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Mexican singer Chavela Vargas dies at 93

posted 6 Aug 2012, 13:14 by Sam Mbale   [ updated 6 Aug 2012, 13:14 ]

Mexican ranchera Chavela Vargas dies in Cuernavaca, Mexico at the age of 93.

MEXICO CITY, MEXICO  (REUTERS) - Iconic Mexican singer Chavela Vargas, who died on Sunday (August 05) at the age of 93, was a charismatic performer with a voice that critics hailed as tailor-made for singing Mexico's traditional rancheras, boleros and corridos.

Vargas died at a hospital in the Mexican city of Cuernavaca after spending several days suffering from pulmonary, kidney and cardiac failures. Her death was confirmed on her official Twitter account.

The singer had just recently returned from a trip lasting almost a month to Spain to give a recital of songs of her album "La Luna Grande", during which she was hospitalized between July 12 and July 21.

Originally born in Costa Rica, Vargas moved to Mexico in her teens to pursue a musical career but it was not until her 30s that she became a professional singer.

Dressing as a man, smoking cigars and carrying pistols in her early shows during Mexico City's artistic explosion of the mid-twentieth century, Vargas quickly attracted a loyal fan following and celebrity status fuelled by rumours of liaisons with high-profile women such as Frida Kahlo.

In 1961, the controversial performer released her first studio album, the first of more than eighty albums to be recorded by the folklore singer.

With an explosive voice that captured the heartbreak, struggles and redemption of classic Mexican songs like "El Ultimo Trago" ("The Last Drink") and "La Llorona" (The Weeping Woman), the humble singer took Mexico's traditional musical styling internationally with shows in New York and Madrid .

Attracting an adoring public that hung off her every word more than 50 years after her first recording, Vargas continued to move audiences in her final years despite her growing ill health.

"All my love, all that has happened, all that has been said and all that has been dreamt. Give me a hand Federico so I can get up to the stage," she said.

Vargas' love affair with the European country had started with legendary poet and dramatic Federico Garcia Lorca.

"In my past in Spain, in the house of Garcia Lorca, days passed, I dreamt together with the poet, when we would go back to talking about what could not be since before birth," she reminisced.

Moving between between Spain and her traditional home in Mexico's picturesque colonial town of Tepoztlan, extended stays in the European country would see the ranchera singer become a muse for Oscar-winning auteur Pedro Almodovar.