Performance Tuesday, November 27, 2012 | 8 PM

Ely Guerra
Eugenia León
Tania Libertad

A Tribute to Chavela Vargas

Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage
Three of today’s most exciting female singers join forces for the first time to pay tribute to the late, legendary Chavela Vargas in an evening of traditional and contemporary Mexican song.

Algunas de las cantantes actuales más reconocidas se unen por primera vez para rendir homenaje a la legendaria Chavela Vargas mediante la interpretación de las canciones mexicanas tradicionales y contemporáneas más representativas.

Várias cantoras famosas atuais unem suas vozes pela primeira vez em uma homenagem a Chavela Vargas, em uma noite de música mexicana tradicional e contemporânea.


  • Ely Guerra, Vocalist
  • Eugenia León, Vocalist
  • Tania Libertad, Vocalist


  • Ely Guerra

    Ely Guerra is one of the key artists in contemporary Mexican music, releasing six recordings in 19 years, and touring throughout Mexico, Latin America, and around the world, including the US, Germany, France, Italy, England, and Spain. In 2010, she received the Latin Grammy Award in the Best Alternative Music Album category for Hombre invisible, on which she collaborated with such acclaimed artists as Juanes, Álvaro Henríquez of Los Tres, Emmanuel "Meme" del Real of Café Tacuba, Gustavo Santaolalla, Enrique Bunbury, and Gilberto Cerezo of Kinky. Ms. Guerra has also appeared on the film soundtracks Amores perros, De la calle, El viaje de Teo, and Sangre de familia. Among her many career highlights, Ms. Guerra has appeared with Sting in Mexico City, participated in a tribute to José Saramago at the Palacio de Bellas Artes, and sang during the Mexican bicentennial celebrations and the 2011 recent Pan-American Games.

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  • Eugenia León

    Eugenia León got her start in the nueva canción ("new song") folk movement, dedicated to social change, which played a role in the social upheavals in Portugal, Spain, and Latin America in the 1970s and '80s. In 1985, just days after an earthquake devastated her hometown of Mexico City, Ms. León earned the top prize at the Festival OTI de la Canción in Spain. With more than 25 recordings and a repertoire that ranges from contemporary composers to traditional Mexican and Latin American music-not to mention her ability to incorporate elements of theater, cabaret, and opera into her performances-Ms. León has never been locked into any one musical genre. Her association with actors, poets, painters, and writers imparts a distinct and rich dimension to her art. She has appeared in prestigious events around the world, including the Pan-Pacific Festival in Japan, Kennedy Center's AmericArtes Festival, the Seville Expo in Spain, and the Summit of the Americas in Colombia. Earlier this year, Ms. León performed "La Llorona," a song made famous by Chavela Vargas, in front of the great singer herself.

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  • Tania Libertad

    Peruvian vocalist Tania Libertad is considered one of the greatest singers in Latin America today. She began singing romantic boleros at the age of five, building a repertoire of more than 300 boleros by the time she was 16. At 21, she was invited to a political song festival in Cuba, and began singing protest songs and sentimental ballads with musician-activists of the nueva trova movement before moving to Mexico. Over the course of her career, Ms. Libertad has made more than 36 recordings that have sold over two million copies combined. She has performed in concert throughout the US, Central America, and the Andean countries of Peru, Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador, and Colombia, collaborating with such artists as Miguel Bosé, Rubén Blades, Cesária Évora, Mercedes Sosa, and Plácido Domingo. Ms. Libertad has been named an Ambassador for Peace by UNESCO, Comendadora by the Peruvian government, and a member of the Order of Rio Branco in Brazil. In early 2012, she began celebrating 50 years as a performer with two sold-out performances at the Palacio de Bellas Artes-Mexico City's most prestigious concert hall-and began an extensive tour throughout Latin America.

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About Chavela Vargas

Isabel "Chavela" Vargas was born in Costa Rica in 1917 and arrived in Mexico as an adolescent, working as a chauffeur and a street singer. Friends with Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo in the 1940s, she earned an important place in the vibrant music scene of 1950s Mexico City, unmasking the flamboyant ranchera music of the day to reveal its deepest passions. For many, Chavela was the greatest of all the artists who sung the classic rancheras written by her great friend, the legendary composer José Alfredo Jiménez.

Admired by presidents and princesses, Chavela sung at one of Elizabeth Taylor's weddings, and socialized with Ava Gardner and Rock Hudson in Acapulco, although she always recognized her most important public as the everyday people, with whom she most closely identified. In 1976, worn down by the excesses of her trade, Chavela decided to retire, although she returned with dramatic success in 1991, beginning a decade of high-profile tours in Europe, including a concert at the Olympia in Paris. In 2003, at the age of 83, she made her Carnegie Hall debut.

Chavela's film career included La soldadera in 1966 and then, in the 1990s, she appeared in La flor de mi secreto and Carne trémula—both directed by her great friend Pedro Almodóvar. In 2002, she sang and appeared in Julie Taymor's film Frida. Four years later, she performed on the soundtrack of Babel.

Chavela's many prizes include the Gran Cruz Isabel la Católica, presented to her by the president of Spain in 2000, and the Latin Recording Academy's Lifetime Achievement Award in 2007. Two years later, she was proclaimed a Distinguished Citizen of Mexico City and in 2012 she won the Lunas del auditorio for her concert with Eugenia León and Martirio.

Chavela recorded more than 80 albums, including Chavela at Carnegie Hall (2006) and La luna grande (2012), her tribute to Spanish poet Federico García Lorca. The decision to select and recite Lorca's poetry marked a new and ambitious phase in her long career. Her performance of this album at the Palacio de Bellas Artes unknowingly served as her public farewell.

Chavela Vargas passed away in Mexico on August 5, 2012.



Eugenia León performs "La Llorona"—made famous by Chavela Vargas—for the great lady earlier this year.


Ely Guerra performs "Peligro."


Tania Libertad performs "Cardo o Ceniza."

Presented by Carnegie Hall in partnership with Celebrate México Now.
Lead funding for Voices from Latin America is provided by grants from the Ford Foundation and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Sponsored, in part, by Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ and Mercantil Servicios Financieros.

Public support is provided by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Consulate General of Brazil in New York.
This performance is part of Voices from Latin America - Students, and Signatures.

Part of