Ten years have passed since the voice of Chavela Vargas, one of the most influential Latin American artists of the 20th century, was extinguished. The Mexican singer lived breaking rules and marking other artists in the genre he explored the most: the ranchera. Today his legacy continues thanks to his friends and musicians from the group Los Macorinos.
María Isabel Anita Carmen de Jesús Vargas was born in San Joaquín, Costa Rica, on April 17, 1919, but became known worldwide as a Mexican (her adopted country from the age of 17) and with the name of Chavela Vargas. we are born where we want,” he said, true to his provocative style.
Chavela Vargas. At the age of 17, she left her native Costa Rica to settle in Mexico, a country that she considered her own until her death.
Despite her harsh childhood in the countryside, with emotional deficiencies and in which she suffered from polio, Chavela lived to be 93 years old and died in Cuernavaca, Mexico, on August 5, 2012. In addition to being an artist with a very unique identity, was a woman who broke stereotypes and he faced prejudice without caring about the opinion of others.
Chavela liked to dress in men’s clothes, up and down the stage, she smoked and drank in public with total self-confidence, at a time when that was not well seen for a woman. I used to carry a gun too Along with his usual red serape (a kind of poncho) that was like another of his trademarks.
His sentimental and sexual life was surrounded by scandals and rumors but it was almost at the end of his life, when in an interview, At the age of 81, she publicly declared her lesbianism.
Installed from a very young age in Mexico, before living from music, she worked as a waitress, a clothing seller and a cook. Later, someone recommended her to participate in a radio program and she also started singing in bars. Just at the age of 30, thanks to the patronage of the musician José Alfredo Jiménez, Chavela became known.
Frida Kahlo’s friend
Chavela Vargas, during a tribute in Mexico City. The singer was one of the greatest exponents of the ranchera. Photo: EFE
But then, in addition to her voice, many noticed her ways that they considered unfeminine and called her a “tomboy.” The singer was criticized as much as she was admired and in her inner circle she frequented people as famous as her, such as the painter Frida Kahlo, the muralist Diego Rivera, the Hollywood star Ava Gardner and the poet Pablo Neruda, among others.
Staying for a time in the house of the painters Kahlo and Rivera, Chavela recounted that between her and Frida there was an immediate mutual attraction and that they lived a brief but intense romance.
Her overwhelming personality led her to make explosive statements related to any topic. Their Alcohol addiction kept her out of her career for quite some time; however, she had no problem saying publicly that she had drunk “all the tequila in Mexico.”
But it was that forceful personality that also caught on stage and in his performances. Dozens of rancheras and boleros bear his unique mark, such as The simple things, Rare world, Macorina, In the last drink, Think of me, Moonlight; Return Return either the crybabybetween many more.
Chavela Vargas An intense and controversial life, breaking the mold.,Photo: AFP
Oblivion and relaunch
After many years of great success, her serious problem with alcohol caused her to lose almost everything and kept her away for many years, almost forgotten by new generations. Until in the 1990s, the Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodóvar, included several of his songs in his films and somehow, collaborated in the relaunch of his career.
Chavela’s unmistakable voice appeared in several films such as high heelsby Almodovar; stone cryby Werner Herzog; frida, by Julie Taymor, and in Babel, by Alejandro González Iñárritu, which made it resurface artistically and made it known to new generations. Her harsh voice, like crying, resounded throughout the world.
Recovered from her addiction, she spent her last decade in good health, even going so far as to skydive when she was in her 80s. At that time, she also became friends with the Nobel Prize winner Gabriel García Márquez and with the musician Joaquín Sabina, who considered her her muse.
The Macorinos group
“She had a very fine humor, a respectful humor, she was never going to be with nonsense, it was not necessary, we could have fun at a great level,” says Juan Carlos Allende, of the Los Macorinos group, in an interview with the Efe agency. “Chavela had a very strong personality,” adds who was close to her in the last decade of her life,
Chavela Vargas After years away from music, in her last decade of life, she sang again and was recognized by new generations. AP Photo
“Each word that Chavela articulated had a lot of weight and a lot of emphasis and it was due to the diction. There are very few singers in the world who have that ability to express themselves musically with clarity and outstanding emotional weight,” adds Allende.
The Macorinos were close to Chavela when she was in Spain and she got sick. According to Allende, the singer was afraid of not reaching her country in her last days, since she wanted to die in Mexico. But, true to her style, managed to get on a plane and died four days after arriving on Mexican soil.
“We went to a hospital in Cuernavaca to visit her, she asked to see us, we didn’t want to bother her, but she wanted to see us. Five minutes after saying goodbye they called us to tell us that Mrs. Chavela Vargas had died,” recalls Allende.
“It’s hard to say that she died on us, the legacy that Chavelita leaves behind, her passage through this planet, was not only physical. Her inspiration, her interpretation through music provided us with very pleasant moments and it is the legacy that she left,” he says. .
The Macorinos are part of the tribute Chavela and her womenwhich will take place on September 29 and 30 in Mexico City, and which will also include artists such as Ely Guerra, Ximena Sariñana, La Marisoul, Eugenia León and Ofelia Medina, in memory of the singer.
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Reference from clarin www.clarin.com