Linda Ronstadt Opens Up on How Mexican Heritage Influenced Her Country Music Career

by Clayton Edwards

Linda Ronstadt started singing professionally in 1967 and retired in 2011. A brain disorder called progressive supranuclear palsy forced Ronstadt to retire. It robbed her of her ability to sing or play an instrument. However, she had a long career that was both successful and varied. She sang in several different genres including pop, rock, opera, and country. During that time she also picked up a stack of awards including 11 Grammy Awards, 2 ACM Awards, and three American Music Awards just to name a few.

Last year, her 1987 album of traditional Mexican folk music called Canciones de Mi Padre (Songs of My Father) earned a place in the Grammy Hall of Fame.

Recently, Linda Ronstadt did an interview with Closer Weekly. During that interview, they discussed her career, upbringing, family, and retirement. At one point, she talked about how her Mexican heritage helped to shape her as a singer and performer.

Linda Ronstadt On Her Mexican Heritage

The conversation about Linda Ronstadt’s Mexican heritage started when the interviewer asked her what advice she would give herself if she could go back in time. Ronstadt said she would tell herself to spend more time learning and practicing Mexican music. About Mexican folk music, she said, “I feel I didn’t really start to sing well until after I had done Mexican music. It really gave me the whole gift of rhythm.”

Linda Ronstadt only started singing traditional Mexican music professionally later in her life. However, she grew up on it. The interviewer wanted to know if she was aware of her Mexican heritage as a child.

Linda Ronstadt replied, “Oh, completely. I thought Spanish was a language you sang in and English was the language you spoke in.” She added that plenty of the adults in and around her home spoke fluent Spanish. However, they never taught it to the children. This was so the adults could have a “language of privacy.” It allowed them to have adult conversations in front of the kids without worrying about what they would hear.

Christmas time looked different for Linda Ronstadt, too. About that, the Arizona native said, “We had Mexican foods, tortillas, and tamales, at Christmas time.”

Linda Ronstadt went on to say that she never tried to hide or downplay her Mexican heritage as a child. There was no need. “Arizona,” she said, “used to be a big part of Mexico, so there was Mexican culture there.” She went on to say that she was born just an hour away from the border. Back then, she added, crossing the border was easy. So, she and her family would go to Mexico to have lunch with friends or to attend other events.

This immersion in Mexican culture allowed Linda Ronstadt to sing the songs on Canciones de Mi Padre with all of her heart. As a result, it now sits among other landmark albums in the Grammy Hall of Fame.