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Origins: Kumbaya

Related threads:
How Do You Pronounce 'Kumbaya'? (13)
Holding hands and singing 'Kumbaya' (68)
Do you still sing Kumbaya (16)
(origins) Lyr Add: Come By Yuh (Spiritual) (18)
Why is Kumbaya a dirty word? (115)
(origins) Composer: Kumb Bah Yah (19)
Lyr Req: Kumbaya / Kum Ba Yah (10)


acorreia@if.usp.br 22 May 98 - 08:27 PM
wolfz 23 May 98 - 01:32 AM
Bruce O. 23 May 98 - 02:36 PM
Chet W. 23 May 98 - 07:33 PM
Peter Jeffery 18 Nov 98 - 09:32 PM
Joe Offer 19 Nov 98 - 12:01 AM
Paula Chavez 19 Nov 98 - 11:34 AM
Allan S. 19 Nov 98 - 11:18 PM
Ethereal Purple 06 Dec 03 - 11:50 AM
Jerry Rasmussen 06 Dec 03 - 11:57 AM
Ethereal Purple 06 Dec 03 - 12:06 PM
jaze 06 Dec 03 - 01:16 PM
AllisonA(Animaterra) 06 Dec 03 - 01:33 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 06 Dec 03 - 02:12 PM
Dave the Gnome 06 Dec 03 - 03:31 PM
Tattie Bogle 06 Dec 03 - 08:16 PM
Joe Offer 07 Dec 03 - 12:09 PM
GUEST 07 Dec 03 - 12:11 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 07 Dec 03 - 01:10 PM
Kent Davis 07 Dec 03 - 10:16 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 07 Dec 03 - 10:29 PM
GUEST,Les in Chorlton 08 Dec 03 - 02:32 PM
PoppaGator 08 Dec 03 - 04:19 PM
nancyjo 08 Dec 03 - 10:03 PM
Les in Chorlton 09 Dec 03 - 03:12 PM
Bill Hahn//\\ 09 Dec 03 - 06:27 PM
DaveA 10 Dec 03 - 04:37 PM
Tattie Bogle 13 Dec 03 - 11:50 AM
Jerry Rasmussen 13 Dec 03 - 12:41 PM
Candyman(inactive) 13 Dec 03 - 01:36 PM
GUEST,Nancy King at work 13 Dec 03 - 02:00 PM
GUEST,joyce3162003@yahoo.com 02 Sep 04 - 08:27 PM
GUEST 02 Sep 04 - 08:32 PM
Uncle_DaveO 02 Sep 04 - 08:36 PM
Strollin' Johnny 03 Sep 04 - 07:33 AM
GUEST,winterbright 03 Sep 04 - 02:31 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 03 Sep 04 - 02:55 PM
Wyrd Sister 04 Sep 04 - 02:09 PM
GUEST,Azizi 04 Sep 04 - 05:17 PM
Peace 04 Sep 04 - 06:44 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 04 Sep 04 - 06:55 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 04 Sep 04 - 10:14 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 04 Sep 04 - 10:44 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 05 Sep 04 - 09:22 AM
Jerry Rasmussen 05 Sep 04 - 09:45 AM
Jeri 05 Sep 04 - 10:47 AM
Azizi 05 Sep 04 - 05:26 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 05 Sep 04 - 09:06 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 05 Sep 04 - 09:07 PM
GUEST,ruler 31 Jan 07 - 08:54 AM
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Subject: Origin of "Kum-ba-ya"
From: acorreia@if.usp.br
Date: 22 May 98 - 08:27 PM

Hi, there. I'm trying to find out what is the origin of the word "Kum-ba-ya". I heard someone saying it was after the name of a god in afro-american culture, but others say it's just a distortion of "Come by here". Could it be a combination of the two things?

Any help is welcome. Please answer directly to me.

Thanks,

Alex Correia - Brazil


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Subject: RE: Origin of Kumbaya
From: wolfz
Date: 23 May 98 - 01:32 AM

I asked a friend of mine that teaches Afro-American history and music and was told that this song was introduced to African tribes by missionaries and was translated into the African languages. This was the version that was easiest to sing by English-speaking people.


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Subject: RE: Origin of
From: Bruce O.
Date: 23 May 98 - 02:36 PM

I don't now remember the details, but I was told that the missionaries got the song from a 'Campfire Songs' type booklet used in the U.S. at religion-based retreats. [Joe Hickerson of the Library of Congress Folklore Archive has the details. He's retiring on July 3.]


