MEXICO CITY – Aida Cuevas, one of the top singers of traditional Mexican music, regrets that this music is given so little time on radio or television and provides very little in the way of opportunities for new talent, which is why she insists on the need to teach young musicians about their roots.
“Unfortunately, Mexican music seems to be past its peak,” the artist told EFE in an interview, just a few weeks before she will present her new disc, “Totalmente Juan Gabriel, Volumen II” that will include 67 songs for which the Divo of Juarez granted her the rights.
It’s not that there’s less talent but that record labels are giving young artists fewer chances to record that kind of music, which is why vocalists “either give up their careers or start singing other kinds of music.”
Though traditional Mexican music isn’t often heard on television or radio – “not many programs are interested in it” – Cuevas counts on teaching the very young “to love what is ours.”
“It’s our obligation to teach the new generations who we are, where we come from, what are our roots,” she said, and mention names like Jorge Negrete and Pedro Infante, and the great voices of ranchera music with whom she has shared the stage like Lola Beltran, Lucha Villa and Amalia Mendoza.
But if there is someone who made her the artist she is today, she said, it was Juan Gabriel (1950-2016), whom she met when she was 19.
At the time she had already recorded several discs, but Juan Gabriel (real name Armando Aguilera) “completely changed” her idea of how to perform.
“He was a perfectionist and he taught me to really love what I was doing,” Cuevas said.
Behind her as she spoke were two photos, a portrait of the young Juan Gabriel and a shot of the two smiling singers posing together in Santa Monica, California, the same place the Divo of Juarez passed away on Aug. 28, 2016.
On the first anniversary of the singer-songwriter’s death, Cuevas will present her new work, with songs by Juan Gabriel recorded with mariachi bands, some of the numbers never before recorded.
The winner of a Latin Grammy for her disc “De Corazon a Corazon,” Cuevas has a career going back more than 40 years, and remembers herself as a “very ingenuous girl” who never dreamed how far she would go – she just wanted people to like her music.
But now “after so many years” is when she sees the results of doing her work “with love and passion.”