The singer stars on the February cover of ELLE Mexico and talks about her love for Chavela Vargas.
Twenty-three years, nine albums, every possible look, a Las Vegas residency, three stints as a judge on The Voice, five Grammys (a Latin Grammy!), and two children have passed since “Genie in a Bottle” came out. Not to mention the time that has passed since the Mickey Mouse Club. Even so, Christina Aguilera took the time to improve her Spanish; although sometimes it confuses her that a word has five different meanings, depending on the country.
I caught up with Christina a couple of days after she received the American Music Award for music icon. I took the opportunity to review her career, we talked about her Latin roots (which she does not intend to give up), her love for Chavela Vargas and how she is tired of asking for forgiveness.
Thus, Christina stars on the February cover of ELLE Mexico and presents her new album in Spanish, where she sings with Latin artists Nathy Peluso, Nicki Nicole and Becky G.
Christina Aguilera (CA) : In February of last year I was in Miami and immersed myself in the experience of being surrounded by the most wonderful musicians, songwriters and singers. I fell in love with music again. There is nothing like a sense of belonging and live music. After so long in the industry, you forget the fun part and the reasons why you started. I found that feeling again, we were all very happy to create together. It reminded me of my first album in Spanish, My reflection.
IR: You mentioned My reflection, why did you decide to reconnect with your Latin roots twenty years after releasing that album?
CA : I’ve always wanted to do it, but until now I found the opportunity. I do things when they feel good. At first I was embarrassed because I don’t speak Spanish very well. I have always listened to music in Spanish, and the person who is now the head of Sony Music Latin America (whom I already knew), was very supportive. He listened to me, I told him that I greatly admire the work of Chavela Vargas and that it would be wonderful to do something like “Paloma negra” in her stage, one of my all-time favorite songs. The passion with which she sings is like from beyond, it feels very real, very powerful. The instances where he lets go really inspired me to have moments like that on this record. We have much more cheerful songs, but for me it was very important that we include those things that have inspired me from other singers. I am happy.
IR: Who introduced you to the music of Chavela Vargas?
AC: Life. As a child I would go to record stores and check out the world music section, from the Middle East, to India and places where they used voice and instruments differently; they are songs so powerful that you don’t need to understand what they say. It is an emotion, a feeling; That’s why I love music so much. It’s the reason I do it. They are not the popularity lists, that is the least of it. Doing what makes me happy is the important thing. And Chavela, her story, her documentary, the way she empowers women; she didn’t change her way of being for anyone, she simply consolidated herself as what she wanted to be. In his voice, in the amazing songs he made, you could feel his heart hurt, no matter what he said. I have a lot of respect for him. It’s not about how many notes a singer hits, it’s about the emotion,
IR: How was your first contact with feminism?
CA : Through music and the example of other strong women. Feminism is lived in many ways. As a girl I saw what my mother went through, she gave up her career to become a housewife, to make her marriage work, and it did her no good. Not on a personal level, not as a woman. That instilled professional ethics in me and encouraged me to never put myself in the position of depending on a man. From a very young age I decided to be strong. I was never in a hurry to get married, I always wanted to work and sing. I started when I first saw The Sound of Music movie., when he sang he looked free. In my childhood I felt trapped and escaped through art and movies, thinking or looking out the window. I learned great lessons from my mother. I learned from him his kindness and good heart, he taught me to be a genuine person. It was difficult for her to end her marriage, many women never leave it and I feel very proud of her. That’s where “Oh Mother” comes from, it’s a tribute to her. It is important to talk about your battles because you never know who is going to listen or who is going through the same thing. I live to inspire, that’s why I dedicate myself to this. Having been in the industry since I was a child has allowed me to see that men always get their way, we live in a world where men rule. I went through a lot of shit and I couldn’t talk about it. So I learned about women’s values, I learned to do things for myself and to make sure that I work to have enough power, to dictate the rules. Now we have platforms with greater reach, we can raise our voices and unite. Now we celebrate different bodies, people celebrate our life choices, we are living fully and we don’t have to apologize. That is very important. My work shows that I have made the right decisions.
You can read the full story of Christina Aguilera in the February 2022 edition of ELLE Mexico.
Cover Story Credits
Model: XTINA @xtina
Photographer / Director: Benjo Arwas
Interview: Ileana Rodríguez
Styling: Chris Horan – The Wall Group
Production: The Gold Horse for ELLE Mexico
Makeup: Etienne Ortega
Hair: Jesus Guerrero
Nails: Chaun Peth
Executive Producer : Dalit Gwenna Branch
Producer: Sarah Kensell
Production Assistant: Bryan Carvajal
Choreography Director: Ryan Walker Page
Photo Assistant: Christian Raices
Location: The Revery LA
Post Production: Mode Studios UK
General Editor: Claudia Cándano