Tejano Music’s Lark and Queen

LydiaMendoza-Single-slideshowWith her 12-string guitar and unmistakable, soulful voice, (1916–2007)—whose career spanned seven decades—was one of the first and greatest stars of Tejano music. As a pioneer in this primarily Spanish-language genre of the Texas-Mexico borderlands, she gave a voice to Latinos throughout the Western Hemisphere.

Mendoza is not the first Tejano icon to appear on a U.S. postage stamp. In 2011, the Latin Music Legends Forever® stamps featured Selena (1971–1995), the wildly popular “Queen of Tejano.” Like Mendoza, Selena got her musical start at a young age, singing in a family band before breaking out as a solo performer. Her charisma and strong voice made her a dynamic entertainer.

Selena-Forever-single-v5Mendoza helped define the distinctive Tejano style—a combination of Mexican ranchera-style music mixed with German polka sounds—and Selena transformed it, integrating techno-hip-hop beats and disco-influenced dance moves. While most of her songs were sung in Spanish, Selena recorded a crossover album released after her death that was meant to appeal to new English-language audiences. Shortly after its release in 1995, Dreaming of You hit number 1 on the Billboard 200, immortalizing the singer as an international sensation.

Though their songs vary in sound and style, Lydia Mendoza and Selena were both important representatives of Latino culture in America. Their legacies live on in the musicians who continue to play in a genre that Selena modernized and Mendoza helped create.

Satisfy Your Choreographic Cravings With “A Century of Dance”

Our toes are tingling in anticipation of the new Innovative Choreographers (Forever®) stamps, and we have just the thing to help feed your need for dance!

The 32-page book will help you discover 100 years worth of dance in America. Illustrated with images of historic and great dance-makers of the 20th century, this gorgeous booklet is perfect for dance lovers. It also includes a collectible set of Innovative Choreographers (Forever®) stamps, featuring Isadora Duncan, José Limón, Katherine Dunham, and Bob Fosse. This book is the perfect addition to any collection and makes a great gift, too!

The Innovative Choreographers stamps, as well as dance-related philatelic products, will be issued on July 28 in Los Angeles, California. But you can pre-order yours today!

The Picasso of Jazz

Miles Davis was one of the most important musicians of his era. While beloved in many countries around the world, he is a particular favorite in France, where he performed frequently and was made a Chevalier in the Legion of Honor, roughly equivalent to being knighted. The French culture minister who presented the award on July 16, 1991, described Davis as “the Picasso of jazz.” The comparison is apt: Davis was a creative genius who changed the course of jazz multiple times during his career.

With his understated, lyrical playing and charismatic personal style, Davis became known as the embodiment of the “cool” aesthetic—but his talent on the trumpet was certainly hot. Davis made his first 16 known studio recordings before the age of 19, and for decades after was in the forefront of jazz musicians, setting trends and exploring musical styles from bebop through cool jazz, fusion, and funk.

The Miles Davis and Edith Piaf joint issue with France celebrates a lively musical conversation between nations. Issued in June, the commemorative stamps pay tribute to two groundbreaking artists who crossed international barriers with their music.

Name, image and likeness of Miles Davis with permission from Miles Davis Properties, LLC.

Happy 100th Birthday, Woody Guthrie!

America’s consummate folk singer, and the creator of our unofficial national anthem “This Land Is Your Land,” was born on this day in 1912.

Of the roughly 1,000 songs written by Guthrie, “This Land Is Your Land” surfaced as a beacon of promise during the lean years of the Great Depression. Writing the words, Guthrie invoked his travels across the United States, particularly through the far West. Since then, the song has taken on a life of its own, transcending political and social divisions and becoming emblematic of the ideal America.

The Woody Guthrie stamp was issued in 1998. Do you know the name of the stamp series to which it belonged?

Happy Bastille Day!

Happy Bastille Day, everyone! Otherwise known as French National Day, Bastille Day is celebrated every year on July 14 to commemorate the beginning of France’s historic revolution. On this date in 1789, revolutionaries stormed the Bastille fortress and prison in Paris. Since then, this day has come to symbolize Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité (Freedom, Equality, and Brotherhood) the world over.

In 1989, USPS joined France’s La Poste in issuing stamps that marked the 200th anniversary of the French Revolution. And just last month we teamed up again for a joint issuance that celebrates our shared cultural history—the Miles Davis and Edith Piaf (Forever®) stamps. Edith Piaf is one of few French popular singers to become a household name in the U.S.; the great American jazz trumpeter Miles Davis is beloved in France, where he performed frequently.

Davis was made a Chevalier in the Legion of Honor. He was also awarded the Grande Médaille de Vermeil by the city of Paris (the equivalent of making him an honorary citizen). Americans may know Edith Piaf best for her song “La Vie en Rose” (“Life in Pink”), about the experience of falling in love and seeing life through rose-colored glasses; the tune is still heard on the streets of Paris today.

This year, to celebrate Bastille Day, why not relax with some music by Miles Davis and Edith Piaf?

To see all USPS joint issues, including the 1986 Statue of Liberty and 1983 American Bicentennial with La Poste, visit Beyond the Perf.

Name, image and likeness of Miles Davis with permission from Miles Davis Properties, LLC.