Following the announcement of her retirement from live performance last month, Colombian folk music legend Totó la Momposina has released two new singles which dip into recordings from her musical archive, Iluminan Mi Sendero / Acompañala and Échale Salsita (with Asere). Both singles are now available on all digital platforms.
Totó la Momposina is one of the greatest and most loved artists we have worked with at Real World Records. It is appropriate and important to mark Totó’s retirement from the stage with music. These songs show that Totó is not only one of the greatest figures in Colombian music, but even now continues as a restless innovator.
In the 1980s Totó first performed at WOMAD festivals internationally. In 1993, we released La Candela Viva, which became a significant album in the story of Colombian music. In 2015, the album Tambolero was a reappraisal and reimagining of La Candela Viva, reconfirmed the power and beauty of her voice and music.
To celebrate Toto’s remarkable career we are working on a series of previously unreleased tracks in which we will explore her talent and influence, re-discover magical moments and look to the future.
The first of these singles, Iluminan Mi Sendero / Acompañala includes two tracks based on a recording Totó made in a studio in Paris back in 1996. ‘Acompañala’ is a song she wrote inspired by a moonlight stroll on the beach near the village of Rio Cedro on the Caribbean coast of Colombia.
Although a full band version of the song later appeared on the album Pacantó, the original idea for the song involved a collaboration with Guinean vocalist Djanka Diabate. Totó’s original demo session multitrack for this song was recently unearthed by her producer and manager John Hollis. He invited his Senegalese friend Moustapha Gueye to put down some guitar tracks alongside the women’s vocals.
Inspired by the beauty of Moustapha’s guitar playing and the joy of re-discovering Djanka’s voice, Totó shed tears and wanted to work with the track. Each time she heard it, Totó was drawn back to the beach, the waves, the night sky and a touching spoken word version began to emerge reflecting her experience of a loving presence she had felt that evening which resulted in the track ‘Iluminan Mi Sendero’.
The second of these singles, Échale Salsita, is a track by the Cuban band Asere featuring guest vocals by Totó. The recording is a celebration by the band of their long history with Totó, which began in 1996 when she first encountered them on a trip to Havana with John Hollis. Although the original purpose of their visit was to make a connection with Latin music legend Celina Gonzalez, one night they were invited out of the blue — an unexpected knock on the door of their guesthouse — by a young local music to listen to his band of musicians perform in the front room of a house in the Buenavista Playa neighbourhood.
Totó and John were blown away by the quality of the music performed by the band and impressed by their understanding of the ‘son’ tradition of their forefathers and the way in which they infused it with fresh energy and intelligent arrangements. Totó’s immediate reaction was to announce that her manager would be the first to bring them to Europe, and so began a 25-year relationship between Totó la Momposina and Asere. This recording of the classic ‘Échale Salsita’ began in 1998 (which is when Totó’s vocals were recorded) and was completed in 2021 when John and the band’s musical director Michel Padron revisited the track, adding a fuller arrangement which reflects the band in its current configuration.
Iluminan Mi Sendero / Acompañala and Échale Salsita are an Astar Artes Recordings production for Real World Records and are out now on all digital platforms. Profits from these releases will go towards supporting Totó in her retirement from live performance.
article posted by:Amanda Jones, Real World Records / WOMAD