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The Myrtle Mystery Is Solved

South American Way by Paquita & Zarate by tajmahalfoxtrot1

Myrtle Watkins

Paquita

A few months ago, I wrote here about the singer Myrtle Watkins, who performed at the Taj in Bombay during the winter of 1935. She had made her reputation as a jazz singer in Europe but then, in a transformation I couldn’t quite track in the archives, seems by the late 1930s to have started performing Latin American music under the name Paquita, along with her husband, the Mexican violinist Sam Zarate.

Between November 1941 and December 1942, Paquita and Zarate cut more than a dozen discs in India, backed by the African-American pianist Teddy Weatherford, like the one above,  South American Way.  The confusion about the performer’s identify arose when a discography published in the jazz magazine Storyville said that Paquita was actually the stage name for Myrtle Watkins. But I wasn’t able to find other evidence for this, and the photos I had of Paquita and Watkins (reproduced above) were too indistinct to be able to make a clear identification either way.

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Remembering Anthony Gonsalves

[This article first appeared in Seminar and has been reproduced in The Greatest Show on Earth, a new anthology of writing about Bollywood edited by the excellent Jerry Pinto.]

 

Midway through Manmohan Desai’s classic 1977 film about three brothers separated in childhood, a man in a top hat and a Saturday Night Fever suit leaps out of a giant Easter egg to inform the assemblage, “My name is Anthony Gonsalves.”

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