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Soundtrack to a Life
When Gloria Trevi burst onto the music scene in 1989 with her debut album Que Hago Aqui (What Am I Doing Here?), she electrified young audiences and shocked the conservative Mexican Establishment to its core with her provocative lyrics, unabashed sexuality and unconventional behavior. Sold-out stadium concerts soon followed, as well as two popular films based on her life. She notoriously took the stage bare-chested, wearing a bandolier filled with condoms over her breasts, and inspired a generation of schoolgirls to emulate her wild hair and ripped tights. Her raw, taboo-busting music ruffled feathers in a traditionally Catholic culture, dealing with hot-button social issues including gender roles, domestic abuse, prostitution, poverty, drugs, class lines and religion.

Ehrenberg, who witnessed Trevi's dramatic downfall unfold from a distance, calls her life "a very Latin American melodrama." "Gloria Trevi was a trendsetter in important ways," the producer says. "She burst on the pop music scene and changed the rules, especially for women. She announced she wanted to run for president, which was incredibly brave at the time. Mexican culture is tradition bound. Her songs dealt with topics that were forbidden. Her irreverence and boldness made her a huge success and a role model for girls throughout Latin America."

Gloria includes performances of 11 of the star's most popular and iconic songs, each selected to help move the plot forward, making it a musical drama rather than a biopic with music, according to Keller.

"We really wanted to tell the story through the music, not stop the story for a musical performance," he explains. "One of the first things that Gloria told me was, 'If you want to know my story, just look at the lyrics of my songs.' At every point in her life, she wrote about what she was experiencing. The songs in the film complement Gloria's inner world, her thoughts and emotions. Instead of interrupting the plot, they support and drive the story line."

From her earliest days as a fledgling songwriter, Trevi's lyrics mark her as a woman who will not be ignored. "The song Dr. Psiquiatra is a great example of her attitude and the unique persona she cultivated," says Keller. "The first time she performed it on television was her breakout moment. No one had ever seen anything like that performance. Before Gloria, performers behaved as they were told to."

Another highlight from her debut album included in the film is the love song, Manana. "We called it our 'Disney Princess Love Song,'" says Keller. "Gloria is singing to Sergio about her love for him. She swears that she will conquer him."

The music also allows the filmmakers to demonstrate Gloria's burgeoning creative process, as she writes her songs. "We show Gloria composing El Recuentro de los Danos from the beginning," says Keller. "At first she works alone, then Sergio steps in to help her finish. Our goal was to show the symbiotic relationship between them. Ultimately, she performs it onstage when she is bidding farewell to her audience-perhaps to her career. When Gloria spoke to us about this moment, she started crying and singing the song. It was really emotional for her in the retelling."

The personal relationship between the pair is aptly illustrated in the lyrics of Con Los Ojos Cerrados, which include, "I believe him with my eyes closed, I believe him when he says he loves me, and I also believe the moon is made of cheese." "This represents the moment that Gloria starts to compromise herself for Sergio," Keller explains. "She wrote it after he told a journalist that she was an orphan who was brought up by prostitutes and raped as child, which was a lie. The lyrics are symbolic of where the relationship has taken her."

Keller's favorite song in the film is one of Trevi's signature numbers, Pelo Suelto (Loose Hair), a jubilant anthem about female empowerment. "I love that song," says Keller. "She is saying she will do as she pleases and say what she wants without caring what anyone else thinks, just like Gloria did in real life. It is about rebellion and doing what you believe in, which is the story of our film as well. A lot of people didn't believe this film would ever be made."

Also included are two songs that Keller describes as "just fun, like so much of Gloria's music," Que Bueno Que No Fui Lady Di! and Los Borregos; Chica Embarazada, a pro-contraception pop song, which was revolutionary in Mexico at the time; Como Nace El Universo, a song about the sun and the moon that is a metaphor for Gloria and Sergio's relationship and Amor Cavernícola, from Trevi's early days with Boquitas Pintados.

Acclaimed Mexican musician and studio ace Alvaro Arce produced all of Espinosa's musical numbers for the film, ensuring that the actress captured the essence of Trevi's singular performance style. "Sofia sang virtually everything in the film," says Keller. "Before her sessions with Alvaro, she had never sung professionally. He put her together with a vocal coach and they recorded the music in his home studio."

The filmmakers also relied on members of the band that backed Trevi up for over 20 years for advice and to record the music and appear in the film. "They answered a lot of our questions and really helped Sofia hone her performance, especially in the concert sequences," says Keller. "We really wanted her performance to be as close as possible to Gloria's. People are blown away when they learn it's not Gloria singing in the film."

The film's musical finale is a triumphant live performance by Trevi herself of her 2004 hit, Todos Me Miran. "That is the only song not recorded by Sofia," says Keller. "The song is very autobiographical, like all of Gloria's music. She is singing 'Everyone looks at me, because I do what few dare.' It captures all of her unique energy and strength and reminds us that she made herself a symbol of freedom for Mexican girls, breaking down the boundaries of tradition. And now, after all she's been through, she's back on top. It's the perfect way to end the film."


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