The Untold Story of El Burrito Sabanero

BY: 
Catherine A. Jones
 | December 21, 2023

Music and the holidays go hand in hand.

And, when it comes to “Mi Burrito Sabanero,” it’s not just music. It’s a holiday tradition. 

Every year, the original song, with over 129 million view on YouTube, acts as a musical bridge connecting generations and cultures.

“ … it’s one of those ubiquitous songs that you can’t really get away from. You hear it at choirs, parties and even shopping malls,” Felix Contreras of NPR explains.

Yet, the story behind “El Burrito Sabanero” isn’t exactly a happy one.

El Burrito Sabanero’s Forgotten Voice

In 1972, the Venezuelan composer Hugo Blanco penned this iconic tune. 

Blanco, revered as El Maestro, was known for his many compositions, including the bolero “Moliendo Cafe.”

Years later, in 1976, the song was brought to life by a children’s ensemble known as La Rondallita. “Mi Burrito Sabanero” boasts straightforward and repetitive lyrics, aligning with the style common in many children’s songs.

Initially performed by Venezuelan singer Simón Díaz, Blanco envisioned a more fitting rendition by youthful voices. He collaborated with the Coro Infantil of Venezuela and its director, Raúl Cabrera, to adapt the song for a children’s chorus. Thus, creating the group La Rondallita.

The singer behind the Christmas classic “El Burrito Sabanero” was a then-8-year-old Ricardo Cuenci.

Last December 2022, YouTuber host, and musician, César Muñoz, published a video on his YouTube channel  “La Cata Musical” telling what was then the untold story of Cuenci’s life.

Righting a Christmas Wrong

In that interview, Cuenci said he never received any kind of payment for singing a song that plays in almost every Latin American home in the world at least once a year.

Muñoz made a decision to right the wrongs of Christmas pasts. So, he told Cuenci’s story in the hopes of raising money to give the singer what he deserves.

The video has racked up more than 3 million views and established a GoFundMe page with a goal of just $5,000.

“Ricardo never received any kind of compensation, neither for the recording nor for the live performances he did when he was a child,” Muñoz writes on the GoFundMe page. “Today, his life situation is complicated. He has gone through very difficult times, and recently, his house was completely robbed and ransacked.”

Muñoz, a musician and writer, and the creator of the GoFundMe campaign, says he’ll keep donors updated on his YouTube channel.

“This campaign aims to give Ricardo Cuenci the chance to rebuild his life, as well as economically compensate for the joy he has brought us for over four decades through his legendary performance,” he explains.

To date, it’s raised over $35,000 for Cuenci and his family.

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