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Contemporary African Gospel Songs

Azizi 06 Jan 12 - 08:17 PM
Azizi 06 Jan 12 - 08:27 PM
Bobert 06 Jan 12 - 09:02 PM
Azizi 06 Jan 12 - 09:05 PM
Azizi 06 Jan 12 - 09:07 PM
Bobert 06 Jan 12 - 10:22 PM
GUEST, Azizi 07 Jan 12 - 11:00 AM
GUEST,Azizi 07 Jan 12 - 11:11 AM
Bobert 07 Jan 12 - 06:15 PM
GUEST,999 07 Jan 12 - 06:29 PM
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Subject: Contemporary African Gospel Songs
From: Azizi
Date: 06 Jan 12 - 08:17 PM

This thread focuses on contemporary* Gospel songs from West Africa, and other regions of Africa, or by Africans living elsewhere.

* I am defining "contemporary" to be 1990s and on.

A number of African Gospel songs (also known as praise & worship songs) are currently very popular throughout the world. In part, this is because of the role of YouTube videos and other internet sites in raising awareness of those songs and providing opportunities to hear and see them. The popularity of contemporary African Gospel music is also because of the increased immigration of African musicians, vocalists, and composers, and/or the increased travel of those artists outside of their nations and outside Africa for concerts, church performances etc. More and more African musicians, vocalists, and composers are recording with other Africans from outside their ethnic group and nation, are recording with people from the African Diaspora, and with non-Black people. This has resulted in a combination of cultural influences resulting in a rich mix of African-Caribbean rhythyms, and/or African-Jazz rhythms and other so-called "World music" flavored songs & tunes.

Besides the aesthetic enjoyment of much of the contemporary African Gospel music that I have heard online, what particularly interests me is studying how the instrumental music/lyrics reflect traditional African cultures in various ways including the prevalence of forms of call & response, and the use of the tradition names for the Supreme Deity in the language of the composer or recording artist's ethnic group. I've also found that while the tune is usually quite consistent, there are often multiple versions of the same song, there are certain consistent lyrics within that song "family", and there are also additional lyrics that may be relatively "fixed" for the vocalist who records that particualr version, but still might be changed by the omission of lyrics and/or the addition of floating verses by other vocalists or church congregations. Furthermore, the recording artists and others might perform the song differently using interjections or spoken word "testifying" (preaching). The spontaneous addition of other verses and spoken portions means that the song is open ended (the length of the song isn't fixed; each rendition of the song may be different).

I'm also interested to observe in videos of contemporary African Gospel songs how dancing during church services or elsewhere is considered a normal, desired response to that music. This is different from the Puritan influenced USA, but to be expected in African cultures in which playing musical instruments, singing, and dancing are inextricably linked with each other.

Two contemporary Gospel songs that have numerous YouTube videos are "Jehovah, You Are The Most High God" and "Baba Se O" (also known as "Baba ese"). I recently posted a four part series on my cultural blog "Pancocojams". Those post include information, videos, and two examples of lyrics of "Jehovah, You Are The Most High God". The link to the first post is http://pancocojams.blogspot.com/2012/01/africa-gospel-song-you-are-most-high.html includes an example of the first recorded version of that song from Gbenga Wise. Thanks to the wonders of the internet, I queried Gbenga Wise (who now lives in the USA). Mr. Wise happened to be in London but he promptly responded to my questions, and gave me corrected information about the recording date for that song [I had repeated a 1998 date from someone on a YouTube thread]. That Gospel artist also gave me additional clarifying information about the "Jehovah, You Are The Most High God" (JYATMHG) song, and about the song he refers to as "Baba Baba Ese O". As I had received permission from him to do so, I updated my blog post with the information he had shared with me.

Post 2 of that series includes information about the tempo and rhytyms of versions of that "Jehovah, You Are The Most High God", and also includes more video examples. Post 3 includes information about the call & response structure of those songs, and also includes two text examples of that song. And Part 4 features additional video examples of that song from Africans in Europe.

