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Chavela Vargas, famed Mexican singer who came out as a lesbian at age 81, dies at 93 (with video)

BY ISAAC GARRIDO, ASSOCIATED PRESS

MEXICO CITY -- Chavela Vargas, who defied gender stereotypes to become one of the most legendary singers in Mexico, died Sunday at age 93.

Her friend and biographer Maria Cortina said Vargas died at a hospital in the city of Cuernavaca, where she had been admitted for heart and respiratory problems.

Vargas rose to fame flouting the Roman Catholic country's preconceptions of what it meant to be a female singer: singing lusty "ranchera" songs while wearing men's clothes, carrying a pistol, drinking heavily and smoking cigars.

Though she refused to change the pronouns in love songs about women as some audiences expected, many of her versions of passionate Mexican folk songs are considered definitive.

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