Toña La Negra
One of Mexico's most unusual and talented songstresses, Tona La Negra is sometimes called the Mexican Billie Holiday, but you won't find any of Holiday's cigarette-damaged angst coming through in her buttery voice. Born in Veracruz, Tona La Negra was part of Mexico's Afro-Mexican minority (hence the nickname), but that never seemed to hinder her career. In the 1930s and '40s she gained a huge following as she became a devoted interpreter of Augustin Lara's songs, bringing a jazzy, warm sensibility to his classic tracks. She also appeared in several Mexican films in supporting actress or musical guest roles.