Isabel Vargas Lizano, better known as Chavela Vargas, died on August 5th in Mexico at 93 years old. Born on April 17, 1919 in Costa Rica, Chavela moved to Mexico in her teens where she sang on the city streets.
Accepted by the Mexican community, Chavela’s professional career in the 1930s was a major success. Dressed as a man, the tough, gun-toting, cigar smoking, hard drinking Chavela rose in popularity during the 1950s-1960s into the early 70s.
She was best known for her heartfelt Mexican rancheras, but contributed to many other musical genres as well. At the request of a friend, Chavela returned to the stage in 1991 after retiring in the late 1970s. She debuted at Carnegie Hall in 2003 at the age of 83.
Unfortunately, I was unable to travel to San Antonio for this tribute concert below, hosted by the Esperanza Peace and Justice Center on Saturday, September 15th. I am sure that featured musical artist Azul did a fabulous job as she recounted stories, based on Chavela’s biography, about the people and places that Chavela loved and in return, adored her.
For more information on this or other events, especially Azul’s performances, call the center at 210.228.0201 or visit the website www.esperanzacenter.org