The Chris Strachwitz Collection

Lydia Mendoza Image Gallery

Lydia Mendoza was the first Queen of Tejano Music, with a recording career that began in 1928 and lasted more than 60 years. Known as “La Alondra de la Frontera” (the Lark of the Border), Lydia was revered as a voice of the working class and a masterful interpreter of songs. She was the first Texan to receive the National Endowment for the Arts National Heritage Fellowship, and was awarded the National Medal of Arts in 1999 by then-President Bill Clinton.

Born in Houston in 1916, Lydia Mendoza learned at a young age to play the 12-string guitar, touring the country with her family band. She scored her first hit in 1934 with “Mal Hombre,” a song that made her wildly popular on both sides of the border and became her signature hit. Lydia went on to record over 200 songs on more than 50 albums, in a long and varied career that lasted into the 1980s. She passed away in December 2007.

On May 15, 2013 the US Postal Service issued a postage stamp honoring Lydia Mendoza.

The following images are from the Frontera Image Archive and were collected and in some cases taken by Chris Strachwitz.

Statement on the passing of Chris Strachwitz

Arhoolie Records Founder
July 1, 1931 – May 5, 2023

We celebrate the life of our founder, friend, and great record man Chris Strachwitz. He died peacefully at home in Marin County, CA, surrounded in his last days by dear friends and family. Over his 91 years, Chris captured the music that represents the best “down home music” the world has to offer.

He was at the forefront of nearly all the roots revivals over the last 60 years including blues, zydeco, Cajun, Norteño and Tejano music. His drive to document traditional music helped introduce the nation to our diverse musical heritage. He had the foresight to save music that might have otherwise been lost to obscurity and played a role in strengthening cultural traditions through his records, films, and most recently the Arhoolie Foundation. He cared for those around him, fought for royalties and recognition for Arhoolie artists, and provided counsel to countless musicians, writers, film makers, and academics.

Plans for a public celebration of his life will be announced in the coming weeks. Today we’re thinking of all that Chris brought to our lives and the lives of the musicians and fans with whom he shared his passion.