Orishas in Music

Thu, May 8, 2008

Traditional Afrikan

Orishas in Music

This lists recordings of traditionally performed Orisha-religion music as well as “secular” songs celebrating, praising or even mentioning the Orishas, and includes material from African, North American, Afro-Cuban, African-American, and Brazilian performers. This list is undoubtedly far from complete. Some material from related (esp. Vodou) traditions is also listed. <strong>Revised December 1995.</strong>

+ Recording featuring primarily traditional Orisha songs performed in a traditional manner.
Recording featuring primarily nontraditional interpretations of traditional Orisha songs.
§ AfroCuban, Latin, Brazilian or African music with significant Orisha-religion content.
ø Secular Latin/AfroCuban/Brazilian/African recording featuring small number of Orisha-related songs. Includes salsa, latin jazz, samba, etc.
Æ Non-Orisha tradition recording featuring a small number of Orisha-related songs.
_ Recording featuring traditional songs outside but related to Orisha religion.
# Multi-artist compilation.
* Inferior packaging with minimal recording information or credits. In many cases suggests also inferior recording quality.
© Cassette only.
O/P Recording known to be out of print.

Unless noted all information is for Compact Discs.

This is not an offer to sell, buy, trade, or record copies.

ø Xiomara Alfaro, Lamento Borincano: Lo Mejor de Xiomara Alfaro Vol. 2, BMG Tropical 1993. Featuring “Drume Negrita” from 1958.

+ John Amira, The Music of Santería: The Oru del Igbodu, White Cliffs Media 1994. 32 instrumental cuts of batá drumming to many, many Orishas.

§ Ase Drumming Circle, Souls A’Gathered, Tu Spearitz Records (NYC) 1994. All women’s percussion and singing group. Includes title cut dedicated to Egungun, “Oshun’s House,” “Shangoya!,” “The Circle,” etc.

ø Ray Barretto, Indestructible, Fania 1973. Includes “El Hijo de Obatalá.”

+* Candita Batista y sus Tambores Bata, Ritmo de Santo, Maype, undated. 1950s(?) era songs, including 6 chants.

ø Mario Bauzá and his Afrocuban Jazz Orchestra, My Time Is Now, Messidor 1993. With Rudy Calzado and Milton Cardona. Featuring “Ifá.”

ø Maria Bethania, A Arte de Maria Bethania, Polygram 1988. Includes “Iansã,” “Oração de Mãe Menininha,” “Filhos de Gandhi.”

ø Maria Bethania, Canto do Pajé/Song of the Shaman, Polygram 1990. Featuring “Awó/Inhansã.”

ø Angela Bofill, Angel of the Night, Arista 1979 (o/p). Featuring “The Voyage” praising Yemayá.

_ Boukman Eksperyans, Vodou Adjae, Mango 1991. Haitian Vodou pop.

_ Boukman Eksperyans, Kalfou Danjere/Dangerous Crossroads, Mango 1992. Vodou-inspired Haitian pop.

ø Leci Brandão, Comprometida, Copacabana (Brazil) 199?. Includes “Saudação a Xangó.”

§ Jane Bunnett, Spirits of Havana, Messidor 1993. Canadian jazz artist goes to Cuba, with Grupo Yoruba Andabo and Merceditas Valdes. Includes beautiful songs to Ochún and Yemayá.

+ Milton Cardona, Bembé, American Clave 1987/1994. 12 cuts led by legendary NYC akpwon and percussionist. An essential recording!

§* Celina y Reutilio y su Conjunto Típico, A Santa Barbara, Suaritos nd. 1950s (?) classic.

ø Celina y Reutilio, Rezos y Cantos Guajiros, Ansonia Records nd. 1957 recording featuring “Assoyi Assoyi, “Agallu Sola.”.

§* Celina y Reutilio, Santa Barbara, Antilla nd. 10-cut 1950s (?) classic. “Caridad del Cobre,” “Qué Viva Changó,” “Flores para tu Altar,” “El Hijo de Eleggua,” etc.

