The great Mexican singer Chavela Vargas died today at age 93. She was a legend of Mexican music and one of the greatest voices in the world. In addition to being just plain amazing, Vargas was a trailblazer. She was a lesbian (she came out at age 81) and was famous for dressing like a man, smoking cigars, and drinking heavily. All this in a country and in an era that had very definite expectations with regard to gender and sexuality. Again, she died at age 93.
The following is a clip from the movie Frida about the life of the great Mexican painter Frida Kahlo (as played by Selma Hayek). In it, Vargas appears and sings one of her most famous and haunting song “La Llorona” (The Weeping Woman) to Kahlo, who was rumored to be her lover. It is an incredibly affecting scene, all the more so because of Vargas. A warning: the clip is violent.
If you haven’t already go listen to her sing, and buy some of her songs. You won’t regret it.