Chavela Vargas, 93, dies in Mexico

From my column in The Washington Times Communities

WASHINGTON, AUGUST 7, 2012 – Chavela Vargas, at the age of 93, transcended this life, as befits a person regarded by many as a Shaman.

Vargas was widely known for her songs.  A plaintive, scratchy voice comes through the speakers and seems to cling to the air as Chavela belts out an old ranchera, “Noches de bodas.”

You can hear the passion in her nostalgic, lamenting voice. She sounds sad and her voice strains as she hits a high note.

I like the older Chavela, where you can hear the weight of years, tequila, cigars, and experience in her voice. Accompanied by a lone guitar, her rough voice is absolutely beautiful.

Chavela Vargas was born Isabel Vargas Lizano in Costa Rica (1919-2012), but the popular singer is closely identified with Mexico and Mexican music. She was unlike anyone else, a rebel and a pioneer: a woman in a genre almost exclusively dominated by men; had famous friends like Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, Federico García Lorca, Agustín Lara, and Juan Rulfo; dressed like a man and drank tequila from the bottle on stage; and after coming out of the closet at age 81, was unpopular with the Mexican Catholic Church.

Read more: Chavela Vargas, 93, dies in Mexico | Washington Times Communities
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