Who Was María Grever? Google Doodle Celebrates Mexican Composer

Google Doodle celebrates María Grever, the Mexican singer and songwriter thought to be one of the country's greatest composers, on February 11. On this day in 1938, Grever recorded "Ti-Pi-Tin," which became one of her biggest hits.

She was born María Joaquina de la Portilla Torres in León, central Mexico, in the late 19th century. Her mother was Mexican and her father was Spanish and, as a child, she moved to Seville, Spain, where she studied English, French and music.

Grever's musical talent became apparent early on. She is said to have composed a holiday carol for her school at the age of four, according to The New York Times, an achievement that persuaded her father to hire composers Claude Debussy and Franz Lehár to tutor her.

María Grever Google Doodle
Mexican composer María Grever is celebrated in a February 11 Google Doodle—the anniversary of the day she recorded the song "Ti-Pi-Tin." Google Doodle

As a child, Grever loved performing, telling The Brooklyn Daily Eagle in 1947: "I was always play-acting. I used to wrap myself up in my mother's veils and recite things. They were always tragedies. I was an orphan left lonely by the sea."

The musician traveled around Europe with her family before returning to Mexico. Her sister later married an American, whose best man was Leo A. Grever, an oil company executive. María and Grever were married four days after her sister's wedding.

Her first record "A Una Ola" or "To a Wave" was released in 1912 and sold millions of copies. It was covered by numerous singers. Her later songs were covered by artists such as Placido Domingo, Aretha Franklin and Frank Sinatra.

The composer moved to New York in 1916, where she composed music for movies, working for Paramount Pictures and 20th Century Fox. Grever also continued to create music that combined folk rhythms with styles such as tango.

Her biggest hits include "Júrame" or "Promise, Love" in 1926 and "What a Difference a Day Makes"—originally "Cuando Vuelva a Tu Lado"—in 1934. In 1959 Dinah Washington won a Grammy for her version of "What a Difference a Day Makes."

Grever is thought to have composed hundreds of songs and worked tirelessly, telling The Brooklyn Daily Eagle: "My family once insisted that I must rest. I tried. I remained in bed. Then my blood pressure went up. The doctor said: 'Let her get up and work and she will be well again.'"

In 1952, Grever was named Woman of the Americas by the Union of Women of the Americas, in recognition of her contribution to music.

Google Doodle says: "Thanks for all the music María Grever; it continues to strike a chord with listeners around the world today!"