Investigation Begins Into Supposed Voice of Frida Kahlo

Jun 15, 2019
6:15 PM

In this April 14, 1939 file photo, painter and surrealist Frida Kahlo, who was the wife of noted Mexican muralist Diego Rivera, poses at her home in Mexico City. Mexico’s National Sound Library said Thursday, June 13, 2019, that it has discovered what could be the first known audio recording of Frida Kahlo’s voice. (AP Photo/File)

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Frida Kahlo’s voice may have finally been unearthed, say researchers at Mexico’s National Sound Library.

Library officials say it would be the first record of the Mexican artist’s voice if confirmed.

The director of the Frida Kahlo Museum, Hilda Trujillo, told The Associated Press on Thursday that “there’s still a long way to go” to verify the voice in question.

“I personally think that the art world has to be very strict in its judgment and can’t rush to assumptions,” Trujillo said.

Investigations will involve sound library officials, engineers, audio experts and even still-living sources. Trujillo said she is optimistic that there are still “enough elements to do a rigorous analysis.”

The 90-second audio clip from a 1950s pilot episode of the Mexican radio program “The Bachelor” consists of a woman describing Kahlo’s former husband and painting partner, Diego Rivera.

“He’s a large child, massive, with a friendly face and sad look,” the woman’s voice says. “His bulging, dark, intelligent and big eyes are difficultly detained.”

Kahlo is not directly identified by the narrator, but her voice is introduced as “she who no longer exists.” Library officials estimate that the program was released in 1955 or 1956, a year or two after Kahlo died.

The voice is notable for its light and smooth tone, which contradicts previously held assumptions of the artist.

“I would have imagined that it would be a bit deeper and worn out,” Trujillo told AP. She noted that Kahlo was very sick at the end of her life and was a heavy smoker and drinker.

Pável Granados, director of the National Sound Library, said Wednesday in announcing the discovery of the recording that Kahlo’s voice has been one of the most sought after voices within the library’s archive, which contains 600,000 files.

He said researchers will try to confirm that the voice belongs to Kahlo by going through 1,300 more tapes from “The Bachelor.”