Last week in Now THAT’S what I call singing! Volume 1 I shared some of my favourite songs from Europe: Corsica, Georgia, Russian orthodox, gypsy, the Balkans and Bulgaria.
This week it’s the turn of the rest of the world! Hover over the small loudspeaker or film icon before a song title and Apture will let you play the clip.
If you receive these posts by email or RSS feed, it might be easier to pop over to the webpage to hear the sounds. Just click on the title at the top.
I was at a residential theatre workshop in Wales many, many years ago and there were these three black guys (from London I think) who taught me a song on the beach one day. They hadn’t got it quite right it turned out, but it blew me away nonetheless. It was called Shosholoza. One of my favourite versions is by the The Drakensberg Boys Choir. In this video you can even learn all the separate parts!
Since then I have learnt songs (and dances!) from all across Africa and have over 80 in my repertoire. In a recent African weekend workshop I taught songs from the North African Bedouins, Cameroon, Ghana, Congo, Nigeria, Guinea, Gabon, Zimbabwe and South Africa. It proved to be so popular that I’m running a follow-up next year! (Sing more Africa).
New Zealand Maori songs have always attracted me because of their harmonies that are rather jazz- or blues-like. One song that’s been in our repertoire for some time is Pokarekare ana. I originally arranged it for three equal voices (we didn’t have any blokes in the choir then!), but later added a bass part. We also do songs from the Cook Islands (Te oonu), Hawaii (Heke hau) and other Pacific islands.
Gospel, spirituals and hymns
I don’t have a religious bone in my body, but there are gospel songs and spirituals out there which are just gorgeous. I love the energy, grace and beauty of a lot of these songs. One of the first such songs that I taught is called Bright morning star. It is reputed to be of Shaker origin, but there is no clear evidence for this. Many people think it is a Kentucky/ Ozark/ Appalachian hymn.
I’m a sucker for the slow, gentle shanties that probably weren’t used on board ship to do heavy work. They are haunting and still send shivers up my spine no matter how many times I hear them.
Perhaps the most famous one in our repertoire is Shenandoah. It should maybe be titled ‘Rolling River’ or ‘Missouri’, since many versions don’t even mention Shenandoah! Our version speaks about the love of a geographical location (other versions talk about the love of a ‘redskin maiden’).
And then there’s the home country. I’ve always been in love with what is called ‘world music’ and I’m definitely not a lyric person, so songs in English often leave me cold. The answer: sing in Welsh or Scottish Gaelic!
But all is not lost for you folkies out there. Personally I’m not drawn to English folk music, but I found a really interesting arrangement on a Northern Harmony CD and ‘borrowed’ it for Woven Chords: Searching for lambs. It makes it sound very eerie and almost Eastern European (hence my attraction!).
and the rest
Of course there are many more songs and countries and cultures and styles that I like, but I hope I’ve managed to give you an introduction to where I’m coming from. Enjoy listening!
where can I hear more?
Both Woven Chords and WorldSong have now released two CDs with a total of 88 tracks between them. Many of the songs in these two posts feature on these CDs. You can find full track listings and information on how to buy them here:
You can also buy arrangements of some of the songs from my website (Lowlands away, Shenandoah, Lisa lan and more).