Beyond the Lights

I was first introduced to Chavela Vargas when I started interning at Aubin Pictures and boy, am I glad I was. Chavela spoke to me the moment I saw her face. There’s something about her eyes that really drew me to her. They looked full of pain and sorrow. Just one look at her and I knew there was more to her than her raspy voice and colorful ponchos. I knew there was a story to be told. That she had seen and been through more than I could imagine. The most beautiful thing is that she turned those stories into music! She found a way to comfort people with her pain. Even though I know as much Spanish as I do Chinese (none), with Chavela’s music I don’t have to know what she’s saying in order to understand her. I am drawn to the way she sings the words rather than what they mean. Chavela sings with passion. Her facial expressions said it all when she was performing. When she was on stage she wasn’t making cute faces and trying to look pretty for the audience. The faces she made truly embodied how she felt. That is part of the reason why I understand her. Through her music, not only am I able to feel her pain but relieve mine as well.

Her music wasn’t the only thing I fell in love with, her view on life really changed me. She was, as everyone loves to say, a total badass! I am the kind of person that is too scared to take risks and tends to care about what other people think. Which brings me to one of the reasons why I find Chavela so inspiring. She didn’t care about what other people thought of her and she made sure everyone knew it. Instead of letting other people tell her who she was, she defined herself. She knew exactly who she was and made sure the world did as well. In a way she taught me a very valuable lesson: she taught me to be myself and to not be defined by anyone but myself. A quote that comes to mind when I think of Chavela is, “Accept no ones definition of your life, Define yourself!”

I am going to conclude this by saying: Thank you Chavela Vargas for helping me be a better me. Gone but never forgotten, may your beautiful soul rest in peace.

-Ratha Ali