Rough Guide to African Music for Children
This is really the one I wanted to post after, "The Jungle Book" but then I found out about Sonny Rollins' Birthday so of course I had to do a Sonny Rollins entry. This is another one I found in the kiddie section at the Library. I was pretty happy when I found it because it's a Rough Guide
comp and there was a 90% chance that it would ROCK! I'll just say........it indeed ROCKS!
The title is a bit confusing because this ain't no silly kiddie album. This compilation was selected by a bunch of kids in England with some being as young as 5. They were given several African music albums and they were to write down what their favorite songs were and this is how the compilation was made. One listen to this and you will discover that the kids who picked these tracks out weren't any old average run of the mill kids. These kids were the cool kids that sit in the back of the bus and in the back of the classroom all the time. I bet some of the kids were even too cool to ride a bus! All I can say is that it is indeed another fine Rough Guide Compilation. I've yet to hear a Rough Guide that wasn't outstanding. Next time you're in a CD Shop, share the love and throw some dough towards Rough Guide's way. They truly are a great label. You can't go wrong with a Rough Guide purchase. And no I don't work for them, but I wish I did.
Mr. AMG says,
"Hallelujah! Finally an album for children that doesn't talk down to them. That could just be because the music here was selected by kids, who obviously have better taste than most adults -- and certainly more adventurous. A disc that ranges from the electro roots of Mali's Issa Bagoyogo, through JJC & 419 Squad's rap, to the glorious Zulu harmonies of Ladysmith Black Mambazo, is definitely doing something right. The disc also spans the continent very well, with some great sounds from Ethiopia, Nigeria (a smoking track from drummer Tony Allen), South African, and even the all too often ignored Mozambique. To anyone interested in music, every track is a killer, too, often pushing at envelopes, like the hip-hop of Tanzania's X Plastaz with "Kutesa Kwa Zamu" or the mix of Congolese soukous with Zimbabwean chimurenga that earmarks "Tornadoes vs Dynamos (3-3)" by Real Sounds, which also brings in the pan-African passion for soccer. This disc serves as a very strong reminder that kids don't need things simplified. They can enjoy good music every bit as much as adults, and with just as much variety -- certainly without the twee quality that characterizes so much children's music. Listen by yourself or with your kids; either way you'll love it."
This one contains and interesting version of, "Mbube" You all probably know it as, "Wimoweh", "Wimowey" or The Lion Sleeps Tonight, or maybe even Uh Weeeeeeeeeeooooooooowwweeeeeoooooweeeeeeoooooo
wweeeoooo. Well whatever you know it as, know it as an interesting, fascinating, and rather depressing story. The story behind the song could fill a book. I'm not going to write a book here, but I'll give you a quick synapses and then some links that you can read if you want to read more about it.
It was originally recorded in 1939 by Solomon Linda as, "Mbube" (Lion) in South Africa and sold about 100,000 copies in South Africa and England. Linda was paid a small fee for the recording, but received no royalties. One source I read said something about Apartheid being a reason why Linda didn't receive any royalties. In 1952 Alan Lomax, who is a very important music historian (I posted an Alan Lomax compilation of traditional Italian music a month or so ago) and also put Woody Guthrie
on the map, introduced Pete Seeger to the song.
Pete Seeger misheard many of the lyrics and so, "uyimbube" which means, "You're a Lion" became, "Wimoweh." which don't mean nothin'. I believe Pete Seeger was the only musician that covered this song that gave Soloman Linda any royalties. The most famous version was done in 1961 when the Tokens rode "Wimoweh" all the way to #1 in the U.S. Sadly, Solomon Linda ended up dying penniless in South Africa in 1962. Since then several people recorded this song, yet Solomon Linda didn't receive a stinking penny. (Other than Seeger) Walt Disney's, "The Lion King" also used the song and made several several million.
Now for the good news. Well kind of good news.
"In 2000 South African
journalist Rian Malan
wrote a feature article for Rolling Stone
magazine, highlighting Linda's story and estimating that the song had earned U.S. $15 million for its use in The Lion King
alone; this prompted the PBS
television documentary "The Lion's Trail". In 2001, the song was sampled by the Baha Men
for their song, "You All Dat".
In July 2004 the song became the subject of a lawsuit between the family of its writer Solomon Linda and Disney. The suit claimed that Disney owed $1.6 million in royalties for the use of "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" in the film and stage production of The Lion King. Meanwhile, publisher of The Weavers' "Wimoweh", TRO/Folkways, began to pay $3000 annually to Linda's heirs."
It's a little late, but at least this story is coming to light and the family of Linda is getting some kind of compensation. And if you have read this far, yes I guess I'm kind of a hypocrite. I have complained about an artist not given his due on a blog that freely shares music. It bugs me.
The Wiki entry is pretty good and it has the link to the PBS documentary and other great information about the song.
1. Tounga - Issa Bagatogo (Mali)
2. Nono Femineh - Ricardo Lemvo & Makina Loca (Congo/USA)
3. Mama - Mory Kante (Guinea)
4. Leroy - Tony Allen & Tweak (Nigeria)
5. Tashamanaletch - Alemayehu Eshete & Shebele's Band (Ethiopia)
6. Baba Mkwe Pt 1 - Kaki Kilonzo (Kenya)
7. Kutesa Kwa Zamu - X Plastaz
8. Tornados Vs Dynamos - Real Sounds
9. Atide (We R Here) - JJC & 419 Squad
10. Mbube (The Lion) - Mahotella Queens
11. Bula Bula - Mabulu
12. Inkanyezi Nezazi (A Star And The Wiseman) - Ladysmith Black Mambazo
Rough Guide African Music for Children
pw = Mbube