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When the revolution of Pancho Villa and Zapata broke out, she was five years old. One evening, as the fighting grew ever closer, Esperanza Arellano's mother pulled her up onto the saddle and rode away from Rio Blanco.

But in the darkness, the horse stumbled and fell. Mama's leg was broken. After lying by the roadside all night, the pair were discovered and taken before General Obregon for questioning.

One day he would be president of Mexico. And Esperanza would sing for him. But neither of them knew that then.
Esperanza in Juarez

General Obregon sent Esperanza and her mother to the safety of Metepec, where they obtained medical treatment.

There Esperanza was sent to school. But on the first day she got lost in the dark on the way home. So she was sent to the Hospice Zamora in the care of the nuns. Among other things, they taught Esperanza music.

By age seven, she was chosen to sing at the Children's Festival at the Teatro Principal in Vera Cruz, her first public appearance.

At fourteen, Esperanza became a seamstress for a market woman, so that her mother need no longer work as a cook. With her earnings she took a secretarial course and got a job at the town hall.

Then a strange thing happened to Esperanza. Her beautiful singing voice disappeared. She could barely speak.

This distressing condition persisted for five years, then amazingly cleared up as suddenly as it had struck. Able once again to sing, her passion for music burned brighter.

She became engaged at eighteen. But her fiancé died shortly before the wedding, leading superstitious villagers to declare Esperanza a witch!

So she moved with her mother to Mexico City, where her seamstress skills soon earned her a position in a high fashion house. The owner allowed her to sing whenever she wanted.

Her outstanding voice made her well known in the "tandas" (tent shows) among the Zarzuela musical companies, with which she sang around central Mexico for some years. She was affectionately called "the Mexican Nightingale" by thrilled audiences in theatres and concert halls all over Mexico.

In the company of the Theatre Arbeu, operated by Pepita Embil, the mother of Placido Domingo, she scored a triumph when the primadonna fell ill and Esperanza stepped into the role.


In the 1950s, family duties and age caused her to give up singing.

Fast forward...

In 1997, at the age of 85, Esperanza Arellano walked into a sound studio and recorded her first album, I Live To Sing, co-produced by Ray Campi and British jazz legend Diz Disley. Her backing group included Disley on guitar, Ian Whitcomb on piano and accordion, and Campi on bass.

The album, which was released on cassette, contained 16 standards that were popular during the first half of the 20th century.
cassette cover

The songs:

1. Cielito Lindo
2. Solamenta Una Vez
3. Siboney
4. Por Ti Aprendi A Querer
5. Kiss Me Again
6. Amor
7. Over the Rainbow
8. Maleguena
___ _9. Besame Mucho
10. My Hero
11. Torna A Surriento
12. Begin the Beguine
13. La Mattinata
14. Quiereme Mucho
15. Only Make Believe
16. Buscas Una Estrella

Here is an MP3 from I Live To Sing:


Esperanza in the 1990s In 1974, Esperanza relocated to Los Angeles, where she lived with her daughter Rosa.

She passed away on the evening of December 15, 1998.

Esperanza performing in Glendale,
backed by Diz Disley (guitar), Ray Campi
(bass) and Ian Whitcomb (accordion).

This page established: January 3, 1998             Last updated: March 2, 2023

© 1998-2023 Earl P. Reinhalter. All Rights Reserved.