ø Conjunto Cespedes, Una Sola Casa, Xenophile 1993. Featuring “Po Iban Eshu,” “Virgen de la Caridad.”

§ Conjunto Cespedes, Vivito y Coleando, Xenophile 1995. Produced by John Santos. Featuring “Que Viva Changó,” “Alafia,” “Dibuljonji,” etc.

§ Celia Cruz, Homenaje a los Santos, TH Rodven 1988. 18 cut compilation of traditional chants and Orisha-devoted pop songs.

§ Celia Cruz, Homenaje a los Santos, Polydor Tropical 1994. 12 cut compilation of traditional chants and Orisha-devoted pop songs.

§ Celia Cruz, La Incomparable Celia, Palladium 1989. Featuring “Chango Ta’Veni.”.

ø Descarga Boricua, ¡Esta, Sí Va!, Tierrazo Records (Puerto Rico) 1993. Featuring terrific blend of chant and salsa on “Canto A Eleggúa.”

Æ George Duke, Reach For It, Epic/Sony 1977, 1991. Featuring instrumental cut “Omi (Fresh Water).”

ø Fourth World featuring Airto Moreira and Flora Purim, Fourth World, B&W Music 1993. Features beautiful song “Starfish” praising Iemanjá.

+* Fuerza Santera, Carlos Cruz/Santero SLP-17. 12 song CD made from a warped LP. Yecch.

ø Gilberto Gil/Jorge Ben, Gil e Jorge, Polygram 1975. Includes “Filhos de Gandhi” dedicated to a Candomble Ilé.

ø Celina González, ¡Que Viva Chango!, Qbadisc 1993. More recent Cuban songs including remake of her famous title cut.

ø Jerry Gonzalez and the Fort Apache Band, Obatalá, Enja 1989. Live jazz concert featuring title cut sung by Milton Cardona.

+ Grupo Afrocuba de Matanzas, Rituales Afrocubanos, Egrem (Cuba) 1993. Lucumí, Arará, Bantu songs.

+* Grupo Folklorico de Cuba, Toques y Cantos de Santos, Vol. 1, Cubilandia (nd).

+* Grupo Folklorico de Cuba, Toques y Cantos de Santos, Vol. 2, Cubilandia (nd). 14 cuts featuring “Canto para Elegua,” “Rezo para Oddua,” “Macuta Canto de Palo,” etc.

ø Grupo Folklorico y Experimental Nuevayorquino, Concepts in Unity, Salsoul Salsa 1994. 1975 recording including “Canto Asoyin,” “Canto Hebioso,” “Iyá Modupue.”

Æ Herbie Hancock, Dis Is Da Drum, Polygram 1994. African influenced jazz-funk, featuring “Mojuba,” “Juju.” Francis Awe on Yoruba vocals.

ø La India, LLegó La India via Eddie Palmieri, Soho Sounds/Sony 1992. Includes “Yemayá y Ochún” starting off traditionally with Milton Cardona and ending as Salsa with Eddie Palmieri.

+ Iluyenkori, Cuban Drums, Playa Sound (France) 1990/1992. 14 instrumental and vocal cuts, including songs to Eleggúa, Chango.

+ Iluyenkori, Cuba-Tambors Bata <<Homage a Yemayá et a Ochún>>, Playa Sound (France) 1994 (also US version 1995?). 10 vocal cuts, traditional batá drumming with harmonized female voices.

ø Irakere, Misa Negra, Messidor 1987/1991. Big band Latin jazz interpretation of a Lucumí ceremony; featuring Jesús Chucho Valdés.

ø Antonio Carlos Jobim, Echoes of Rio; RCA/BMG 1989. Compilation of 1970s material not released previously released in US. “Samba Do Avião” begins with invocation to Xangó. O/P?

ø Joyce, Feminina/Agua e Luz, EMI Brazil 1993. Featuring “Aldeia de Ogum” from 1980.

