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Houston Breakthrough, Vol. 3, No. 7, September 1978
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Houston Breakthrough, Vol. 3, No. 7, September 1978 - Page 3. September 1978. Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries. University of Houston Digital Library. Web. September 21, 2020. https://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist/item/1164/show/1157.

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

(September 1978). Houston Breakthrough, Vol. 3, No. 7, September 1978 - Page 3. Houston and Texas Feminist and Lesbian Newsletters. Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries. Retrieved from https://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist/item/1164/show/1157

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

Houston Breakthrough, Vol. 3, No. 7, September 1978 - Page 3, September 1978, Houston and Texas Feminist and Lesbian Newsletters, Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries, accessed September 21, 2020, https://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist/item/1164/show/1157.

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

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Title Houston Breakthrough, Vol. 3, No. 7, September 1978
Publisher Breakthrough Publishing Co.
Date September 1978
Subject.Topical (LCSH)
  • Women
  • Periodicals
  • Feminism--United States--Periodicals
  • Newsletters
Subject.Geographic (TGN)
  • Houston, Texas
Genre (AAT)
  • periodicals
Language English
Type (DCMI)
  • Text
  • Image
Original Item Location HQ1101 .B74
Original Item URL http://library.uh.edu/record=b2332724~S11
Digital Collection Houston and Texas Feminist and Lesbian Newsletters
Digital Collection URL http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist
Repository Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries
Repository URL http://info.lib.uh.edu/about/campus-libraries-collections/special-collections
Use and Reproduction Educational use only, no other permissions given. Copyright to this resource is held by the content creator, author, artist or other entity, and is provided here for educational purposes only. It may not be reproduced or distributed in any format without written permission of the copyright owner. For more information please see UH Digital Library Fair Use policy on the UH Digital Library About page.
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Title Page 3
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File Name femin_201109_543c.jpg
Transcript La Alondra de la Frontera SffV by Barbara Karkabi Lydia Mendoza, La A londra de la Frontera (the lark of the border), has been called the major interpreter of the traditional music of the Rio Grande Valley Musica Nortenas. The 62-year old woman lives with her husband in a simple home in the Heights, not far from where she and her seven brothers and sisters were born. As Mendoza explains it, Musica Nortenas evolved at the turn of the century when the Spanish-speaking people of the Texas-Mexican border region came into contact with the music of the Bohemians and Germans who settled there in the late 1800's. Mendoza learned these old Mexican rancheros, boleros and ballads from her mother, in the age-old oral tradition. To this day she cannot read music and has never received a formal education of any kind. "Girls just didn't go to school in those days," she says, "but it was acceptable for me to sing and play the guitar." Mendoza was allowed to develop her talents largely because of her mother's persistence. "My mother encouraged all of her children to do what she had never been allowed to do. She was the teacher of all of us." Her mother could have been a great artist, Mendoza believes, but she grew up in Mexico where she was not allowed to develop her talents fully. Life became easier for her after she married Mendoza's father, who was also musically involved. They would sit around the house for hours, playing the guitar and singing. "There was always music in my house," Mendoza remembers. Although Mendoza modestly refuses to acknowledge that she is a natural talent, she does admit that her career started at the age of four. By seven she was playing the guitar and at nine, she had perfected her skills. In later years, she learned to play the violin and the mandolin. The same modesty Mendoza uses when discussing her talents extends to what has been called the "unique Mendoza sound," produced by her 12-string guitar. "It was really accidental," she recalls, "when my father bought me my first guitar from a pawn shop, I rearranged the strings myself. I just preferred the sound and it has stuck with me all my life." Her first performance was at the age of 12 and even though it was before a group of friends gathered for her father's birthday, she remembers feeling extremely shy. "But, somehow I knew that performing Mai Hombre was the first of many hits for Lydia Mendoza and from that point on, her fame grew rapidly. "I