Lyrics of contemporary African Gospel songs are very hard to find.
On this thread, I'll add one text example from Part 3 of my post http://pancocojams.blogspot.com/2012/01/lyric-examples-of-jehovah-you-are-most.html, and I'll add a transcription I did of another version of that song that I didn't include on that post. I may also add lyrics to other versions of JYATMHG or lyrics of other songs, and links to other videos of African Gospel music to this thread.

Your comments, links to videos, and lyric examples-transcriptions or otherwise-are welcome here and on my blog.

Best wishes,

Azizi Powell


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Subject: Lyr Add: Jehovah, You Are The Most High God
From: Azizi
Date: 06 Jan 12 - 08:27 PM

JEHOVAH, YOU ARE THE MOST HIGH GOD
[Kofi Thompson]


Spoken-You know gods of the world are idols
Jehovah is the most high God

Group- All the other gods
They are the works of men.
But you are the Most High GOD
There is none like You. 2x
Soloist = Jehovah
Group-You are the Most High
Soloist = Jehovah
Group-You are the Most High GOD
Soloist Jehovah Adonai
Group-You are the Most High
Soloist- Jehovah Elohim
Group-You are the Most High GOD
Soloist-Jehovah Nissi eeii
Group-You are the Most High
Soloist-You are the Most High
Group-You are the Most High God
Soloist- Oo my Jesus
Group-You are the Most High
Soloist- Jehovah
Group- You are the Most High GOD
Soloist-Jehovah Nissi eeii
Group-You are the Most High
Soloist-You are the Most High
Group-You are the Most High God
Soloist- Oo my Jesus
Group-You are the Most High
Soloist- Jehovah
Group- You are the Most High GOD

[instrumental interlude]

Soloist- Most High GOD
African-Caribbean medley
This is what the church sings
Congregation:
You are good and your mercy is forever

sopranos HALLELUYAH

You are good and your mercy is forever

sopranos: HALLELUYAH

(REPEAT a number of times)

Soloist –Oo Jehovah
Group- You are the Most High
Soloist- Jehovah
Group- You are the Most High GOD
Soloist – You are the lifter of my head
Group- You are the Most High
Soloist- You are the lover of my soul
Group- You are the Most High GOD
Soloist Oo my Jesus
Group- You are the Most High
Soloist –Christ Jesus
Group- You are the Most High GOD
Soloist Oo my Jesus
Group- You are the Most High
Soloist- Oo I lift your Name
Group- You are the Most High GOD
[Soloist-Lift Him up!
Now we do one more time]
Group-You are good and your mercy is forever
sopranos-HALLELUYAH
Soloist -(Aye de, Aye de)
Group-You are good and your mercy is forever
Soloist –(me'gye onyame)
Group/soloist-You are good and your mercy is forever
sopranos-HALLELUYAH
Group/soloist-You are good and your mercy is forever
sopranos-HALLELUYAH
soloist- Oo Jesus Christ
Group- You are the Most High
Soloist-Oo My Jesus
Group- You are the Most High GOD
Soloist – Jehovah is Your name
Group- You are the Most High
Soloist-Oh You are Elohim.
Group- You are the Most High GOD
Soloist-You are Jehovah jireh
Group-You are the Most High
Soloist-Ooh You are Jehovah Nissi
Group- You are the Most High GOD
Soloist- You are the maker of the life that I live
Group-You are the Most High
Soloist-Oo Jesus
Group- You are the Most High GOD
Soloist: zobo zaba zebe zaba zobo zaba zobo zaba
Gor gor gor gor goorrr gor gor goorrr

(repeat)

AYE DE…
[soloist speaking]- now who said "drums cannot praise the Lord?"
Sings interjections and repeat" zobo lyrics" while band plays]

Soloist speaking: You know God asked the prophet jeremiah
"Look around You, what do you see?