ø Angelique Kidjo, Ayé, Mango/Island 1994. Afropop from Beninois singer. Featuring “Yemandja,” “Tambo.”

ø La Lupe, La Lupe Es la Reina/The Queen, Tico 19769. Featuring “Guaguanco Bembe.”

ø La Lupe, That Genius Called the Queen, Tico 1970. Featuring “Moforibale,” “Por Caridad.”

ø La Lupe, La Lupe en Madrid Vol. 17, Tico 1971. Featuring a cover of Celina & Reutilio’s classic “A La Caridad del Cobre.”

§ The Machete Ensemble, Africa, Volume 1, Earthbeat 1990. Featuring John Santos. Includes “Oba Lube,” “Asesú.”

ø Bobby Matos and the Heritage Ensemble, Heritage, Nightlife Records 1993. Includes “Guiro Elegguá,” “Bembé/The Promised Land,” and a version of Pharoah Sanders’ “The Creator Has a Masterplan” with Lucumí lyrics.

ø Bobby Matos Afro-Cuban Jazz Ensemble, Chango’s Dance, CuBop Recordings/Ubiquity 1995. Including “Elegguá Suite,” “Chango’s Dance,” “Bata Interlude.”

Æ Malcolm McLaren, Duck Rock, Island 1982. Eclectic celebration of early ’80s NYC urban culture via Trevor Horn, Art of Noise, Keith Haring, early hiphop rappers, and batá drums. Includes: “Obatala,” “Legba,” “Song for Changó.”

ø Sergio Mendes & Brasil 66, Foursider, A&M 1972/1988. Hits compilation features Dorival Caymmi’s song to Iemanjá “Promise of a Fisherman.”

Silvestre Méndez el Rey del Canto Afrocubano y su Orquesta, Oriza: Afro-Cuban Rhythms, Seeco/Peerless (Mexico) 1991. Bigband Latin music (of unknown vintage) including “Cabiosile, “Ye Ma Ya,” “Laye Laye,” “A Bailar Oriza,” etc.

ø Helcio Milito, Kilombo, Antilles/New Directions 1987. Eclectic Afro-Brazilian recording featuring “Lamento Negro (Xango),” “Kilombo,” “Mãe Preta.”

ø Los Muñequitos de Matanzas, Rumba Cliente 88/77, Qbadisc 1992. Featuring “Mi Arere,” “Abacua #5.”

ø Los Muñequitos de Matanzas, Cantar Maravilloso, Globestyle/Ace Records (UK) 1990. Featuring “Lo Que Dice El Abakua,” “Iyá Mi Ile,” “Aragua,” “Mi Arere.”

_ Milton Nascimento, Missa dos Quilombos, Polygram (Brazil/US) 1982. Pop inflected Afrocentric mass to Mary, Mother of God (sometimes referred to in the songs as “Iyá”) featuring occasional praise and reference to Obatalá, Olorum, Xangó.

§ Olatunji, Drums of Passion, Columbia 196?. Hugely influential 1960s music from Nigerian master drummer reissued on CD, featuring “Shango,” “Oya,” “Odunde! Odunde!,” more.

ø Orquesta Batachanga featuring John Santos, Rebecca Mauleón and Orestes Vilató, Mañana para los Niños, Earthbeat/Bembé! Records 1989/1995. Featuring “Bárbara Milagrosa,” “Yambatá.”

ø Eddie Palmieri, Leyendas/Legends: Lucumí, Macumba, Voodoo, Sony Tropical 1975/1995. Salsa-funk on “Lucumí, Macumba, Voodoo,” “Mi Congo Te LLama,” etc.

Æ Ivo Perelman, Children of Ibeji, Enja 1992. Avant garde/free jazz from Brazilian saxophonist featuring instrumental cuts “Chant for Oshum,” “Chant for Ibeji,” “Chant for Oshalá,” etc.

ø Danilo Perez, The Journey, Novus/RCA 1994. Latin jazz features Milton Cardona singing beautifully to Obatalá on “Chains.”

