Like many American children, many of my initial cultural experiences were mediated by Walt Disney. I’m thinking specifically of the film, The Three Caballeros, which I have always loved for its music and animation/live action sequences. Only later did I learn it was part of the studio’s almost-propagandistic effort to participate in the US government’s Good Neighboor policy of the time. Anyway, as a kid, my favorite part was the Bahia sequence where Donald Duck and José Carioca meet Aurora Miranda and sing an infectious samba about who has the best cookies. I was reminded about my love for that song, “Os Quindins de Yayá,” when it popped up again in the middle of Strictly Ballroom last night (Yes, I was watching that movie. As well as three or four others in an orgy of Christmas relaxation).
So, now I’m on a binge to learn more about the history of “Os Quindins de Yayá”: who originally composed it, and what Latin- and South- American artists have performed it over the years. Bring in the ethnomusicologists! Teh internets are revealing very little. Disney has never released a soundtrack for the movie. On the Strictly Ballroom soundtrack, the credited artist is Stanley Black. It also seems that Roberto Inglez (a Scotsman posing as a Latin American bandleader so that he could ride the Latin dance music craze of the 40s) also covered the tune. iTunes shows that Cuban songwriter Bola de Nieve has contributed a more rubato rendition. And in my favorite recent post, a passionate fan loved the music so much that he ripped it from the Disney VHS and posted for all to download and enjoy. So, the mystery of composer/original artist remains unsolved until I can talk to an expert. In the meantime, here is the original clip from the movie. Rock on!