by Jason Mellard / Center for Texas Music History at Texas State
On May 11, 1917, singer Eva Garza was born in San Antonio. Though always tied to those Texas roots, her meteoric career spanned the hemisphere, earning her the nickname “Sweetheart of the Americas.”
Garza was already singing on stage and on radio in San Antonio by age eighteen. At nineteen, she made her first recordings with Bluebird Records. At twenty, in 1937, she toured nationally with Sally Rand’s popular burlesque troupe. At twenty-one, she struck out on her own, performing abroad in South America, Central America, and the Caribbean and attracting an international audience with her heartfelt songs.
Garza spent the 1940s in New York and Mexico City, starring in radio programs and film while continuing to tour countries where she had developed a devoted following like Cuba and Colombia. In 1965, she moved to Argentina with her new husband, artist Abel Reynosa. She continued recording in Mexico, and in 1966 embarked on a final tour of the U.S. Southwest, where she passed unexpectedly at age forty-nine. Eva Garza’s expansive catalog and career, Latin American success, and passionate fandom laid the groundwork for later artists like Selena, Texas-born but remembered through the Americas.