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Arts & Culture

Rita Vidaurri, San Antonio's South-Of-The-Border Celebrity

She may be the most famous San Antonian you’ve never heard of. She’s Rita Vidaurri, an international singing star who was raised on the West Side of San Antonio and was a huge deal south of the border back in the 40s and 50s.

"I went to Cuba, sang with Nat King Cole. From Cuba I went to Costa Rica, Panama, all over Colombia," she said.

Vidaurri also sang on Mexico City’s radio XEW, and in nightclubs all over the country, with essentially all of the big names of the era.

In honor of Vidaurri's 90th birthday, the Esperanza Peace and Justice Center has planned an homage at the Guadalupe Theater Friday night. There will be several bands -- Los Texmaniacs, the Tesoros de San Antonio -- and Rita will also sing songs from her new CD.     

"A lot of the artists just want to be there with me, so they’re contributing," said Vidaurri.

As to why you’ve heard of Lydia Mendoza, but perhaps not Rita Vidaurri, the Esperanza's Graciela Sanchez offers this explanation:

"Rita’s success was in traveling south, to Latin America, unlike Lydia Mendoza who followed the migrant stream going north," Sanchez said.

Rita's a fun interview, mixing tales of her childhood with her current day, and at times, offering bold statements like this: "I have a very loud voice. I sing loud."

That she does, and she’s prone to breaking out in song in the middle of interviews. As we spoke she sang the first song she's sung in English, a song from her new CD, which is dedicated to her three sons, all of whom have passed on.

"The world is mine it can be yours so why don’t you pretend my friend," Rita sang.