This article is from the April 1996 The Mexico File
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The Era of "Lola La Grande"
She was known in Mexico as "Lola La Grande," a woman who helped define the standard popular vocalusic of Mexico in much the fashion of Frank Sinatra in the United States or Edith Piaf in France. Lola Beltran died on March 24 in Mexico City of complications from a stroke. Crowds filed for a week into the Palace of Fine Arts in Mexico City to view her body and her burial was held in the northwestern state of Sinaba where Miss Beltran was born 64 years ago in the town of El Rosario. And so came the passing of a beloved icon of Mexico culture.
Lola Beltran sang of love.. the joy of finding it and the sadness of losing it. She brought the romantic ranchera music of the Mexican countryside to distant places in the world and helped to define a style of music that evokes the flavor and character of traditional Mexico. In a career that began when she was a teenager and lasted until late last year, Miss Beltran recorded 78 albums and appeared in more than 60 Mexican movies. Her frilly blouses and long skirts and shawls reflected the character of the rural Mexico of a less complicated era. Aniong her greatest hits were "El Inocente" and "Cucurrucucu Paloma," which she sang in a strong, clear voice to the pulsating rhythm of mariachi music.
She became a model for many singers, including Linda Ronstadt who, when her own album, "Canciones de mi Padre," appeared in 1991, described Miss Beltran as her idol and "one of the best Mexican singers ever." Miss Beltran never changed her musical style; although other Mexican singers moved away from ranchera music, she molded it into a minor art form.
Her songs of unrequited love would often bring tears to the eyes of her listeners. Anyone who loves the passion and simple grace of the experience of old Mexico would do well to acquire one of her albums.. .as Mexico now enters other cultural stages.