Vargas, Chavela (1919–)

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Vargas, Chavela (1919–)

Mexican singer. Born Isabel Vargas Lizano, April 19, 1919, in Santa Bárbara de Heredia, Costa Rica; dau. of Francisco Vargas and Herminia Lizano.

Grand Dame of Mexican Music, ran away at 14 after family moved to Mexico; took up with Mexican intellectuals such as Diego Rivera, Juan Rulfo, and Agustín Lara; had love affair with Frida Kahlo, living with Kahlo and Diego Rivera for several years; started performance career relatively late in life (mid-30s), singing with José Alfredo Jiménez (1950s); recorded 1st album (1961); became internationally famous for interpretations of sentimental Mexican ranchera music, touring worldwide; battled alcoholism (1970s), periodically attempting to make comebacks, including stellar performances in Olympia Theater of Paris, Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico, and Palau de la Mú sica in Barcelona (1981); retired again (1980s), unable to conquer addiction; was tracked down by Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodóvar (1990s) who helped her rebuild career; produced music for soundtrack for Almodóvar's Tacones Lejanos and appeared in cameos in his other films, as well as in Julie Taymor's Frida (2000); gave triumphant concert before 20,000 in Mexico City's main plaza, Zócalo (1999); awarded Spain's Great Cross of Isabel la Católica (2000); made Carnegie Hall debut at 83 (2003). Signature songs include "La Llorona" (The Crybaby), "Somos" (We Are), "Luz de luna" (The Light of the Moon), "Canción de las simples cosas" (Song of the Simple Things), "Macorina," "Piensa en mí" (Think of Me), "Se me hizo fácil" (It Was Easy for Me), "Volver volver" (Return, Return), "Angelitos negros" (Little Black Angels), "Amanecíen tus brazos" (I Woke Up in Your Arms), "Vámonos" (Let's Go), "Un mundo raro" (A Strange World), and "El último trago" (The Last Drink); albums include Chavela Vargas Le Canta a México (1995), Colección de Oro (2002) and En Carnegie Hall (2004).

See also Chavela Vargas, Y si quieres saber de mi pasado (And If You Want to Know of My Past, 2002).