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Chavela Vargas - A Life in Quotes

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Photo Courtesy Sofia Moro / Getty Images

Chavela Vargas

Photo Courtesy Sofia Moro / Getty Images

The life of the iconic Mexican singer Chavela Vargas was full of the same intensity she brought to Ranchera music. The following quotes include a selection of memorable thoughts regarding one of the most fascinating lives in Latin music. They include sentences from the legendary artist as well as some of her closest friends.

Personal Quotes

  • "They never loved me and when they divorced, I stayed with my uncles - may they burn in hell!" Chavela Vargas talking about her parents.
  • "In my family, no one sang. I, on the other hand, wished to be a singer and when I went to the countryside, I'd walk and walk and sing and sing. 'You're going to sing when you're older,' I'd tell myself. 'I'm going to sing like the Mexicans.'" A quote from her autobiography Y Si Quieres Saber De Mi Pasado.
  • "I was never afraid of anything because I never hurt anyone. I was always an old drunk" At a tribute concert in Mexico back in June 2011.
  • "The alcohol is one of the most evil things in the world. So is the cigarette, and I let all of that go from my life for my art." A reference to the consequences of her heavy drinking and smoking.
  • "What hurt was not being homosexual, but what they throw it in my face as if it were the plague." A note written on her autobiography regarding her homosexuality.
  • "I was born this way. Since I opened my eyes to the world, I have never slept with a man. Never. Just imagine what purity. I have nothing to be ashamed of." Talking about the fact of being lesbian.
  • "Frida Kahlo taught me a lot without ever bragging about anything." A reference to her friendship with the famous Mexican painter.

Quotes by Friends and Acquaintances

  • "The rough voice of tenderness." Spanish director Pedro Almodovar describing Chavela Vargas' voice.
  • "[She] knew how to express the desolation of the rancheras with the radical nakedness of the Blues." Mexican essayist Carlos Monsivais describing Chavela Vargas' singing style.
  • "She took ranchero music and made the music her own. She stripped the music from the trumpet and other arrangements. The combination between the guitars and her song just elevated the music to a whole other level." Carlos Gutierrez from the nonprofit Cinema Tropical talking about Chavela Vargas' influence on Ranchera music.
  • "She gave us a new freedom to reinvent yourself in that genre." Mexican singer Lila Downs who recorded alongside Chavela Vargas.
  • "I don't think there is a stage big enough in this world for Chavela." Pedro Almodovar.
  • "Loneliness is the best and most liberating of companions." Spanish singer Concha Buika talking about what she learned from Chavela Vargas during the making of El Ultimo Trago, a tribute album to the legendary singer.
  • "[Chavela Vargas] did not sell a voice but rather a style." Spanish singer and songwriter Joaquin Sabina.
  • "Joaquin, that tequila is really bad. Jose Alfredo Jimenez and I already drank all the good one. " A quote by Chavela Vargas as recalled by Joaquin Sabina.
  • "Chavela Vargas made of abandonment and desolation a cathedral in which we all found a place." Pedro Almodovar.
  • "She had to have a natural death." Her doctor, Jose Manuel Nunez, talking about the singer's refusal to accept breathing tubes or additional measures aimed at keeping her alive.

Reference Sources

  • Mexican singer Chavela Vargas dies aged 93, BBC.
  • Chavela Vargas dies at 93; preeminent ranchera songstress, Richard Fausset, Los Angeles Times.
  • Chavela Vargas, Famed Mexican Singer, Dies at 93, Time.
  • 'Quién pudiera reír como llora ella', Joaquín Sabina, Terra.
  • Chavela Vargas, Legendary Ranchera Singer, Dies, Jasmine Garsd, NPR.
  • Chavela Vargas: The Voice Of Triumph, Felix Contreras, NPR.
  • Chavela Vargas: 'Frida Kahlo me enseñó mucho sin presumir nunca de nada', El Mundo.
  • Chavela Vargas, 93, Ranchera Performer, Elisabeth Malkin, New York Times.
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