Other Free Encyclopedias » Brief Biographies » Biographies: Barbara Barbieri McGrath (1953–) Biography - Personal to Fridtjof Nansen (1861–1930) Biography » Lydia Mendoza: 1916—: Tejano Vocalist, Songwriter Biography - Learned Song From Gum Wrapper, Feared Records Would Cut Demand, Married Second Shoemaker

Lydia Mendoza: 1916—: Tejano Vocalist, Songwriter - Feared Records Would Cut Demand

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Word of her popularity reached Victor Records executive Eli Oberstein, who had spearheaded an effort to record and market the music of working-class Americans and had sent engineers around the country to make recordings of popular local groups. In 1934 La Familia Mendoza cut six sides at a studio Victor had set up in a small San Antonio hotel. Lydia made six more recordings as a solo vocalist. Again Mendoza was reluctant to record. "Who is going to come to hear me if they already have the record?" she recalled wondering in Lydia Mendoza: A Family Autobiography. Her fears were quickly dissipated as her recordings, released on Victor's Bluebird subsidiary, spread her fame far and wide. "Mal hombre" eventually became a song known in much of the Spanish-speaking Americas, and the Mendoza family became a guaranteed draw at small theaters and variety shows wherever Mexican Americans were found in the western United States.

Mendoza married a San Antonio shoemaker, Juan Alvarado, in 1935; at first Alvarado, pressured by his family, opposed Mendoza's musical career, but the rapidly-growing income from her performances convinced him to set his objections aside. Mendoza, accompanied by her guitar and sometimes in combination with other family members or other musicians, recorded over 220 songs between 1934 and 1940 in San Antonio. Many of them were works she composed herself. She also made several recordings in Monterrey for Victor's Mexican arm. Her name was often spelled "Lidya" on recordings and posters. It was during this period that Mendoza became known as "La alondra de la frontera," although she was unable to recall who coined the term.

Having three daughters did not slow Mendoza down, but the rationing of gasoline during World War II put an end to the family's touring. The Mendoza family reformed itself as a performing organization after the war, however, and a fresh new wave of Lydia Mendoza recordings began to appear. Although fashions in tejano music had begun to change as more elaborate backing groups began to replace the small string ensembles of her younger days, Mendoza remained as beloved as ever. The family group finally dissolved in 1952 with the marriage of Mendoza's younger sister María (who had performed with another sister, Juanita, as Las Hermanas Mendoza) and the death of Mendoza's mother.


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