- Lucha Reyes (Mexican singer)
Maria de luz Flores (May 23, 1906-June 25, 1944), better known as Lucha Reyes, was a famous Mexican mariachi singer. She was a native of Guadalajara, Jalisco. She used the last name Reyes as a homage to her stepfather.
Reyes had a very poor childhood. In 1917, she and her mother moved to Mexico City. By 1919, she began singing during circus acts. At the young age of thirteen, she had begun to make some money with her voice, and to meet some of that era's most popular Mexican singers.
Reyes went on tour in 1920 to Los Angeles, where she would become an icon among the local Hispanics. She made a duo with Nancy Torres, and decided to stay in Los Angeles. In 1924, she returned to Mexico.
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. She took one year off and returned in 1929.
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.
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").
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, this was due to her failing health, she was just 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.
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