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Lydia Mendoza

Photo of Rosita Fernandez sculpture

“La Alondra de la Frontera” (“The Lark of the Border”) Lydia Mendoza became one of the best-known Spanish-language singers of the Texas-Mexico border region. Her music evoked cultural pride and spanned seven decades of performances and recordings. Born in 1916, she joined her family in performing songs and variety shows for the Tejano community at an early age. Her ability to sing and play the twelve-string guitar ultimately made her the family’s principal bread earner.

In the early 1930s, Mendoza and her family found work performing at Tejano business establishments, on the streets, and at the Plaza del Zacate. In 1934 Mendoza recorded four songs, including “Mal Hombre” (“Evil Man”) for Bluebird Records in San Antonio. "Mal Hombre" became the first of many hits she would record during her lengthy career. As Mendoza’s popularity grew, her performances were considered “magical and could awaken a populist frenzy and collective pride in Mexicans.” She toured with her family throughout the Rio Grande valley, performing as a soloist; her siblings sang as a group and performed a variety act.

Mendoza also became increasingly popular outside the United States through her regular tours to Mexico, Cuba, and Columbia, often playing to as many as 20,000 fans at a time. She went on to record hundreds of songs and some fifty albums in a career that ended only after she suffered a stroke in 1988.   -- from The Handbook of Texas.