Born María Isabel Granda Larco, on September 3, 1920, Chabuca is remembered as a great performer and composer of Criollo music. Later in her career, the performer would create quite a stir when she began taking influence from Afro-Peruvian rhythms, a style not yet accepted by the ´high-class´ scene in Lima.
A native of Apurimac, a copper-driven region in southern-central Peru, Chabuca and her family migrated to Lima when she was a young girl. Reportedly, she began singing at the tender age of twelve, whereby she was named vice-president of her school’s choir group.
Her distinctively deep voice set the singer apart, however she did not gain an immediate fan base. Some credit her divorce, a scandalous event for the conservative Lima of this time, as a promotional plus for making her known.
Perhaps her most famous song was “La flor de la canela,” or Cinnamon flower. Considered a Criollo waltz, the song was composed by Chabuca is 1950 however did not become popular until a few years later when the Peruvian band, Los Chamas, recorded a cover.
In 2016, the theater association Preludio Asociación Cultural staged the musical Dejame que te cuente, a dazzling tribute to the singer that puts on display moments in her life/career with performances of her most recognized songs.
To commemorate Chabuca’s 100th birthday, Preludio will air the musical on their YouTube channel on Thursday, September 3, 2020 at 8pm Peru time (9pm EST, 6pm PST). More info about the transmission here.
A statue of the national icon stands near the Barranco landmark known as the ‘bridge of sighs.’ The Peruvian singer helped make it famous in her song, “El Puente de los Suspiros.”
Due to heart problems, Chabuca Granda passed away in the United States in March of 1983. The Peruvian singer and composer would have been 100 this year.
Listen to her performance of La flor de la canela:
Cover photo: Hernán García Crespo/Flickr
This article has been updated from its original publication on September 14, 2014, written by Agnes Rivera.
We help you find yourself in Peru. Since 2003, we have led the way as an authoritative and reliable English-language resource for those interested in traveling, living, working, and investing in Peru. We are a team of dedicated individuals who are passionate about delivering reliable and unbiased content and providing amazing experiences for people visiting Peru.