ø Daniel Poncé, Changó Te LLama, Mango/Island 1991. Featuring Milton Cardona. Includes title cut and “Oferere.”

§ Baden Powell, Afro Sambas, JSL/Media 7 (France) 1990. Brazilian master guitarist sings mostly to the Orixas: “Canto de Xango,” “Canto de Iemanja,” “Lamento de Exu,” etc.

§ Tito Puente, Top Percussion, BMG Tropical 1992. Classic 1957 performance features Mongo Santamaria, Francisco Aguabella, Merceditas (Valdés?) on “Eleguara,” “Obatala Yeza,” “Obaricoso,” more.

ø Tito Puente y La Lupe, The King and I/El Rey y Yo, Tico Records 1971. Featuring “Rezo a Yemayá.”

ø Puerto Rican All Stars, Tribute to the Messiah, Combo Records (Puerto Rico) 1993. Featuring “Pa’ La Ocha.”

ø Flora Purim, Speed of Light, B&W Music 1995. Includes “Goddess of Thunder,” “A Secret from the Sea.”

Æ Dianne Reeves, Quiet After the Storm, Blue Note 1995. Features “Yemanja/Sargaço Mar.”

ø Elio Reve y su Charangón, Papa Elegua, Egrem (Cuba) 1993. Yes, the title cut begins with “Ave Maria.”

+* Ritmo de Santo de la Tierra de Africa en Arará, Rezo de Santo, Maype n.d. Gilberto Valdes, director. “San Juan Bautista, Orgun en Africano,” “Ochose, El Cazador,” “Santa Teresa, Oya la Dueña del Cementerio,” etc.

§ River Ocean featuring India, The Tribal EP, Strictly Rhythm 1994. 8 versions of “Love and Happiness (Yemayá y Ochún)”, disco single also features Tito Puente and Milton Cardona.

Lázaro Ros and Mezcla, Cantos, Intuition 1992. Chants sung by legendary Akpwon set to Cuban synth pop arrangements recoded in Havana.

+ Lázaro Ros, Asoyi: Cantos Arará, PM Records (Spain) 1994. A capella chants, chants with clapping, plus “Afrekete,” “Jerbioso,” “Awueyi,” “Asoyi,” etc. Recorded in Cuba.

+ Lázaro Ros & Grupo Olorun, Olorun 1, Egrem (Cuba) 1992. Recorded in 1990: “Elegba,” “Oggun,” “Yewa,” “Olokun,” “Orishaoko,” etc.

+ Lázaro Ros, Olorún, Egrem/Xenophile/Green Linnet 1994. 11 songs to the Orishas recorded in Havana.

Æ Michele Rosewoman, Harvest, Enja 1993. Jazz pianist and group on “The Egun and the Harvest,” and others, including Eddie Bobé’s Yoruba vocals on “Warriors (Guerreros).”

ø Bobby Sanabria & Ascensión, ¡N.Y.C. Aché!, Flying Fish 1993. Latin jazz set opens with traditionally sung “Elegba: Guardian of the Crossroads,” plus “Bembé Para Los Ancestros” featuring Tito Puente.

Æ Pharoah Sanders, Journey to the One, Theresa Records 1980. Features jazz instrumental “Yemenja.”

§ Mongo Santamaria, Our Man in Havana, Fantasy 1993. Double album CD reissue also includes 1960 album Bembé in its entirety. Featuring Willie Bobo, Merceditas Valdes, Macucho, Carlos Embale etc. on “Tele Mina for Changó,” “Yemayá Olodo,” “Ochún Mene,” “Olla de for Olla,” etc.

§ Mongo Santamaria, AfroRoots (reissue of Mongo and Yambu), Fantasy 1989. Exploration of African based rhythms from the late 1950s: includes beautiful “Ye ye” sung by Mercedes Hernandez. Also featuring Francisco Aguabella and Willie Bobo.

ø Santana, Borboletta, Columbia 1971. Includes instrumental version of Caymmi’s song to Iemanjá “Promise of a Fisherman.”

