While waiting for a flight at an airport earlier this year, Erika Vidrio went to a bookstore to kill time. While window-shopping, the regional Mexican singer-songwriter spotted a book that caught her attention: Los Sueños de La Niña de la Montaña.
“I started reading the description and it described this woman named Eufrosina Cruz as ‘the Zapotec activist who changed the Mexican constitution.’ I was like, wow I’ve never heard of her,” Vidrio remembers. So she bought the book, read almost all of it during her flight and finished it when she got home. Right after, she picked up her guitar and started writing Cruz her very own corrido. “I was inspired by Eufrosina’s story. I finished writing the corrido in 40 minutes,” she says.
The book centered on Eufrosina Cruz’s work as a Zapotec activist who has relentlessly fought for gender equality and the rights of indigenous communities. In 2010, she became the first indigenous woman in Oaxacan politics, and guaranteed indigenous women the right to exercise their vote.
“There are so many corridos about men who haven’t done sh–, so I couldn’t believe that no one had ever written Eufrosina her very own corrido,” says Vidrio, who took it upon herself to write “La Niña de la Montaña” narrating Cruz’s life story. After writing it, she tapped corridos artist Lili Zetina and newcomer Sandra Padilla to sing it with her.
“For three women to sing this song to another woman, that’s really powerful,” says Padilla. “We’re also women who are trying to achieve our dreams and goals and Eufrosina is an inspiration.” Adds Zetina, “I didn’t know Eufrosina’s story but when Erika explained, I was really impacted. It’s really beautiful and it’s a cause I wanted to get behind.” According to Vidrio, the song’s royalties will go toward Cruz’s foundation dedicated to empower indigenous women and fund school scholarships.
Cruz’s efforts to make indigenous women more visible in her country, reflects a similar plight women in regional Mexican are forced to take on as the genre continues to be dominated by men. “Being a woman who sings corridos, the humiliation is still as strong as when I started,” shares Zetina. “But there is some progress. Men now reach out to me to write and sing corridos with me, that’s when I know, ok I’m doing something right here. There is no impossible.”
Adds Vidrio, “I don’t want to victimize myself. Instead, I want to focus on collaborating with other women, checking in on them. We can help each other out in order to be more visible. What Eufrosina was able to do, a lot of us women in the genre are trying to do; to open doors for ourselves and have the same opportunities as men do.”
“La Niña de la Montaña” is the first single from Vidrio’s upcoming Las Compositoras Vol. 2. Padilla and Zetina are also currently working on new music.