"Todos me dicen el negro, llorona, negro pero cariñoso..."/"Everyone calls me the Negro, crybaby, black but loving..."
When I discovered Chavela Vargas' music, as a teenager, I never thought her voice was particularly beautiful, as age and alcoholism had already taken their toll. What she never lost was the almost magical quality to emotionally pour herself into each and every song she performs.
Ranchera music shares with blues and country, the fact that most of the songs are about pain and heartbreak. Frustrated longings, abandonments, pleading affections and repressed desires. All that pain and passion is felt right on the skin with each piece sung by Vargas.
Through photographs, recordings, interviews with Chavela, ex-couples, admirers and collaborators, I know a…