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Lydia Mendoza
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Musician
    (May 31, 1916-December 30, 2007)
    Born in Houston, Texas
    Tejano folk singer and guitarist
    Arguably the first star of recorded Spanish-language Norteno music
    Toured the US and Latin America throughout the 1930s, 40s and 50s
    Recorded over 1,200 singles and 50 LPs with numerous south TX labels over the course of her sixty year career
    Best known singles include 'Mal Hombre,' 'Collar de Perlas,' 'Mujer Paseada,' 'Ojitos Verdes,' 'Parajillo Barranqueno,' and 'Pero Hay Que Triste'
    Performed with La Familia Mendoza (1927 to 1940, 1945-1952); embarked on her solo career in 1934
    Prominently featured in the 1979 documentary on the border music genre, 'Chulas Fronteras'
    Her father managed her career.
    Her family probably forced her into show business.
    Her songs usually focused on two-timing lovers or failed relationships.
    She was nicknamed 'the Lark of the Border.'
    She liked to collect chewing gum wrappers with song lyrics printed on them.
    She has a shrine at a Del Bravo record shop in San Antonio.
    Her vernacular style of untrained singing endeared her to the working class, but hasn't aged well in available recordings.
    She claimed to have initially resisted attempts to get her a record deal, allegedly even asking 'who is going to come to hear me if they already have the record?'
    She has been called 'The Queen' and 'First Lady' of Tejano Music.
    Her stylistic ability to connect with the masses also earned her the title, 'Singer of the Poor.'
    She was the daughter of refugees who fled the Mexican Revolution for Texas.
    She started out performing with her family in the streets, to earn money for food.
    She was taught to sing and play stringed instruments from her mother and grandmother.
    She broke ground as a female musician, playing solos only with her guitar (women solo guitar acts, of any race, were extremely rare at the time).
    The release of her 'Mal Hombre' recording turned her into a recording star virtually overnight.
    She was the first Texan to receive the National Heritage Fellowship Lifetime Achievement award from the National Endowment for the Arts (1982).
    She was awarded the Medal of the Arts by the National Endowment of the Arts in Washington D.C. (1999).
    She was among the second group of recipients to be awarded the Texas Medal of Arts by the Texas Cultural Trust (2003).
    Her career was stunted in the eighties when she suffered a massive stroke. She was widowed twice.
    She performed for President Jimmy Carter at the John F. Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. (1975).
    She was featured on the Rounder Records' three-CD compilation of 'Global Divas,' alongside Patsy Cline, Edith Piaf, and Aretha Franklin.

Credit: BoyWiththeGreenHair


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