GARZA, EVA (1917–1966). Eva Garza, one of seven children, was born on May 11, 1917, in San Antonio, Texas, to Procopio V. Garza and Cenobia B. Ramírez. She grew up in the Alazán-Apache Courts, and from the age of seven she sang at parties and at the Iman Institute. While at Lanier High School, her music teacher heard her sing an opera and was so amazed that she took her to a radio station for an audition. Eva and a boy sang “Indian Love Call” and “Sweet Mystery of Life” over the radio. In a contest at the Texas Theatre given by the Monte Carlo Brewery about 1933, Eva sang “I’m in the Mood for Love” and won the second-place prize of $500. Eva also entered a contest at the Zaragosa Theatre and won a piano.
In 1935 an official, Mr. Lozano, with the radio station KABC, heard Eva sing and asked her to perform on a Spanish hour of music. This also helped launch her professional career. That same year José Davila of Davila Glass Works sponsored her to sing on a radio program. In 1936 she began singing at the Nacional Theater with the vaudeville troupe, Netty y Jesús and Don Sauve. On October 23, 1936, she made her first recordings. The sessions by Bluebird Records were held in San Antonio at the Texas Hotel, and her songs included “La Jaibera” and “Qué Me Importa.”
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Her big break came in 1937 when she auditioned for Sally Rand (the fan dancer) who was starring at the Majestic Theatre. At the audition Eva was hired for her “strong voice,” and she toured with Sally Rand in North America, including New York. When Sally Rand’s tour ended after six months, Eva returned home. In 1938 she formed her own outfit, Eva Garza and Her Troupe, and went on to be internationally-famous. From January 1939 to 1942 she toured in South and Central America and the Antilles. While on tour she met the famous Mexican Singer, Felipe Bojalil Gil (nicknamed “El Charro”), who sang with a trio called El Charro Gil y sus Caporales. On December 30, 1939, Eva and Felipe Gil were wed in San Antonio. They had three children, one of whom became known as the singer Fabricio. The couple settled in New York City, and during the 1940s she recorded for Columbia and sang on CBS radio’s Viva América program, broadcast over short wave radio in Spanish, English, and Portuguese. Garza became known as the “Sweetheart of the Americas.” She also performed in nightclubs in New York, Cuba, and in Bogota, Columbia, where she had a street named after her.
In 1949 she went to live in Mexico City as she was contracted by radio station XEW (the first radio station in Mexico City) and Churubusco Studios to perform for three programs a week. She met many famous people from around the world including Agustín Lara, Javier Solís, and Lola Beltrán, and teamed up with famous stars such as Pedro Infante, Pedro Vargas, Jorge Negrete, Ernesto Alonzo, and Joaquín Paradavé. In the 1950s she appeared in several movies including Paco el Elegante (1952) and Mujeres sin Mañana (1951). During the course of her career she received three Maria Grever Awards as Best Singer of the Year.
In 1965 she married artist, Abel Reynosa, who was from Argentina, and they made their home there. Columbia Records asked her to return to Mexico to record an album titled Vuelve Eva Garza Mexican Encore, and she was asked to re-record “Celosa,” “Cantando,” and “Arrepentido.” Thereafter, she went on tour to Arizona, New Mexico, and Los Angeles. While in Tucson, she was diagnosed with double pneumonia. She died there on November 1, 1966, at the age of forty-nine and was buried in Panteón Jardín in Mexico City. Eva Garza was one of three prominent San Antonio Tejana musicians (the others were Lydia Mendoza and Rosita Fernández) featured as the centerpiece of a large mural, located on West Commerce Street in San Antonio, honoring San Antonio musicians and commissioned by the San Anto Cultural Arts Community Mural Program in 2008. Garza was inducted into the Tejano R.O.O.T.S. Hall of Fame as a Tejano pioneer in 2013.
Yolanda Broyles-Gonzalez, Lydia Mendoza's Life in Music/La historia de Lydia Mendoza: norteño tejano legacies (New York: Oxford University Press, 2001). Hector Saldana, “The return of Eva Garza,” February 20, 2013, mySA (http://www.mysanantonio.com/entertainment/article/The-return-of-Eva-Garza-4290979.php), accessed November 1, 2015. San Antonio Express–News, July 24, 2008. Deborah R. Vargas, Dissonant Divas in Chicana Music: The Limits of La Onda (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2012). Deborah Vargas, “Eva Garza: From El Barrio to Boleros,” Chicano/Latino Studies, Vol. 11, Issue 2.
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The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.Handbook of Texas Online, Clayton T. Shorkey, "Garza, Eva," accessed September 30, 2016, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fgaak.
Uploaded on June 30, 2014. Modified on August 3, 2016. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.