This Sunday, legendary ranchera songstress Chavela Vargas died at 93. The famous Mexican singer Chavela Vargas is also popular for defying gender stereotypes through lifestyle choices that sparked controversies.
Legendary Mexican singer Chavela Vargas did more than just sing for a living. She challenged preconceptions and decided in favor of a lifestyle that put her under scrutiny. Chavela Vargas used to dress in men’s clothes, carry a pistol, drink and smoke just as much as a man. Her lusty ranchera songs reflect the boldness so many of her fans loved.
The preeminent ranchera songstress died this Sunday at age 93. Maria Cortina, her friend and biographer, said Chavela Vargas passed away in a hospital in Cuernavaca, where she was there to get treatment for heart and respiratory problems. Chavela Vargas was admitted following her return from Spain where she was promoting a new album, honoring Federico Garcia Lorca.
Jose Manuel Nunez, the doctor of the legendary Mexican songstress, said Chavela Vargas refused artificial measures to stay alive. She said no to breathing tubes because “she had to have a natural death”. According to her doctor, Chavela Vargas “went with great peace. She never complained. She sought my hand and her shamanic medallion”.
Throughout her impressive career, Mexican singer Chavela Vargas recorded 80 albums. She is easily one of the most popular artists Mexico has ever delivered although for many years her outlaw image brought along scrutiny. “I was never afraid of anything because I never hurt anyone” Chavela Vargas once told her audience. “I was always an old drunk” she added.
“Each of you remembers me as you like, each one say what they feel and what they lived with me” said Chavela Vargas in 2011. “I ask God that wherever I am going someday, you will come to greet me, and I will greet all of you” the singer added at that time. In interviews that year she said she was “at peace with live and could not ask for more”. She even said when death comes, she will “go with pleasure”.
Even after Chavela Vargas’ death, one thing is for sure: Spanish director Pedro Almodovar was right. “I don’t think there is a stage big enough in this world for Chavela” and her rough voice of tenderness, Almodovar once said.