Everyone knows the face of Frida Kahlo. Now, we may finally know what she sounded like, following the discovery of what could be the only known recording of the great Mexican’s voice.
The recording discovered in Mexico’s national sound library, the Fonoteca National, could be the only known record of Kahlo speaking. “Frida’s voice has always been a great enigma, a never-ending search,” the director of the sound library, Pável Granados, told a press conference on May 12, the Guardian reports. “Until now, there had never been a recording of Frida Kahlo,” he added.
The tape was made for the pilot of El Bachiller, a radio program first aired in 1955, the year after the artist died, aged 47. It was discovered by archivists who are digitizing and preserving a collection donated by the late Mexican broadcaster and screenwriter Álvaro Gálvez y Fuentes.
In the recording, a voice believed to be Kahlo’s reads from her 1949 essay Portrait of Diego, in which she describes her husband, the Mexican muralist Diego Rivera. “He is a gigantic, immense child, with a friendly face and a sad gaze,” the woman reads, as translated from the original Spanish by Agence France Presse. The speaker is described as the female painter who is no longer living. Archivists believe the recording was likely made in 1953 or 1954.
Experts are now analyzing the audio to definitively determine whether it is, in fact, Kahlo speaking. Because of her fame, the artist’s voice is one of the “most requested and sought after” by library patrons, Granados said in a statement released by the Mexican government.
Although her image was captured in silent films and countless photographs—not to mention Kahlo’s remarkable self-portraits—this is the first time that a potential audio recording of the artist has been identified. The French photojournalist Gisèle Freund once described how Kahlo spoke. “Frida smokes, laughs, [and] speaks with a warm and melodious voice,” Freund recalled.
Listen to the audio below.
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