Concha Michel sang duets with Frida Kahlo, performed for John D. Rockefeller, modeled for Diego Rivera, and traveled the world supported only by her voice and her guitar. The present Doodle by Mexico-based guest artist Emilia Schettino celebrates the life of the Mexican musician, folklorist, and activist Concha Michel.
Born in Villa de Purificación, Jalisco, on this day in 1899, Concepción Michel was depicted as “ungovernable” as a child yet fell in love with music early, learning to sing and play guitar at a Catholic convent founded by her grandfather.
Known for her indigenous Mexican attire, Michel wore embroidered dresses with braided hair in the style of Mexico’s Tehuana women. She traveled all through Mexico learning traditional songs and singing her very own corridos revolucionarios or revolutionary ballads, getting to be one of the few women singing this traditional Mexican form at the time.
Amid the 1930s she traveled to the United States where she performed at the Museum of Modern Art and the Rockefeller’s grand home. Continues of her performances paid for trips to Europe and the Soviet Union, where she met women’s thinkers like Clara Zetkin and Alexandra Kollontai.
In 1950, she established the Folklore Institute in Morelia, Michoacán, some portion of a lifelong exertion to preserve Mexico’s indigenous culture. As she place it in her autobiography, “The world was my university; my graduation, voluntary. My experience was direct, confirmed by life.”