After more than two decades licensing audio recording rights for Disney music to labels such as RCA/Victor, Walt Disney decided to create an in-house label in 1956. Enter music man Tutti Camarata, who helped co-found Disneyland Records, known today as Walt Disney Records. Tutti first began experimenting with the classic Disney animated films, including Bambi, Dumbo, Cinderella, Mary Poppins, and more, putting story, music, and dialogue to long-playing vinyl record albums.
He once explained, “This way, you could hear the motion picture rather than see it. It was probably one of the first times that soundtracks had been approached in this way. When starting a new record label, you want an identity and Disney’s best identity was its animated classics.”
Salvador Tutti Camarata was born on May 11, 1913, in Glen Ridge, New Jersey. He entered Juilliard School of Music in New York at 18, followed by nearby Columbia University.
After his classical music education, Tutti entered the popular music field, playing trumpet and arranging for bands, including the Charlie Barnet and the Jimmy Dorsey Orchestras. He also arranged for and performed with Benny Goodman, Paul Whiteman, Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Bing Crosby, Rosemary Clooney, and other legends.
In 1946, he moved to England to serve as music supervisor, arranger, and conductor on Arthur Rank’s London Town, Britain’s first major Technicolor musical. While there, he also formed the Kingston Symphony and co-founded London Records, featuring such British artists as Gracie Fields and Anne Shelton.
In 1950, he returned to the United States to work as music supervisor for Decca Records in New York. Five years later, he conducted the television orchestra for the live broadcast of Together with Music, starring Mary Martin and Noel Coward, followed by The Vic Damone Show in 1956.
At Disney, Tutti supervised recordings of more than 300 Disneyland Records albums, including those featuring Disney stars such as Mouseketeer Annette Funicello, for whom he developed the distinctive “Annette” sound.
He recalled, “Annette felt she couldn’t sing. People at Disney said, ‘Why don’t we dub a voice in.’ I said, ‘I’d like to try Annette singing.’ So I developed a way of recording her voice, creating an echo. The first time she heard it, she was surprised and happy. She began to gain more confidence as a vocalist.” During his 16 years with Disney, Tutti also supervised vocals on Disney’s 1963 feature Summer Magic, starring Hayley Mills.
The Disneyland Records label soon expanded to include non-Disney artists, such as Louis Armstrong singing Disney Songs: The Satchmo Way. Tutti recalled, “When Louis finished recording, I got a letter from him, thanking me for letting him sing ‘When You Wish Upon a Star, Makes No Difference Who You Are…’ I almost cried when I saw that.”
In 1962, Walt nudged Tutti to develop Sunset Sound in Hollywood, where many Disneyland titles were recorded. Tutti later added to his recording empire when he purchased The Sound Factory, also in Hollywood. The studios have since become legendary recording sites in the music industry.
Later in his career, Tutti developed an album of spiritual hymns, The Power and the Glory, featuring a 100-piece orchestra and a 180-voice adult choir, and wrote a music textbook, Fugue Simplified.
Tutti Camarata passed away on April 13, 2005, in Burbank, California.