Iluminan Mi Sendero / Acompañala

Totó la Momposina

Released 30 September 2022

  1. Iluminan Mi Sendero
  2. Acompañala

Liner notes

In 1996 Totó la Momposina, her son Marco Vinicio and her producer John Hollis went into a small studio in Paris to work on some songs for a new album. One of these was ‘Acompañala’, a song written by Totó about a night when she and some of her family arrived at a village called Rio Cedro on the Caribbean coast of Colombia after a long car journey from Bogotá. They were on a holiday break and had been loaned a villa by a friend, for which the only access was by walking along the shore. It was dark and the waves lapped at their feet as they made their way across the sand, lit by the moon and stars. Totó’s words speak of those moments which became magical for her.

For the pre-production session in Paris, John invited Guinean singer Djanka Diabate on backing vocals, his experience working for several years with West African music led him to believe that soaring Manding voices would work beautifully with Toto’s voice and the sentiment for her song. The women clicked immediately and the song began to fly, Marco began to build the percussion tracks whilst Djanka started layering voices. The day finished happily, all of them knowing they had hit on something special.

A year or so later whilst recording the Pacanto album they planned to develop ‘Acompañala’ some more however Djanka wasn’t available at the time and a different version went down for that project. It was good, a more ‘straightahead’ interpretation with a full band, powerfully innovative, but there was something about the moving, minimalist, delicate first version that made John return to the session tapes many years later.

In September 2020 Totó travelled to France spending a year with her daughter Euridice, John and family. Early in 2021 Totó was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s by a French doctor who emphasised the importance of maintaining Toto’s contact with music. John and family thus embarked on a series of regular musical sessions with Totó which included some recordings. John dusted down the multi-tracks from the 1996 sessions and invited his Senegalese friend Moustapha Gueye to put down some guitar tracks. Inspired by the beauty of these melodies 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 became ‘Iluminan mi Sendero’.



Voice Totó la Momposina
Backing vocals Djanka Diabate
Guitars Moustapha Gueye
Percussion Marco Vinicio Oyaga
Produced by John Hollis
Engineers Carlos Arguedas, Franz Erl, Paolo Hollis

Further Listening

  • Échale Salsita

    Totó la Momposina

    Released 30 September 2022

    '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, partly recorded in 1998 and completed in 2021.
  • Tambolero

    Totó la Momposina

    Released 25 June 2015

    You don't normally get the chance to go back in time and reimagine a classic album like La Candela Viva but creating Tambolero has been a challenge and a delight. It’s become a celebration of Totó's career: six decades dedicated to preserving, researching and developing an ancestral tradition, the identity of a people, passed down through the generations. 

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