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Famed Mexican ‘ranchera’ singer dead at 58

November 6, 1997

MEXICO CITY (AP) _ Maria de Lourdes, a famed Mexican ``ranchera″ singer, collapsed at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport and died Thursday morning. She was 58.

Polydor, which handled her records in Mexico City, said she died of a heart attack.

Known as ``the voice of Mexico,″ and a favorite singer of Holland’s Prince Bernhard, Maria de Lourdes was about to board a morning flight to return to Mexico with her son Lazaro Ortega after a singing tour of Europe.

Several times she had sung ``Las Mananitas,″ Mexico’s traditional birthday song, for Bernhard and other members of Dutch royalty on their birthdays.

It was in Holland that Maria de Lourdes recorded her 44th album.

Maria de Lourdes Perez Lopez was born in Mexico City in 1939 and started singing at an early age. But she liked to be known simply as Maria de Lourdes.

She first toured outside Mexico to Japan in 1963, and every year after that she toured several countries for about a month. These included France, Germany, the United States and South America.

She was famed for defending the copyrights of singers and artists and helped several sue when they felt shortchanged.

Fans erected a 6-foot bronze statue in her honor at Plaza Garibaldi, Mexico City’s traditional spot for open air mariachi performers. She was to have unveiled it Nov. 19.

She is survived by her two sons, Lazaro and Pedro.

Funeral arrangement were still incomplete.

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