Despite recording over one hundred songs and earning the moniker “la reina de los mariachis” (the queen of mariachis), very little is known about the life and career of the Mexican ranchera singer Lucha Reyes (1906–1944). In this article, we examine why her achievements are overlooked and often excluded in accounts that celebrate Mexico’s most prized entertainers. Drawing on analyses of her musical performances in film and audio recordings, in combination with newspaper articles, magazine stories, and biographic accounts, we contend that Reyes was marginalized because she visually and vocally violated the gender norms of the period, queered the ranchera genre, and challenged the heteronormative contours of mexicanidad (Mexicanness). For these reasons, Reyes’s influence in music culture has not been adequately valorized and has regularly been positioned in the margins of Mexican historiography. Instead, it was her male contemporaries, including Jorge Negrete, José Alfredo Jiménez, and Pedro Infante, who were credited with shaping and popularizing the canción ranchera. We analyze these exclusionary dynamics, consider Reyes’s contributions to Mexican music, and highlight her continuing significance on Mexicana and Chicana entertainers.


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pp. 196-221
Launched on MUSE
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