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Subject: RE: Origin of
From: Chet W.
Date: 23 May 98 - 07:33 PM

It's quite possible that the song was created solely to torture and humiliate Baptist young people (of which I was one). Back in the sixties you could not go to a camp or a picnic in my community without somebody whipping out an instrument and starting "Kum Ba Ya". Seriously, though, if it is a distortion of the English words "Come By Here" I'd bet that it started somewhere on this side of the Atlantic. Reminds me a lot of the Gullah dialect spoken in many communities here on the coast(s) of South Carolina and Georgia. And of course there are quite a few old hymns and spirituals that contain "Come by Here" or "Jesus Won't you come by Here."

Good luck, Chet W.


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Subject: Kumbayah
From: Peter Jeffery
Date: 18 Nov 98 - 09:32 PM

Anybody know the real story of the song Kumbayah? It's always presented as Zulu, or Gullah, or Pidgin, in origin. Was it really written in the Brill Building? Anybody know?

pj


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Subject: RE: Origin of Kumbaya
From: Joe Offer
Date: 19 Nov 98 - 12:01 AM

Here's what's said in the Folk Song Abecedary (James F. Leisy, Hawthorn Books, 1966):
There is a widely circulated theory that this song was based on the words "come by here" as Africans attempted to imitate these words spoken by missionaries. In any event, this fragmentary song became traditional in Africa, where it was "found" and brought to America, to become part of our tradition. As the world gets smaller and cultures mix, more of this tradition swapping is bound to take place.
The words are pronounced
koom bah yah, and the song is usually sung very slowly and with dignity. Many people use the English words "come by here" instead. New verses are constantly being coined. A few examples are shown here. The chorus may be repeated after each verse.

    Kum ba ya, my Lord, Kum ba ya.
    Kum ba ya, my Lord, Kum ba ya.
    Kum ba ya, my Lord, Kum ba ya.
    Oh, Lord, Kum ba ya.

    Someone's singing, Lord, etc....

    Someone's praying...

    Someone's hoping...
The only theory I found that was printed on actual paper was the one above, but I've also heard that the song was gullah, taken over to Africa by American missionaries, and then brought back as a so-called "authentic" African song. Whatever the case, it seems to be as good a case of misinterpretation and misunderstanding as you'll ever find in folk music. There are so many theories that it's doubtful that anyone could ever find out the truth.

Do I like the song? No comment.
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Kumbayah
From: Paula Chavez
Date: 19 Nov 98 - 11:34 AM

Good Lord, does this bring back long-ago memories of playing in the guitar Mass every Sunday.

We ALWAYS sang Kum ba yah during Communion, over and over until everyone was back in their pews. We used to roll our eyes at each other when we sang the "Someone's dying, Lord" verse. How on earth an African folk song found its way to St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church in San Diego, I'll never know, but once it arrived it became a fixture. For years afterward I dreamed of endless (C)(F)(G7) runs.

Peter, thanks (I think) for bringing back it all back to me.

-Paula


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Subject: RE: Kumbayah
From: Allan S.
Date: 19 Nov 98 - 11:18 PM

My Afrikaans Dictionary as follows Come=Kom Bye=By Here=hier As Afrikaans is a mix of Plat Duits [German] English, And words from many native languages anything is possible As I am not fluent in Die Taal I am not sure. I could write to friends in South Africa but it would take some to get an answer. Can give it a try. Tot Seins Allan S.


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Subject: Kumbaya
From: Ethereal Purple
Date: 06 Dec 03 - 11:50 AM

Does anyone here like Kumbaya?... no one seems to! I love that song. Especially when it's sung by Joan Baez. But then I love most of what's sung by her :-). Oh, especially her version of Guthrie's 'Hobo's Lullaby'... I'm quite obsessed right now.

Oh - is it Kumbaya or Kumbayah? And does it mean 'come by here'?


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Subject: RE: Kumbaya
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 06 Dec 03 - 11:57 AM

This song is still sung in black churches... probably in folk Masses, too. It got WAY too oversung over here. For me, it falls into the category of Jingle Bell Rock and It's A Small World After All. The question eventually isn't whether a song is "good" or not... more a question of whether you can stand to hear it anymore. Tie someone in a chair with a pair of headphones and make them listen to endless repetitions of Mony Mony and you'd get the same effect...

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Kumbaya
From: Ethereal Purple
Date: 06 Dec 03 - 12:06 PM

lol.

Yeah - well, I heard it for the first time a month or so ago :-). But then, here in India - even 'It's a Small World After All' isn't oversung. Hmm... maybe it is - but only in our school.


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Subject: RE: Kumbaya
From: jaze
Date: 06 Dec 03 - 01:16 PM

It gained the reputation of being an oversung folkie staple. But one rarely hears it now. I enjoy hearing it now and then. I like Joan Baez' version,too.