ø Santana, Shangó, CBS 1982. Featuring “Oxun (Oshún),” and the instrumental title cut.

ø Santana, Zebop!, Columbia 1981. Featuring “Hannibal,” praising Changó.

§ John Santos and the Machete Ensemble, Machete, Xenophile 1995. Featuring Linda Tillery, Rebeca Mauleón, Orestes Vilató, Cachao, etc. on “Elegua Ago,” “Modupue,” “Iyá,” and the beautiful arrangement of Aberigutu awa leriso “Health Is Our Only Wealth.”

Síntesis, Ancestros, Qbadisc 1992. Traditional chants arranged to a variety of Cuban pop styles, recorded in Cuba in 1987. Featuring Lázaro Ros on one cut. “Asoyin,” “Eyeleo,” “Oyá,” “Titi-Laye,” etc.

Síntesis, Ancestros 2, Qbadisc 1994. 11 more Orisha songs set to a variety of modern pop styles: “Assokere,” “Aguanileo,” “Iyaoromi,” “Ochimini,” etc.

(Ildásio Tavares), Os Orixás, Sigla/Cast (Brazil) 1994. With vocalist Eloah. 12 songs to the Orishas sung in Yoruba and Portuguese arranged to a jazz samba beat. “Exú,” “Omolú,” “Yansan,” “Xangó,” etc.

+ Dudu Tucci, Orishás, WeltWunder-Records (Germany) 1994. Hypnotic instrumental and vocal tracks from Brazilian percussionist living in Europe.

+ Twins Seven Seven, Nigerian Beat, King Record Co. (Japan) 1991. Amazing drumming from Nigerian musicians on 16-minute “Shango,” 14-minute “Oshun,” “Obatala,” more.

ø Jesus Chucho Valdés, Lucumi, Messidor 1988/1991. Solo piano from former Irakere member. Includes “Oshun.”

Merceditas Valdés, Aché, Egrem-Artex (Cuba) n.d. (1990?). Classic singing recorded in Cuba. “Elegua,” “Lacho,” “Chango,” “Drume Negrita,” “Ochun,” more.

Merceditas Valdés y los Tambores Batá de Jesús Pérez, Cuba, ASPIC (France) early 1990s? Features much of Aché album plus “Osain,” “Yemayá,” more.

ø Dave Valentin, Legends, Arista/GRP 1978. Version of jazz classic “Afro Blue” features Milton Cardona on batá and Lucumí vocals.

ø Dave Valentin, Musical Portraits, GRP 1992. “King of the White Cloth” features Milton Cardona singing beuatifully to Obatalá.

ø Carlos Varela, Monedas al Aire, Qbadisc 1993. Dissident Cuban singer is not exactly pro-Orisha religion, but mentions it a bit in his songs about decay, despair and hope in modern Cuba.

ø Papo Vasquez, Breakout, Timeless Records 1992. “Chango y Yemaya” features Milton Cardona on vocals.

_ Vodu 155, Vodu 155, Island 1995. Haitian Vodou pop with Bill Laswell etc. “Vodu Funkadelic,” “Zaka” etc.

Æ Caron Wheeler, Beach of the War Goddess, EMI Records, 1992. Afro-Centric British funk singer’s 2nd solo album. Title cut includes beautiful Yoruba invocation to Eshu sung by Fabemi Fashina.


§# various artists, Afro Brasil, Verve 1990. Compilation of mostly Bahian-based Brazilian popular musicians. Many of the songs have African or Orisha-religion references.

+§# various artists, Afro-Cuban (The Real Cuban Music Series), Panart/Rodven 1994. Celia Cruz, Gina Martin, Mercedes Valdés, etc. on traditional and pop songs including “Chango,” “Babalu Aye,” “Elegua Inkio,” more.

+ various artists, Amazonia: Festival and Cult Music of Northern Brazil, Lyrichord Discs (n.d.). 1975 field recordings of Umbanda ceremonies including possession sequences.

