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Lydia Mendoza
La Alondra de la Frontera - Live!
Arhoolie CD 490

Lydia Mendoza first recorded in 1928 in San Antonio, and for 60 years, as a prominent voice of encouragement for working people of Mexican-American descent, she won devoted audiences in the United States, Mexico, Latin America and the Caribbean. This previously unreleased live solo performance was recorded in 1982, the same year Mendoza won the National Endowment for the Arts National Heritage Award. A vital addition to the Mendoza discography, it reveals her at her best, a powerful singer accompanying herself with characteristic expressiveness on 12-string guitar. Its 16 songs, presented in the order that she performed them for an admiring audience at the University of California, Berkeley, reveal Mendoza as an articulate, interactive raconteur, a singer of deliberate, polished artistry, and a wide-ranging repertoire, a woman of profound sentiment and resolute humanity. Mendoza has performed for Mexican and U.S. presidents, including Jimmy Carter at his 1977 inauguration. In 1991 the Tejano Music and Conjunto Music Halls of Fame inducted her, and in 1999 President Bill Clinton conferred the National Medal of Arts upon her at the White House. Health problems forced her retirement in 1988, but Mendoza, "the lark of the border" (as the CD is titled in Spanish) remains the most venerated and longest-performing female singer-guitarist of traditional Mexican music in the greater Southwest and Mexico, a true Pan American original. - Michael Stone


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