, 2022-09-28 02:00:00,
Before she would record and perform traditional Mexican music, she needed to study its intricacies. Huapangos in particular were formidable, with complicated rhythms and lots of falsetto. She apprenticed with Mariachi Los Camperos de Nati Cano, a well-known group in L.A. The guys in the band were surprised Ronstadt wanted to sing mariachi songs. Nobody was doing that on the world stage, and historically mariachi music was an all-male tradition. “They could have been real defensive and real schmucky, but they were completely willing to help,” she recalls. Los Camperos played on the record, as did Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán, widely considered the best mariachi in the world. To the studio sessions Ronstadt wore a peach-colored rebozo given to her by the Mexican singer Lola Beltrán, a.k.a. Lola la Grande (Lola the Great). Ronstadt borrowed the album title, Canciones de Mi Padre, from her aunt Luisa’s 1946 songbook.
Some white critics regarded Canciones as a radical departure for Ronstadt, seemingly unable to comprehend that she had Mexican roots. “I’d say it in interviews all the time—‘I’m Mexican’—and it was just ignored. Like, ‘You can’t be Mexican. You have a German surname and you’re white as a lily.’” Ronstadt had to explain yet again that Mexico was a melting pot. That one branch of her family tree had been in Mexico since the…
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