Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Fierce, poetic and brave

I remember vividly the first time I heard Chavela Vargas' gravelly voice. My partner and I at that time (mid-1970s) were newly un-closeted lesbians, still groping to live into our novel and semi-outlaw identity. My partner, in addition, was struggling to take in what it meant that she had a Mexican father, though she had been raised by white-bread, suburban Californian parents.

One day we heard a recording of this amazing, emotional singer. And we knew, immediately and instinctively. "She's a dyke!" Somehow this insight meant a lot.

When Vargas died this week at age 93, her obituary confirmed our instinct.

At 81, she announced that she was a lesbian.

“Nobody taught me to be like this,” she told the Spanish newspaper El País in 2000. “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.”

On the eve of her Carnegie Hall debut in 2003, she looked back on how her singing had changed over her career. “The years take you to a different feeling than when you were 30,” she said in an interview with The Times. “I feel differently, I interpret differently, more toward the mystical.” ...No immediate family members survive.

Enjoy and wonder.

No comments:

Related Posts with Thumbnails