Edna Vázquez is not our father’s mariachi

Edna Vázquez is a Mexican mariachi singer-songwriter and LGBT advocate originally from Jalisco, Mexico, the mariachi heartland.

She is known as a mariachi singer and you can hear those strains in her music, but Vázquez gathers many different influences into a bluesy personal style that might be called post-mariachi. She is what happens when you leave mariachi-land and that’s what she has done in her life.

The work is sort of a personal trova as in Cuban trova, the Latin American protest music for which folk singers Bob Dylan and Joan Baez in the 1960s were the U.S. equivalent.

With a background in traditional Mexican music, Vázquez is anything but traditional. A fierce character and a big voice have given her a kind of independence.

Vázquez started out in mariachi, but mariachi used to be only done by men (see also Flor de Toloache). She is openly lesbian and while that is not a big deal in many places today, twenty years ago in Mexico, it was a very big deal. Mexican women didn’t do men’s work and didn’t love women openly. Going against the current made you very alone. Perhaps that’s what she is singing about in Sola Soy (I am alone) with Pink Martini.

Her Mexican traditions, big voice and fierce presence recall Chavela Vargas, another woman rooted in Mexican tradition, who sang in a man’s world, and was openly lesbian when that was not cool. There is something attractive about both artists’ ability to break tradition while being traditional.

When Vázquez sits down to perform, you just know that she is going to sing honestly to you. She won’t give you anybody but herself, but in her music, she gives all of herself. Just like Chavela used to do, Vázquez completely enters the song and takes you along with her. In our manufactured glossy pop world, she brings a breath of fresh air.

Vázquez plays the Brooklyn Museum for Carnegie Hall Citywide

Saturday, October 5, 2019 ~ Vazquez joins a First Saturdays celebration of Latinx Pride at the Brooklyn Museum at 5pm. FREE

Edna Vazquez

Edna Fabiola Vázquez was born in Colima, México and raised in Tonila, Jalisco. The big city in Jalisco state is Guadalajara, the capital of mariachi.

She started writing music as a teenager. Vázquez came out as lesbian when she was seventeen. For that her parents sent her to the U.S. where she joined Mariachi Los Palmeros in Salem, Oregon in 1998. That’s what used to happen in those days. When you came out, you got kicked out of your parent’s house.

In 2010, Vázquez performed on the Spanish-language talent show Tengo Talento, Mucho Talento (I’ve got talent, a lot of talent). She sang a traditional Mexican song from her mother’s home region that left the judges in tears.

This opened doors to more television appearances and a solo career.

In 2017, Vázquez spoke to Amanda Cargill for Latina magazine about the role her sexuality plays in her music. It’s worth repeating because Vázquez nailed it, and what she said resonates beyond the LGBT world.

She said, “I look forward to a day when we can drop the labels and everyone can be who they are, regardless of gender identity, sexual orientation, skin color or cultural heritage.”

Edna Vázquez has a dream, and in the manner of a true artist, she invites you to dream with her.

Edna Vázquez Albums

Edna Vázquez. Courtesy the artist.

Edna Vázquez. Courtesy the artist.

The more I listen to Vázquez, the more I like her. I wouldn’t call her a mariachi, even though you hear hints of Jalisco in her music. I would call her a truth singer. She is true to herself, true to her music, and true to her audience. ¡Bravo!

2009 ~ La Niña Tonatl is a collection of trovas, Latin folk protest music. The title (The child of Tonatl) is a reference to Colima where she was born.

2013 ~ No Passengers was a rock band that Vázquez fronted.

2013 ~ Canciones a mi tierra (Songs to my land) featured four original compositions in a traditional style.

2014 ~ Ser Abstracto (Be abstract) was Vázquez’ first full-length album.

2015 ~ Sola Soy (I am alone) was Vázquez’ first professionally produced album. She crowdfunded it.

For more information, visit www.ednavazquez.com

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