Chavela Vargas Has Died // Chavela Vargas Se Ha Muerto

Mexican singer (by way of Costa Rica) Chavela Vargas died on Sunday at the age of 93. Chavela’s distinctively soulful voice–infinitely rich with such a wonderful rasp–is unparalleled in the Spanish-speaking world and was no doubt informed by her lifestyle. Vargas was famously androgynous, carried on lesbian love affairs (perhaps even with friend, the artist, Frida Kahlo), and sang ranchera songs as they were meant to be sung–refusing to change the pronouns in these songs to satisfy her audience’s heteronormative sensibilities. She became one of those rare icons beloved by both popular culture and counterculture. She will be missed, but her voice will live on.

If you’re up for a good cry,  be sure to listen to her rendition of “Paloma Negra” (below):

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La cantante mexicana (a través de Costa Rica) Chavela Vargas murió el domingo a 93 años de edad. La voz distintivamente soulful de Chavela–infinitamente rica con un tono áspero–no tiene parangón en el mundo hispanohablante y sin duda fue informada por su vida. Vargas era notablemente andrógina, continuaba amores lésbicos (tal vez incluso con su amigo, la artista, Frida Kahlo), y cantaba canciones rancheras tal y como estaban destinadas a ser cantadas– ella negaba a cambiar los pronombres en estas canciones para cumplir con los gustos heteronormativos de su audiencia. Vargas se convirtió en uno de esos iconos raros queridos tanto por la cultural popular que por la contracultura. Se le extrañará pero su voz seguirá.

Si tienes ganas de un buen llanto, asegúrate de escuchar su versión de “Paloma Negra”:

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