the hospital in Cuernavaca, Mexico where Chavela Vargas passed away last night. The beloved singer was 93. Vargas based her artistic and public profile around her unique reinterpretations of traditional Mexican "rancheras," songs traditionally sung by men about love and their power. The diminutive woman would appear on stage in pants and often sang in a rough, husky baritone while smoking a cigar and swigging from a bottle of tequila - a transgressive statement in the conservative era of the 50s Mexico when she began. In the late 1960s, in a battle with alcohol addiction, Vargas disappeared from public performance. She reappeared in a small club in Mexico City in the early 90s and her career was renewed after the Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodóvar championed her life and music in his films. In the last 10 years of her life, Vargas was busy. She debuted at Carnegie Hall at the age of 83 in 2003.
Will you help our nonprofit newsroom today?

Every week, more than 2 million listeners tune into our broadcast and follow our digital coverage like this story, which is available to read for free thanks to charitable contributions from listeners like you. But less than 1% of our audience supports our program directly. From now through the end of the year, every gift will be matched dollar for dollar by a generous donor, which means your gift will help us unlock a $67,000 challenge match.

Will you join our growing list of loyal supporters and double your impact today?