If God asked me today "look around you Kofi, what do you see?
I will tell GOD
Soloist sings- I see a new season
all around
Group- all around me
Soloist sings- New season
all around
Group- all around me
Soloist-Fresh anointing
all around
Group - all around me
Soloist –Fresh revival
all around
Group- all around me
Soloist-Aaaa!!! around me
Group - all around
Soloist-Aaaa!!! around me
Group - all around me
Soloist-Uncommon breakthroughs
Group - all around
Soloist-Aaaa!!! around
Group - all around me
Soloist-Uncommon favors
Group - all around
Soloist-Uncommon miracles
Group - all around me
Soloist- Aaaa!!! around me
Group - all around
Soloist- Aaaa!!! around me
Group - all around me
Soloist-aarroouundd mmmeeeeeeeee
Group - all around me, all around me
Soloist-A aaarrrooouuunnnndd dd mmmmeeeeeeeeee
[soloist interjections]






video link to song:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q4KzCrpcLjo

video link to lyrics of the song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3VFZYaX2Z-8&feature=watch_response [described as an "Africaribb medley".


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Subject: RE: Contemporary African Gospel Songs
From: Bobert
Date: 06 Jan 12 - 09:02 PM

"Get Right Church", Mississippi Fred McDowell recorded with his wife's church choir... "Right church" in the older African churches meant getting "right" with God...

"You Gotta Move", traditional song played at African funerals, "When the Lord get's ready, you gotta to move" as in *moving to the other side (heaven)*...

Those two come immediately to mind... BTW, I spent a lot of time in Black churches in Richmond, Va. in the late 60's... I'll come up with some more "standards"...

BTW, Google up the late "Jessie Mae Hemphill" who sang a lot of African gospel/blues... Check her stuff out...

B~


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Subject: Lyr Add: Jehovah (You Are The Most High God)
From: Azizi
Date: 06 Jan 12 - 09:05 PM

JEHOVAH/ BABA BABA ESE*
(Gbenga Wise) Nigeria (Yoruba) 1999

Soloist -Oh-oh-oooo
Oh-oh-oooo [approximation of soloist humming]
Group (sings faintly)- King of My life

Soloist Jehovah
Group-You are the most high
Soloist-Jehovah
Group-You are the most high
Soloist -Jehovah
Group-You are the most high
Soloist-Jehovah
Group-You are the most high
Soloist-Jehovah
Group-You are the most high God
Soloist-Jehovah
Group-You are the most high
Soloist –Jehovah Lord
Group- You are the most high
Soloist the- most high king
Group- You are the most high
Soloist –God of everyone
Group-You are the most high God

Soloist-From the rising of the sun
to the going down of the same.
oh-oo
You will be my God
forever and ever, yeah
You will be my Jehovah Jireh
Jehovah Nissi
Jehovah Shammah Ee-ee
Jehovah
Group-You are the most high
Soloist-Jehovah
Group-You are the most high
Soloist-Jehovah
Group-You are the most high
Soloist-Jehovah Lord
Group-You are the most high God
Soloist-King of Kings
Group-You are the most high
Soloist-King of Kings and Lord of Lords
Group-You are the most high
Soloist-the mighty wind of Abraham
Group- You are the most high
Soloist-You are, you are, you are
Group- You are the most high God

Soloist- When I think of your goodness, oh-o Lord
I just want to lift my hands to praise Your name
Lord, you brought me out from a very wicked land
You set my feet on the road to stand
Jehovah
Group-You are the most high
Solo-Jehovah
Group-You are the most high
Jehovah
Group-You are the most high
Soloist-Jehovah Lord
Group-You are the most high God
Soloist-mighty mighty one
Group-You are the most high God
Soloist-And the Lord of Lord
Group-You are the most high
Soloist -You are the most high King
Group-You are the most high
Soloist-and the Lord of Lords
Group-You are the most high God
Soloist- Lord I worship your name
Soloist speaks-Let's praise the Lord with the guitar

(various jazz instrument playing; at the end of that interlude the soloist begins the song "Baba Baba Ese Baba".)

-snip-

* Transcription by Azizi Powell from video found at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6S2y5uX5Tb4. This transcription is only for the lyrics to the song "Jehovah" (You Are The Most High God)". As indicated in my first post to this thread, I comunicated with Gbenga Wise about his recording of "Jehovah, You Are The Most High God". However, I didn't confirm that my transcription was accurate. I should also share that Gbenga Wise said that this song was known in Nigerian churches before he recorded it in August 1999.

The title to the song "Baba Baba Ese Baba" is in Yoruba and means "Thank You, Father" In the case of this song, Baba (Father) refers to God [Jehovah].

