Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Lit'l Boy - Roland Hayes, Reginald Boardman - Spritual (before) Noon

Of early origin and decidedly African is "Lit'l Boy, How Ole are You?" a solo-type song.  This particular song was sung to me by my old friend, William L. Shelton.  He had once heard it sung by a traveling Aframerican evangelist.  Because of the native African quality, rhythmically and idiomatically, I have written its accompaniment in a pure African design suggested by the idiomatic rhythmic pattern given me by Nigeria West Africans in London,  I have arraigned it to retain as nearly as possible its original flavor, through our conventional harmonic form, and conventional instrument, the piano. 

Roland Hayes,  My Favorite Spirituals

In the extremely informative introduction to his book, Roland Hayes talked about how he made a study of the musical practice of Africa by talking with and listening to African musicians he met, especially in England and Europe well before it became a wide spread practice.  While a proposed concert tour of locations in Africa didn't come off for purely practical reasons, Hayes clearly wanted to go and to learn about the people and their music.   He noted how surprised he was at how much had been retained by African descendants in North America through the dispersal and enslavement and oppression.   His interest in the whole range of that tradition and practice is heard by his recording of Villa Lobos' setting of a chant to Papa Xango.

What conservative Christians would make of this recording of a Vodun-Santeria chant, I don't know. I do know he recorded it more than once.  This recording, even played back acoustically, gives a good idea of how powerful and beautiful his voice was in its prime.

Here, in another video of Xango, perhaps more at the original speed of the performance,  with a song sung in Louisiana French patois, Micheu Banjo.

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