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Sylvia Rexach (January 22, 1922 – October 20, 1961), was a comedy scriptwriter, poet, singer and composer of boleros .

Sylvia Rexach
Sylvia RexachA1.jpg
Rexach was the founder of the "Las Damiselas", the first Combo in Puerto Rico consisting entirely of women.
Background information
BornJanuary 22, 1922
San Juan, Puerto Rico
DiedOctober 20, 1961
San Juan, Puerto Rico
Occupation(s)Comedy scriptwriter, poet, singer and composer


Early yearsEdit

Rexach was born and raised in Santurce, Puerto Rico. Her parents were Julio E. Rexach of Fajardo, and María Teresa González, of San Juan, Puerto Rico. There she attended public school and received her primary education. She then went to a private school where she finished her secondary education before attending the Central High School of Santurce. During her high school years, when she was 14 years old, she wrote several poems which were to become part of her musical compositions. She amazed her teachers when she composed "Di, Corazón" (Tell me, Heart) and "Matiz de Amor" (Calm Love). Rexach also learned how to play musical instruments, such as the guitar, the piano and the saxophone at a young age.[1]

World War IIEdit

Rexach enrolled in the University of Puerto Rico where she was going to take a pre-legal course; however, when the United States entered World War II in 1942, Rexach dropped-out of the university and joined the United States Army as a member of the WACS (Women Army Corps Service), where she served as an office clerk.[1][2]

Post WW IIEdit

After the war, Rexach was discharged from the armed forces. She married William Riley with whom she had three children which included actress/singer Sharon Riley.[3] The marriage eventually ended in a divorce and she returned to Puerto Rico, where she went to work for a radio station as a comical script writer, first for producer Tommy Muñiz, and later for comedian Ramón Rivero "Diplo". She was the founder of the first Combo in Puerto Rico consisting entirely of women. They were named Las Damiselas (The Damsels), and besides Rexach included: Idalia Rosario, Marta Romero, Millita Quiñones, Elena Rita Ortiz, and Ketty Cabán.[1]

Singing careerEdit

In 1951, Rexach had a newspaper column called "A Sotto Voce" where she was a music critic.[1] She was also a co-founder of The Puerto Rican Society of Authors, Composers and Music Editors (Sociedad Puertorriqueña de Autores, Compositores y Editores de Música).[1] She was its Secretary Director, a position which held until the day of her death.[4]

The tones of Rexach's compositions varied from the soft and romantic to the harsh and tormented. Among her compositions that became hits in Puerto Rico and abroad were: "Alma Adentro" (Inner Soul, actually a homage to a brother who died in an accident), "Idilio", "Olas y Arenas" (Waves and Sands), "Mi Versión" (My Version), "Nave sin Rumbo" (Wandering Ship), "Di, Corazón" and "Matiz de Amor". She even wrote a humorous novelty song, "Cuchú cuchía", which features Rafael Hernández Marín as a co-composer.[4]

Sylvia Rexach, was an alcoholic at the time of her death October 20, 1961, in San Juan, Puerto Rico.[5] Her death certificate states the cause as an intestinal obstruction, complicated by a duodenal atresia.[6]


Her compositions have been recorded by many other artists, such as Marco Antonio Muñiz, Danny Rivera, Gilberto Monroig, Chucho Avellanet, Lucecita Benítez, Juan Luis Barry, Linda Ronstadt, Ednita Nazario, Lourdes Pérez and Lunna. Two television specials were made about Sylvia's life, "Sylvia, en tu Memoria" (Sylvia, in your Memory) and Ángela Meyer's "El fondo del Dolor" (In the Deepest Pain) starring Sharon Riley, Sylvia's daughter.[1]

In 2001, Rexach was posthumously inducted into the International Latin Music Hall of Fame.[7] There is a theater "El Teatro Sylvia Rexach" named after Rexach in San Juan [8] and in the Luis A. Ferre Center of Fine Arts, there is a Sylvia Rexach Cafe Theater.[9]

On May 29, 2014, the Legislative Assembly of Puerto Rico honored 12 illustrious women who by virtue of their merits and legacies stand out in the history of Puerto Rico with plaques in the "Plaza en Honor a la Mujer Puertorriqueña" (Plaza Honoring Puerto Rican Women) in San Juan. Rexach was among those honored.[10]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Fundación Nacional para la Cultura Popular | San Juan, Puerto Rico: Sylvia Rexach. Publicado el 6 de julio de 2014" (in Spanish). Retrieved January 1, 2017.
  2. ^ Punto Fijo Archived 2012-09-13 at
  3. ^ Santiago, Javier (September 25, 2009). "Sharon Riley". Biografías (in Spanish). Fundación Nacional para la Cultura Popular.
  4. ^ a b La Fundación Nacional para la Cultura Popular
  5. ^ Dávila Gonçalves, Michele C. (June 2009). "Pop-culture en la literatura puertorriqueña contemporánea" (PDF) (in Spanish). 2009 Congress of the Latin American Studies Association: 14.
  6. ^ Sylvia Rexach death certificate
  7. ^ Solá, Vicki (December 1, 2000). "A Bite from the Apple". Latin Beat Magazine. Archived from the original on November 6, 2012.
  8. ^ Teatro Sylvia Rexach
  9. ^ "Nuestras facilidades" (in Spanish). Centro de Bellas Artes Luis A. Ferré. Archived from the original on 2011-08-23.
  10. ^ La Mujer en nuestra historia