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A WGVU initiative in partnership with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation using on-air programs and community events to explore issues of inclusion and equity.

Grand Rapids Latin American Festival this weekend will feature Chavela Vargas

[11 seconds of La Sombra by Chavela Vargas]

As a musician, Chavela Vargas broke the mold of Ranchera music by being the first woman to sing Ranchera songs dressed as a man.  Ranchera is a genre of the traditional music of Mexico. 

“She had a very particular way of singing. Her voice was deep.”

[6 seconds of Sombras by Chavela Vargas]

That’s Mayra Fortes Gonzales. A co-chair of the Grand Rapids Latin American Film Festival.

“She also was towards the end of her life very active, making her gender and sexual identity public. She became a symbol for the LGBTQ community in Mexico and other countries in Latin America.” 

For the last nine years, the Grand Rapids Latin American Film Festival has been bringing films like Chavela to share with local audiences the history and culture of Latin America. 

“The community will gain that experience to see movies that sometimes are not accessible through TV, or Netflix, or even the theatres, and learn about Latin America and its’ diversity.” 

The film festival will take place starting this Friday through Sunday at Wealthy Street 

Theatre. Entrance is free and open to the public. Chavela will be playing on Saturday at 8pm.  

[8 seconds of Chavela Vargas] 

Michelle Jokisch Polo, WGVU News.