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Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Musical Interlude - Ilene Woods

As a professed Disney fan, I couldn't let this pass by without giving it a moment on my blog. Ilene Woods, the voice of Walt Disney's "Cinderella", passed away on Thursday, July 1, 2010 at the age of 81. It feels like maybe a little of the Disney magic is gone now too, since she was such a big part of bringing Cinderella to life. The animators used an actress in a costume to sketch from and capture the movements of Cinderella, but in my opinion it was Ilene's voice that truly gave Cinderella her heart and soul.  As you listen to her speak (and sing), it was easy to believe that she was kind to all creatures, forgiving and loving, sweet and good and full of hope and dreams.

I think all of the songs in Cinderella are beautiful, but I've posted the video for "Oh Sing Sweet Nightingale" because I think it shows off her singing talent the best.  Here's a little background on the song, which I found in her tribute on D23 (the official Disney fan blog). If you have a minute, click on the link and read the article.  It will be worth your time.

During recording sessions, Walt would drop by to offer suggestions, including asking Ilene if she could harmonize with herself on "Oh Sing Sweet Nightingale." She later recalled, "It was such a beautiful sequence — Cinderella scrubbing the floor and each time a soap bubble would rise with another image of Cinderella, so would another voice. When we heard the finished product, Walt kidded, 'How about that? All of these years I've been paying three salaries for the Andrews Sisters, when I could have only paid one for you!"

Ilene may be gone, but it makes me smile, to think of the generations of kids yet to come, who will be enchanted by her sweet voice, and stare in wonder as Cinderella gets her magical ballgown, or even when she sings into the soap bubbles.  Sweet dreams, princess!  Thank you for lending us your song.

4 comments:

chandy said...

Awww...how sad :(
I kind of think of these characters as timeless, ya know? I never imagine that the people who brought them to life might not be around anymore.

I think that of all the disney movies, cinderella is the one I've seen the most. I bet I have the whole movie memorized!

D.L. White said...

I know what you mean. The movies and characters are so iconic, you forget there was a team of people who brought those things to life in the first place.

WriterGirl316 said...

Thank you for that, Davina. I can't believe she passed away; it's painful to think about, because she is so much more talented than so many artists today. I mean, to be able to harmonize with yourself must require a huge voice range, right?

For me, people like Ilene Woods are like authors- they are supposed to be referred to in the present tense, because of the idea that their work lives on even after they do not. In my child-like mind of Disney, I'll always think of her as living on through her work in "Cinderella."

PS- The bubbles look great. Sharp and clean, but fun too :-)

Laura said...

Cinderella is the first movie I remember seeing in the theatre, the old huge Fox theatre in Old town Fullerton. I was five. It has always had the most special place in my heart, so much so that I chose "A Dream Is a Wish" as the song I sang to my first baby.

Thank you for posting a bit about Ms. Woods experience with Walt Disney. What wonderful memories she must have had.