_ various artists, Been in the Storm So Long: A Collection of Spirituals, Folk Tales and Children’s Games from Johns Island, South Carolina. Smithsonian Folkways 1990. Not Orisha related but gives an instant lesson in the African roots of African-American church singing: the link between Orisha songs and gospel.

_ various artists, Bénin: Rythmes et chants pour les vodun, VDE (Switzerland) 1990. Field recordings of Vodou ceremonies recorded in Benin in the early 1970s.

+ various artists, Candomblé Brésil: Les Eaux d’Oxalá: Afro-Brazilian Ritual, Buda Records (France) 199?. Chants and songs for the Orixás recorded live in Brazil.

_# various artists, Cantos de Congos y Paleros, Artex (Cuba) 1994. 28 cuts by 3 Palo cabildos in Cuba.

§# various artists, Cuba Classics 3: Diablo al Infierno. Luaka Bop/Warner Bros. 1992. David Byrne’s compilation of modern Cuban pop, including Síntesis, Lázaro Ros with Mezcla, NG de la Banda, etc., on songs including “Asoyin,” “Ikiri Ada,” “Que Viva Changó,” etc.

+ various artists, Cuba: Les Danses des Dieux-Musique de cultes et fetes afro-cubaines, Harmonia Mundi/Radio France 1988. Field recordings of Arará, Vodou, Santería and Palo singing in Cuba.

§# various artists, ¡Despojate!, El Inspectador de la Salsa/Caribe 1994. 10 modern Cuban songs celebrating the Orishas from NG de la Banda, los Van Van, Kiki Corona, Elio Reve, etc.

_#(©?) various artists, Divine Horsemen: The Voodoo Gods of Haiti, Lyrichord (nd). 1953 recordings by Maya Deren.

§# various artists, Music from and inspired by the film The Devil’s Toothpick, Soundtrack from Creed Taylor’s film on Salvador de Bahia, Brazil, features several versions of “Theme from The Devil’s Toothpick (Yemanjá)” in a variety of styles from samba to ballad to reggae featuring Klyde Jones, Kenia and others, in English, Portuguese and instrumental.

_# various artists, Rhythms of Rapture: Sacred Musics of Haitian Vodou, Smithsonian Folkways 1995. 20 songs, traditional and pop, celebrating and invoking the Haitian loa.

+# various artists, Sacred Rhythms of Cuban Santeria, Smithsonian Folkways 1995. Cuban ceremonial performances from early 1980s, 24 cuts.

+#© various artists, Sacred Sounds of Santeria, Vol. 1: Rhythms of the Orishas, Destiny Recordings 1993. Collected and presented by Raul J. Canizares.

+#© various artists, Sacred Sounds of Santeria, Vol. 2: Rhythms of the Goddess, Destiny Recordings 1994. Collected and presented by Raul J. Canizares.

+# various artists, Santero: AfroCuban Cult Music (volume 1), Panart Recordings/Discos Top Hits CA 1994. 11 cuts (recorded in late 1950s?) featuring Celia Cruz, Merceditas Valdes, Eugenio de la Rosa, etc.

+ #* various artists, Santero: Cuban Cult Music Vol. 2, T.H. Rodven 1988. 1950s(?) traditional and bigband arrangements of Orisha songs featuring Gina Martin. “Elegua,” “Ogun,” “Saracoco,” “Ochun,” “Olla,” “Omo Belli,” etc.

+§#* various artists?, Santeros Autenticos: Santa Barbara. No publishing information or artist info on CD (!), sounds like something else speeded up. Not a good recording.

Compiled by Ian Horst

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2 Comments For This Post

  1. ish Says:

    Hey I wrote this! I think my original site it was on is gone, so you’re welcome to keep this up.

    Check out my current blogs:
    includes a fair amount of spiritual incl. Yoruba related music

    Essays on spirituality and politics:

    –Ian Horst

  2. Admin Says:

    Hey, we need to connect! I jam out to one of your mixtapes regularly. I’m emailing you right now. lol

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