First and foremost there is the voice. Ahead of the myths, the life, even the songs themselves, the (broken) heart of the matter is that voice, a deep, raw, almost sepulchral growl that transcends gender and goes to depths most of us fear to even acknowledge. Androgynous ranchera singer Chavela Vargas came to prominence in Mexican popular culture in her 30s and lived a hard life, pouring tales of wine and women into her skeletal, guitar-and-voice-only songs. Amazingly – given her front-and-center gender-fuckery in the 1950s continuing until her death in 2012 – Chavela became a legend in Mexico. This, the first English-language documentary on the singular performer, gives the full story on the singer’s art, tumultuous life and loves (perhaps including a relationship with Frida Kahlo), a 15-year struggle with alcoholism, and an eventual return to the spotlight. Gallows love notes like “Paloma Negra” still resonate with young audiences hungry to find kindred spirits and honest pain in the pop culture landscape. Do you really want it darker? You know where to find us.
9:30 p.m. Monday, Jan. 22 | Enzian Theater, 1300 S. Orlando Ave., Maitland | 407-629-0054 | enzian.org