Ednita Nazario may be Puerto Rico’s most fabled and best-known diva. She’s also the country’s most private. Although known for her emotional shows and no-holds-barred stage persona, Nazario has always guarded her personal life fiercely. Until now, with the release of her memoir, Una vida (A Life), out on Penguin.
From choosing between love and career to the heartbreak of losing fame and money to a bad relationship, Nazario opened up to tell a truly untold story, one that had never made it into the thousands of interviews she’s given in a career that spans more than four decades.
“It was difficult to tell my story, not just the public one, which many know, but the other one, the one I’ve protected and shielded my whole life,” writes Nazario in the book’s prologue. “I’ve been pretty jealous about my privacy and the people who inhabit it.”
Full disclosure: I was the writer with Nazario on her book. And in the span of more than a year, I was constantly surprised by what she told me and what is now in the pages of her memoir.
Here are five big reveals from the book:
1. She had a secret true love: Ednita’s first true love was a Dominican medical student, who she simply calls “Jacky” (his real name is never divulged) and who broke up with her after seeing her perform live. The breakup crushed Nazario, who refused to give up her career. “It was a great life challenge,” she writes. “All of a sudden, I was faced with a great dichotomy: I was a woman in love, with dreams of having a family with the man I had adored since I was 16 years old, but a man who didn’t understand how much this career — which I had built with so much effort and dignity — meant to me. All of a sudden, I was facing this man — the man of my dreams — and he was saying: ‘What you do is not what I want.’”
2. She miscarried twice: The losses were devastating for Nazario. The first time, she was married to Argentine singer Laureano Brizuela, who stayed behind in Mexico as she lay in a hospital bed in Puerto Rico. “I spent five days in the hospital and never stopped crying […] I was deeply saddened to find out I was pregnant, only to lose my child — even though we weren’t looking for children at the time — and to see my relationship crumble. Why was this happening to me?”
3. She opens up about her failed marriage to Brizuela: Nazario for the first time delves into what, at the time, was a very public relationship, as both were singers. However, for decades she has remained mum about how the relationship dissolved. “Eight years after we got married, circumstances led me to end a relationship that was no longer a relationship.”
4. She lost everything, and rebounded, with help from her parents: After her marriage to Brizuela dissolved, Nazario returned to Puerto Rico, penniless. It’s a life chapter she had never touched before. “I returned to Puerto Rico, destroyed,” she writes. “Everything I had done before, all the songs I wrote, I got nothing from that, because I never dealt with money […] I went to live with my parents. And in an act of faith and unconditional love, they mortgaged their own home to help me.”
5. She admits to having suffered from depression: Following the death of her father, Nazario fell into a deep depression, flagged by her daughter Carolina. The experience was pivotal for Nazario. “It made me realize I was vulnerable, and human, like everyone else. It made me realize I also needed help and I needed to learn to ask for help.”
Coda: Nazario is happily married to her third husband, Luis Bonnet and is very close to her only daughter, Carolina, to whom she dedicated Una Vida.