Funeral for a friend: Rita Vidaurri

Golden Age ranchera singer Rita Vidaurri, who died January 16 in San Antonio at age 94, was a friend of The Wittliff Collections.

Thanks to the Ramon Hernandez Collection, and a 2017 exhibition “Legends of Tejano: Highlights from the Ramon Hernandez Archives” curated by Hernandez and journalist Joe Nick Patoski, Vidaurri’s contribution to Texas music is continuing to be discovered. Just this week, she was included in an episode of “Texas Country Reporter” about Hernandez’s archives which was taped last year and featured scenes from inside The Wittliff.

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Vidaurri, who was known as “La Calandria” (the Lark) and achieved fame throughout Latin America in the 1940s and ’50s and was the first Tejana to sing at Madison Square Garden, was also a close personal friend.

It fell to me to write her obituary in the San Antonio Express-News. Over the years, as a newspaper journalist and later as music curator, I got to know Rita and the other equally-cherished, big personality singers comprising Las Tesoros de San Antonio – Blanca Rodriguez, Beatriz Llamas and the late Anita Jeanette “Janet” Cortez.  I dubbed them “The Golden Girls” of ranchera and it stuck. It suited them. I can honestly say some of the best times of my life have been in the company of these talented women. No doubt, Vidaurri (whose photos for this article come from the Hernandez archives) will be honored in song at her funeral services in S.A. much like Cortez, who died in 2015.

Visitation is 3-9 p.m. Thursday (Jan. 24) at Castillo Mission Funeral Home, 520 N. General McMullen, San Antonio. Phone: 210-432-8586.

Funeral Mass at 10 a.m. Friday (Jan. 25) at San Martin de Porres, 1730 Dahlgreen Avenue, San Antonio. Phone: 210-432-5203.

Interment follows at San Fernando Cemetery No. 2, 746 Castroville Road, San Antonio. Phone: 210-432-2302.