always knew I was going to be an artist, but I never imagined I would reach such a level of fame and I'm happy about it." For the first part of her career, Mendoza sang and travelled primarily with her family. Lydia Mendoza y Familia became a household name to many Mexicans. But, after her mother died and her sisters married, she was on her own and it was by herself that she achieved her greatest triumphs. "Girls just didn't go to school in those days, but it was acceptable for me to sing and play the guitar." was going to be my life, so I tried to forget my fears and imagine that I was singing before a great audience." It was years before Mendoza lost this shyness. Even after she became famous she would put her head down while singing and not look at the audience. She laughs when she remembers the rumors, started years ago by a journalist, that she was blind. Nowadays, although she has gotten over her fears and laughs and jokes with her audiences, she still holds her head close to the guitar, often laying her cheek on it while she sings. "I do this because I feel very close to my guitar. I want to speak to it and let my voice penetrate it." In 1931 the Mendoza family moved to San Antonio, where Lydia's career really began. She started to sing at festivals and in 1933, at the age of 17, won several talent contests, which led to her cutting, at 18, her first record, Mai Hombre. Mendoza has performed in every city in the United States that has a Mexican- American population. But there are two performances over the years that she remembers with special fondness. The first was in 1937 when her performance at the Mason Opera Theatre in Los Angeles broke all attendance records. The crowds that came to hear her sing literally overflowed the four-story theatre, she remembers. The second date was in 1950 when she travelled to Chihuahua, Mexico. She remembers that the people lined the streets cheering and throwing flowers at her. "I had never been greeted like that. For the first time I felt like a public person." Although she has been famous most of her life, Mendoza's fame has brought her very little money. It wasn't until 1962 that she began to get royalties from her albums. She remembers one three-day performance for which she earned $1500 but actually received only $500 from her agent. Mendoza never really cared about the money. She did what she most loved to do, and was happy that people like it. "I came from a poor family and I've had my good times and my bad times, but my life has been-happy. God has given me everything I ever asked for. All I want now is to see my daughters and my grandchildren grow up." Admitting that she is a romantic, Mendoza says the old Mexican love songs remain her favorite pieces, but she sings whatever the audiences request. Recently they have been asking for corridas, songs connected to history and based on parti cular wars or heroes. Mendoza is not poli tically active, believing that an artist should be above politics and also that "everybody is treated the way they be have." But one of her favorite corridas is the classic Joaquin Murieta, which tells the story of a Mexican in the California gold rush days who cannot prospect or farm in peace because of harassment from a group of Anglo vigilantes. He becomes a widely feared bandit, gathering a gang of 70, but he is eventually betrayed, captured and killed. Murieta's legend has become the subject of scholarly works, a play and this popular classic corrida. Lydia Mendoza's career has spanned 44 years during which she has recorded 50 albums and countless singles and appeared in a documentary film, Chulas Front eras. At an age when most people think of retiring, Mendoza is planning more performances and talking about her album of original recordings that will be released soon. As part of Hispanic Arts Month in Houston, Mendoza will sing at Dudley Recital Hall, University of Hous ton, on September 15, 7-10 P.M. She smiles gently when retirement is mentioned, "I just can't stop singing. I love music so much that I will never stop singing until I die." Special thanks to interpreter Nabila Cronfel Staff Paid-Does not apply Unpaid—Jody Blazek, Janice Blue, Gabrielle Cosgriff, Nabila Cronfel, David Crossley, Anita Freeman Davidson, Patsy Dozier, Marilyn Marshall Jones, Barbara Karkabi, Marianne Warfield Kostakis, Paula Leone, Gary Allison Morey, Virginia Myers, Loretta Standard, Jerry Tipps, Kathleen Williamson. Cover photograph by Marilyn Marshall Jones. Second-class postage paid at Houston, Texas. Houston Breakthrough is published monthly (except for the bi-monthly issues of July- August and December-January) by the Breakthrough Publishing Company, 1708 Rosewood, Houston, TX 77004; P.O. Box 88072, Houston, TX 77004; Tel. 713/526-6686. Subscriptions are $7 per year, newsstand 75 cents per copy. This publication is on file at the International Women's History Archive in the Special Collections Library, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL 6020L HOUSTON BREAKTHROUGH SEPTEMBER