Blanca Rosa Rodríguez "Blanca Rosa"
Pioneer of Mexicana women in music
Blanca “Blanca Rosa” Rodríguez is a nationally renowned ranchera singer. She has toured the United States and Mexico, and in 2019 was honored as a National Heritage Fellow of the National Endowment of the Arts.
Rodríguez was born in San Antonio, Texas, in 1944. Raised in a family of musicians, she began singing at the age of five. At age 13, Rodríguez competed in her first performance at the Teatro Guadalupe where she won first place, which led to singing on KCOR radio and at Teatro Zaragoza. She toured the United States and Mexico, performing with groups like Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán, Mariachi América, Mariachi de Ramón Palomar, and Los Reyes de Jalisco. Rodríguez has also toured with singing stars like Amalia Mendoza, Charro Avitia, Vicente Fernández, José Alfredo Jiménez, and Juan Mendoza. Looking for a way to support her family as her career hit something of a lull, Rodríguez enrolled in the nursing program at the old Baptist Hospital downtown. She graduated as a licensed vocational nurse in 1968. She worked as a nurse, while also seizing every opportunity to perform or record, until her retirement in 2007.
At the urging of the Esperanza Peace and Justice Center, she joined other legendary Ranchera singers Rita “La Calandria” Vidaurri, Beatriz “La Paloma del Norte” Llamas, and Anita Janet “Perla Tapatía” Cortez to form the group Las Tesoros de San Antonio in 2008. They issued a CD in 2017, Qué Cosa Es el Amor, to coincide with the 30th anniversary of the Esperanza Center, which engineered their comeback. Their story was also featured in a 2016 documentary by filmmaker Jorge Sandoval, Las Tesoros de San Antonio: A Westside Story, which debuted at the Mission Marquee Plaza, site of the old Mission Drive-In Theatre in south San Antonio. In 2018, the group was honored with an exhibit at Texas State University. In 2019, the surviving members Blanca and Beatriz were honored as NEA National Heritage Fellows, the nation’s highest honor in folk and traditional arts. Subsequently, Las Tesoros were back home in San Antonio being recognized by the San Antonio Arts Commission and the City of San Antonio, in a ceremony at the Tobin Center, as 2019 Distinction in the Arts Honorees, for providing “enduring and effective cultural leadership” and “exceptional artistic accomplishments” in the San Antonio arts community. In addition to performing, Rodríguez is an active music teacher, instructing and coaching her students in singing techniques.