Mudcat Café message #1264692 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #65010   Message #1264692
Posted By: Jeri
05-Sep-04 - 10:47 AM
Thread Name: Origins: Kumbaya
Subject: RE: Kumbaya
Azizi, I also hope you hang around and post from your perspective.

There are the origins of songs, and then there are where they end up. A couple I can think of that are usually known because white folks sing them, but got from black folks are 'Michael Row the Boat Ashore' and 'Sloop John B'. Song origins are interesting to know about, but I think songs 'belong' to whoever sings them. It's good that the songs are kept alive, but I wonder how they sounded when previous caretakers sang them. I hope they still do, but it seems increasingly rare to hear about people who sing songs they learned in and from their own communities.

Songs' journeys are interesting, as is the way people adapt them to fit their musical style. Heard a heck of a version of 'Amazing Grace', which was call-and-response, and it was syncopated. Someone had heard it in a southern African American church and remembered.

As to dissing the song, yeah, Kumbaya was mandatory material for small children at camps accross the US. I wonder if we don't sing it very often now simply because it seems everybody knows it. Every once in a while, somebody will start it at a folk festival, and the harmonies are grand and glorious, and it's a powerful song.