I attempted a transcription of the "Baba Baba Ese Baba" song but stopped because I was uncertain of the spelling of the Yoruba words.


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Subject: RE: Contemporary African Gospel Songs
From: Azizi
Date: 06 Jan 12 - 09:07 PM

Thanks, Bobert for sharing those examples!

And thanks in advance to all those who may also post to this thread.

-Azizi


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Subject: RE: Contemporary African Gospel Songs
From: Bobert
Date: 06 Jan 12 - 10:22 PM

Didja check out Jessie Mae, Mizzi??? She is the real deal of African/American gospel... I mean, old time... A complete throwback to the 1920s and 30s recorded stuff that was the real stuff that got passed own from way back before there was recording... Jessie Mae touched the Africa of the 1600s... You hear Africa in her cadence... You hear Africa in her spirit... She's one of the few links... Hey, anyone can play the blues but not everyone has the DNA and spirit to transcend a couple hundred years and generations...

Check out Jessie Mae... She is the shits!!! (that's a good thing)

B~


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Subject: RE: Contemporary African Gospel Songs
From: GUEST, Azizi
Date: 07 Jan 12 - 11:00 AM

Bobert, for the sake of clarity, by African Gospel, I meant Gospel songs from those person born in an African country, or the child of people of more direct African descent than African Americans. That said, I'm aware that some African Americans call themselves (and other Black Americans such as me) "African".


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Subject: RE: Contemporary African Gospel Songs
From: GUEST,Azizi
Date: 07 Jan 12 - 11:11 AM

I have just added 3 posts to my pancocojams blog on the "Baba Ese" family of songs. Although I wrote yesterday on this thread that I couldn't transcribe those Yoruba words, I did find translations for some portions of the lyrics for different versions of the Baba Ese song.

From the first post on my blog:

"Baba Ese" (pronounced bah bah eh-shay) is a Yoruba song which is particularly popular among Christians in Nigeria. The title "Baba Ese" means "Thank you Father", with "father" here meaning God. A number of Christian Gospel songs with titles similar to "Baba Ese" can found on YouTube. Among those titles are "Baba Baba Ese Baba", "Baba Ese O", "Baba Ese O Baba" and "Ese O Baba". "You Are The Pillar That Holds My Life" is a line in certain "Baba Ese" (and similar named) songs. That entire line or the line "You Are The Pillar" is used as a title for those "Baba Ese" songs.

-snip-

Here's a translated clip of one portion of a Baba Ese song (in Part 2 of that series http://pancocojams.blogspot.com/2012/01/baba-ese-you-are-pillar-that-holds-my_07.html


Baba, Ese O Baba
(Father, thank you Father)
Ese O Baba
(Thank you Father)
Awa dupe Baba
(We've come to thank you Father)


-snip-


There are 12 featured videos in total in that 3 part series of posts on "Baba Ese (You Are The Pillar That Holds My Life) family of songs. One of those songs has a rather lengthy transcription (which was posted on the video screen). There are also fragments of the lyrics for a few of the other selected videos.

Best wishes,

Azizi Powell


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Subject: RE: Contemporary African Gospel Songs
From: Bobert
Date: 07 Jan 12 - 06:15 PM

Yes, Mizz... I do have this history of living primarily with African Americans in the late 60s and early 70s... Those were turbulent times and many of my more radicalized black friends were offended by labels/terms such as "African American" and were into everything African, including culture, language, names, etc...

There was a special by PBS on the blues that came out some 10 years ago and my friend, Corey Harris, went to Africa and got up with some African musicians... It was very interesting listening to him playing African music having never been to Africa...

I understand where you are coming from here and that is cool... I'm not sure that anyone here will have much history here with purely African gospel but I'm glad that you are sharing it with us...

BTW, just for the ties between true African music and African American music, Jessie Mae is well worth a listen... Not everything she does falls into that groove but what does is really interesting...

B~


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Subject: RE: Contemporary African Gospel Songs
From: GUEST,999
Date: 07 Jan 12 - 06:29 PM

Hi, Azizi. I don't know whether you have the following link. If not, it may be of help on Cocojams: http://library.stanford.edu/depts/ssrg/africa/music.html

Best wishes to you.


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