With all the hubub of Christmas, this news of Lydia Mendoza's death escaped me. Amoeba carries her titles along with other great Tejano artists from Arhoolie label, just in case you've never heard of her and want to check out her music. Thanks to Billy Jam for this news item.
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
SAN ANTONIO (AP)
Lydia Mendoza, a Tejano music pioneer known as the Lark of the Border, died here on Thursday. She was 91. She had lived in the nursing home portion of the Chandler Estate, a retirement community. Her death was confirmed by her daughter Yolanda Hernandez.
Ms. Mendoza, who scored her first big hit, "Mal Hombre," in the 1930s, became one of the first Mexican-American superstars by singing to the poor and downtrodden. Her memorable musical style earned her a National Medal of Arts and a National Heritage Award fellowship. She was also asked to sing at Jimmy
Carter's inauguration in 1977.
Ms. Mendoza recorded more than 200 songs on more than 50 albums, including boleros, rancheras, cumbias and tangos, for labels including RCA, Columbia, Azteca, Peerless, El Zarape and Discos Falcon. In addition to pursuing a solo career, she also enjoyed performing with her family.
"Mal Hombre" (Evil Man), released in 1934 on the Bluebird label, became a hit on both sides of the border and was her signature song. Other hits included "La Valentina" and "Angel de Mis Anhelos."
She set the trend for others: Las Hermanas Cantu, Chelo Silva, Las Rancheritas and other women who followed Mendoza's lead in the world of Spanish music, said Lupe Saenz, executive director of the South Texas Conjunto Association. Mendoza will be remembered for her unique style of the 12-string guitar
and unique voice and style of singing.
Born in Houston, Ms. Mendoza learned to sing and play the 12-string guitar before she was 12, and later learned to play violin and mandolin. In 1928 her family landed a recording session at the Blue Bonnet Hotel in San Antonio with the Okeh label, which generated five singles.
In 1999 Ms. Mendoza received the National Medal of Arts at a White House ceremony in which she shared the stage with Aretha Franklin, the producer and director Norman Lear, the architect Michael Graves and the sculptor George Segal.
Lydia learned much from the oral tradition of Mexican music that her mother and grandmother shared with her, President Bill Clinton said at the time. In turn, she shared it with the world, becoming the first rural American woman performer to garner a large following throughout Latin America.
Mendoza, who was the guest of honor at a 2006 tribute concert in San Antonio, was also inducted into the Tejano Music Awards, Tejano Conjunto Festival and Texas Women halls of fame.
She is survived by her daughter. Two other daughters, Lydia Alvarado Davila and Leonor Salazar, died before her.