Cancion mixteca (Song from the Mixteca Region)

José López Alavez, 1912–15

Who are the Mixtecos, and what is Mixteca? What is the Mexican Revolution?

"Cancion Mixteca" is considered by many to be an unofficial national anthem of Oaxaca. What makes it a good anthem?

What is meant by "immense nostalgia"? Have you ever felt immense nostalgia?

What does the image of "a leaf in the wind" convey to you?

How might this song take on different meanings to Mexican Americans in the United States, as opposed to Mexicans in Oaxaca?


"Cancion Mixteca" recorded by Lola Beltrán on A 10 Años....un Recuerdo Permanente, Available on iTunes, Spotify, and YouTube.

Lola Beltrán ( 1932–96) was a Mexican recording artist, actress, and television presenter.

Internationally renowned, Beltrán sang before many world leaders and therefore is considered today as one of Mexico's most acclaimed ranchera singers. She was often nicknamed Lola la Grande ("Lola the Great").

View the music and lyrics for "Cancion Mixteca."

Cover for "Cancion Mixteca."

José López Alavez (1889–1974) was a Mixtec songwriter born in the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca. The Mixtecos are an indigenous minority community in Oaxaca, and "Cancion Mixteca" is his ode to his people and home. Alavez wrote the melody (but not the lyrics) for "Cancion Mixteca" in 1912 when he was a student at the National Conservatory of Mexico. He wrote the lyrics three years later, when his participation in the Mexican Revolution (1910–20) took him far from his homeland. The song expresses his homesickness.

In 1918 the song won first prize in a popular-song contest sponsored by the newly formed newspaper El Universal, which was founded in 1916 to cover the conclusion of the Mexican Revolution. Considered to be almost a national anthem, this song reflects Mexican national pride both in Mexico and in México de afuera (Mexico outside of Mexico). To those outside Mexico, it expresses the nostalgia and sadness that many experience after being separated from their homeland.

"Cancion Mixteca" has been performed by notable Mexican musicians, such as Lola Beltrán, Antonio Aguilar, Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán, Pedro Vargas, and Lila Downs. The recording by Lola Beltran reflects the traditional Mexican ranchera style, so-called for its origins on ranches in rural Mexico. More recently it has been recorded by Ry Cooder.