; 17 April 1919 – 5 August 2012), better known as Chavela Vargas, was a Costa Rican-born Mexican singer.She was especially known for her rendition of Mexican rancheras, but she is also recognized for her contribution to other genres of popular Latin American music.
She was baptized on 15 July 1919 with the forenames "María Isabel Anita Carmen de Jesús." She had a difficult childhood: her parents divorced and left her under the care of an uncle, and she contracted poliomyelitis.
She went by Chavela, which is a pet name for Isabel.
At age 14, she abandoned her native country due to lack of opportunities for a musical career, seeking refuge in Mexico, where an entertainment industry was burgeoning.
There she resided for almost eight decades and obtained Mexican nationality.
In her youth, she dressed as a man, smoked cigars, drank heavily, carried a gun, and was known for her characteristic red jorongo, which she donned in performances until old.
Vargas sang the canción ranchera, which she performed in her own peculiar style.The typical ranchera, as represented by José Alfredo Jiménez, was a masculine but emotional song about love and its mishaps, usually mediated by alcohol, since in a macho culture, the display of feelings by men is allowed only to the drunk.The ranchera is sung from a man's perspective and with a mariachi accompaniment.Chavela sang this type of song as a solo, using only guitar and voice, evoking the singing style of a drunk man.She often slowed down the tempo of melodies to draw more dramatic tension out of songs, so they could be taken as naughtily humorous.Towards the end of the 1950s, she became known within artistic circles, due in part to her performances in Acapulco, center of international tourism, where she sang at the Champagne Room of the restaurant La Perla.