Thursday, May 19, 2016

"Mama Rosin" - Yvonne LeBlanc & Nathan Abshire

By the late 1950s, Nathan Abshire's band was slowing down.  Cajun music was struggling to keep up with the last 10 years of a resurgence.  Even Khoury's recordings were changing direction towards rock n roll and country music.  The group looked towards other genres that were gaining popularity at the time.  Recorded for George Khoury's label around 1956, it would be one of his last releases of Cajun music, using a new label design.  With Nathan on accordion, Dewey Balfa on fiddle, Jake Miere on steel guitar and Shelton Manuel on drums, together they would record "Mama Rosin" (#652).

Rhumba music became popular amount country musicians for a short period of time during the 1950s and Nathan's band seemed to jump in on the action.  With songs like this and "Boora Rhumba", you can hear the influence.   

Oh, Mama Rosin, oh, Mama Rosin,
'Gardez-donc, c’est de la rumba pour toi.

Oh, Mama Rosin, oh, Mama Rosin,
Maurice Chevalier
Quand-même les autres vient
Ça va pas faire pour moi

Quand j'ai pris, mais, te à la "bango"*, 
J’ai tombé en amour pour le tango,
Asteur c’est plus belle d’un tango
Même comme j’ai jamais même dansons.

Oh, Mama Rosin, oh, Mama Rosin,
Ça c’est dur, c’est de la rumba pour toi.

"Mama Rosin" is very similar to a classic Cuban song from the 30's "Mama Inez" (or "Ay Mama Inez"), written by composer Eliseo Grenet. It was covered by, among others, Xavier Cugat, Charlie Parker and the French singer Maurice Chevalier.   In fact, it would be Chevalier's lyrics that come closest to the version Yvonne used. 

Yvonne's phrasing of the line referring to "the bango" is quite confusing and difficult to discern.   According to Ray Abshire, Yvonne LeBlanc was a major fan of the band.  She was at the Avalon most weekends and had a table close to the front with her friends.  Nathan called her "Petite Yvonne".  She was only 4 foot 6 at the most.  She loved to dance and was on the dance floor for most of the night.1,2 Sometimes, Nathan would let her sing a song with the band.  

Oh Mama Rosin, oh, Mama Rosin,
Look at that, it's the Rhumba for you,

Oh Mama Rosin, oh, Mama Rosin,
When the other ones come,
That won't do it for me.

When I took you to do the "bango"*,
I fell in love with the tango,
Right now it's the most beautiful tango,
Even though I never even dance.

Oh Mama Rosin, oh, Mama Rosin,
That's the hardest part, to do the Rhumba for you.

She was on her way to the Avalon with her parents and brother when they were involved in a fatal wreck with a slow moving rice truck.  Only Yvonne survived.2   As far as Khoury himself, his Cajun listings began to decline at this point, with only a few issues remaining, venturing out into the 45 RPM market.  

  1. Discussions with Ray Abshire
  2. Louisiana Music, Vol 1 by Lyle Ferb
  3. Lyrics by Jordy A, Stéphanie D, and Marc C
French Blues (Arhoolie, 1993)
Bayou Two-Step - Cajun Hits From Louisiana 1929-1962 (Jasmine, 2015)


  1. "Mama Rosin" is a long time favorite, probably first heard on an Arhoolie LP long ago. Thanks for posting. . . .

    1. Yikes, I just checked and I first heard it longer ago than I thought, on Flyright's Jambalaya On The Bayou Vol. 1 - Cajun Dance & Blues back in the late 60s!


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