Lucha Reyes (Mexican singer)

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Maria de Luz Flores Aceves (May 23, 1906 – June 25, 1944), better known as Lucha Reyes, was a well-known performer of Mexican ranchera or mariachi music from Guadalajara, Jalisco. Although she showed her love for singing from childhood, her career reached its peak in the thirties, when she specialized in themes of Mexican folklore.

Early life[edit]

Reyes lost her father when she was still small. She took the surname Reyes from her mother's second husband, who took care of her until she was a teenager. In her early singing career, she won the title of Queen of Mariachi in her home province. Soon after, she moved with her family to Mexico City, where they lived in a modest house in Colonia Morelos. Because of the family's financial problems, she never finished primary school. Later she joined the church choir at Iglesia de Carmen. [1] [2] Her career began at the age of 13, when she performed in a tent in San Sebastian plaza near her house in the Federal District, alternating with comedians like Amelia Wilhelmy, José Limón, and the Acevedo Brothers. [3]

Career[edit]

Reyes traveled to the U.S. to study voice, and in 1920 went on tour to several states, where she became an icon among the local Hispanics. She teamed up with Nancy Torres, and decided to stay in Los Angeles. It was during this tour that she met the journalist Gabriel Navarro, and they were married shortly after. Lucha suffered a miscarriage, lost the baby, and they divorced. In 1924, she returned to Mexico. [4]

Reyes would eventually decide to launch a solo career, and she became popular with Mexican radio listeners, while keeping a busy theater schedule. In 1927, she decided to try to conquer Europe, and she joined Juan N. Torreblanca on a tour of that continent. The tour, however, had to be cancelled when it reached Berlin. It is not publicly known how the tour members were stranded in Germany; what is known, however, is that a popular piano player who travelled with them had to play one night at an infamous local bar in order for her to be able to afford an air ticket back to Mexico. One positive aspect about this tour was that Reyes was able to record her first LP, one of the first LPs to introduce Mexican music to European audiences. Reyes was not a Mariachi singer during this period of her career, she was rather a soprano. Reyes had taken light clothing with her for her European tour; this, combined with the cold weathers of Europe when compared to Mexico, caused her to get sick and, eventually, to lose her voice. Her voice ailment was the cause of a voice change, and, upon returning, she started singing "rancheras". One of her first songs in the "ranchera-mariachi" genre, "Guadalajara", became a classic that is nowadays considered by many to be Mexico's second national anthem.

In 1928 Lucha Reyes launched a career as a solo artist, and a year later began her best years as an artist, achieving successes with songs like "La tequilera", "¡Ay Jalisco no te rajes!", "El corrido de Chihuahua", "El herradero", "La Panchita", "Traigo un amor", "Juan Colorado", "El castigador", "Rayando el sol", "Caminito de Contreras" and more. In 1930 the entrepreneur Frank Founce contracted with her to perform several concerts on the stage of the Million Dollar Theater in Los Angeles. [5]

Plagued by alcohol[edit]

When she decided to sing with mariachis, she caused a culture shock, as Mexicans were not used to seeing women lead mariachi bands. Despite her success, she also garnered much criticism, especially when talking about alcoholism in public: she would declare after certain songs that she wanted to go and get drunk, or such things like that.

In 1934, she married producer Felix Martin Cervantes, and she made her first movie, "Cancion del Alma" ("Song of the Soul").

Between 1937 and 1943, she made six movies, acting with Pedro Armendáriz (twice), Dolores del Río, Jorge Negrete, Flor Silvestre and Consuelo del Alba, among others.

Lucha Reyes' death was a mysterious one. Her alcoholism problem had become worse, and she had begun to use other drugs. She was found dead after taking tequila and some pills. She committed suicide due to her failing health and was only 38.

A movie about her life would later show that Reyes supposedly hired workers for her mansions and treat them like slaves. These allegations, however, have never been denied nor accepted by her relatives.

She has a statue in 'Mariachi Plaza' in East Los Angeles, California.

References[edit]