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Texas Women's History Month: The Lark Of The Border

Lydia Mendoza — known as “La Alondra de la Frontera,” or the lark of the border — was one of the most talented and popular and talented musicians in the history of Tejano music. Mendoza was born in Houston into a musical family of Mexican immigrants in 1916. She performed on the streets with her family’s band, which won an audition in San Antonio for OK Records in 1928.


The family recorded 20 songs for the label for $140. To survive, the family was forced to travel to Michigan as migrant farm workers. But by the 1930s, the Mendozas had returned to San Antonio and continued performing, earning just enough money for rent and food.


In 1934, Mendoza recorded what would become her signature song, “Mal Hombre,” or Evil Man, for Bluebird Records. It became a hit, and she traveled extensively both with her family and solo. She became particularly famous along the Texas-Mexico border for her soulful singing voice and mastery of the 12-string guitar.


Medoza performed at President Jimmy Carter’s inauguration. She won numerous awards, including the National Medal of Arts and inclusion in the Tejano Hall of Fame and the Texas Women’s Hall of Fame.


This month, KUT is partnering with the Ruthe Winegarten Foundation to celebrate Women's History Month. Every day, we'll bring you a short feature spotlighting a historic woman, movement, or group of women in Texas.