Was Frida Kahlo’s Voice Captured on a Tape? Researchers Are Listening Again

A week ago, the Mexican government appeared to have made a landmark discovery in the art world: the country’s National Sound Library had unearthed what would be the first known audio recording of Frida Kahlo’s voice, an elusive aspect of the 20th-century artist that had at last been found.

Now, it seems they’re not so sure.

After several skeptics with ties to Kahlo came forward — and one voice actress claimed the voice might, in fact, be hers — the library released an additional statement on Wednesday saying that it was still investigating the identity behind the voice, adding that the debate surrounding the recording would help with the inquiry.

In the clip, a woman describes the artist Diego Rivera, who was married to Kahlo. The recording was heard on “The Bachelor,” a Mexican radio program in the 1950s, and was found in Televisa Radio’s archives.

The library’s initial statement when it released the recording June 12 wasn’t definitive, but said it was “probable” that the voice belonged to Kahlo. Alejandra Frausto, Mexico’s culture secretary, said in a news conference at the time that the library would continue working to confirm the voice was hers.

It is unclear what the library’s methodology was in attempting to verify the identity of the voice before the announcement was made. The library and the Frida Kahlo Museum in Mexico City did not respond on Thursday to requests for comment.

Rina Lazo, a painter who worked with Kahlo and Rivera for 10 years, said in an interview with the Mexico City newspaper La Jornada that the library brought her the recording last month and that she told them the voice was not Kahlo’s. A man who said he studied under Kahlo told Spanish news agency EFE that the recording differs from the “crystalline” voice he remembered.

One woman thinks the voice captured in the clip could be hers, the Mexican broadcaster Radio Fórmula reported Tuesday. Amparo Garrido — an actress who voiced the Spanish dialogue for “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” — told the station that she was “almost certain I recorded this.”

Garrido said she recorded several things with “The Bachelor,” and her son Eduardo Larumbe told Radio Fórmula that when he listened to the clip in question, “I immediately heard the voice of my mother.”

The National Sound Library said it has contacted Garrido with an invitation to help with the investigation, adding that it will give her credit if the voice is determined to be hers.

The library also said Wednesday that it will compare the recording to the voices of other female actors and speakers from the same time period, including Garrido, Evangelina Elizondo, Rita Rey, Carmen Manzano, Aurora Alvarado and Emma Telmo. The library’s director, Pável Granados, said in an interview with the Mexico City newspaper Excélsior that an audio expert from the University of California, Berkeley would assist with the investigation.

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