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Subject: RE: Kumbaya
From: AllisonA(Animaterra)
Date: 06 Dec 03 - 01:33 PM

And it's a song that has room for really wonderful harmonies that can take the edge off the over-familiarity.
I haven't sung it in years; maybe it's time to dust it off, for my school kiddies, at least.
Allison


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Subject: RE: Kumbaya
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 06 Dec 03 - 02:12 PM

Kom bye (variant spellings) in Afrikaans means come here. Mentioned in a previous thread somewhere.
I don't believe that the origin of the song has been documented here. Unknown in South Africa prior to the Seegar-Terry song?


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Subject: RE: Kumbaya
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 06 Dec 03 - 03:31 PM

My Daughter in Law made her singing debut at our folk club a few weeks ago with Kumbaya - Went down a bomb! I still enjoy listening to it every now and again. After all, no matter how often it is sung, a good song is always a good song:-)

Cheers

DtG


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Subject: RE: Kumbaya
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 06 Dec 03 - 08:16 PM

Also used to be a camp-fire song when I was in the Girl Guides: could that also be because of the Baden-Powell: S Africa connection or just that I was a Guide in the 60's when Joan Baez's version was popular?


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Subject: RE: Origin of Kumbayah
From: Joe Offer
Date: 07 Dec 03 - 12:09 PM

Hmmm. I wouldn't think there would be a Baden-Powell connection. This is one of those basic differences betweek the male and the female of the species. No self-respecting Boy Scout would sing kumbaya - unless it was done in in an attempt to impress a woman.
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Kumbaya
From: GUEST
Date: 07 Dec 03 - 12:11 PM

Hobo's Lullaby was written by Goebel Reeves. Arlo sings it well too.


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Subject: RE: Kumbaya
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 07 Dec 03 - 01:10 PM

Thanks, Joe, for putting the thread with the composer of "Kumbaya" (Martin V. Frey, 1957 and other copyrights) at the top. Kum* works but somehow I missed it. Written by him in the 1930s?

Did it became so popular that it need not be put in the DT? Perhaps the lyrics and chords given in Rise Up Singing should be put in the DT with credit to the author.

Whose versions sold the most recordings? I've got Baez stuck away somewhere, but others must have been big sellers as well. I know there was Peter, Paul and Mary, and .....? Did the Smothers Brothers make a parody or was that just an old TV episode that I vaguely remember?


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Subject: RE: Kumbaya
From: Kent Davis
Date: 07 Dec 03 - 10:16 PM

According to Cecil Adams of "Straight Dope" fame, both the song and the word "Kumbaya" came from the Gullah people of the South Carolina Sea Islands. The song was then carried to Angola by missionaries and later carried back from Angola by other missionaries (who apparently thought it had originated in Angola).
Gullah is a dialect of English, which explains the coincidence that "Kumbaya" sounds so much like its translation "Come by here".
(Enter "Kumbaya Gullah" on Google for more.)


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Subject: RE: Kumbaya
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 07 Dec 03 - 10:29 PM

Lots of fakelore about Kumbaya. Very difficult to sort out, but there is no evidence of the song in Sea Islands collections, and only late anecdotal evidence of it being transmitted by missionaries.


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Subject: RE: Kumbaya
From: GUEST,Les in Chorlton
Date: 08 Dec 03 - 02:32 PM

"No self-respecting Boy Scout would sing kumbaya - unless it was done in in an attempt to impress a woman".

This stirred a very deep memory for me. Something to do with guides and nurses,songs and the effect of being able to play 2 chords and groan a bit.

Don't knock Kumbaya, it was ok and very useful for a yoof moving from grunting to joined up words in the presence of young women!


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Subject: RE: Kumbaya
From: PoppaGator
Date: 08 Dec 03 - 04:19 PM

I'd much rather hear Joan Baez sing "Kumbayah" than "The Night They Drove Old Dixe Down"!


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Subject: RE: Kumbaya
From: nancyjo
Date: 08 Dec 03 - 10:03 PM

Personally, I like the version by Geoffrey the Toys R Us giraffe. Have you seen the commercial? They're in sleeping bags, only Geoffrey's is so long it doesn't all fit on the tv screen. The other's are trying to go to sleep and he starts singing something like "someone wants to play, Kumbaya". Cracks me up.

nancyjo


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Subject: RE: Kumbaya
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 09 Dec 03 - 03:12 PM

Has the sexual tension has gone out of this thread?


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Subject: RE: Kumbaya
From: Bill Hahn//\\
Date: 09 Dec 03 - 06:27 PM

Jerry r. is right---probably over played. Just today I was doing some shopping--super market, Comp USA, ==then lunch in a Chinese Restaurant.    I was happy to leave and get in my car and turn the radio OFF. How many more Jingle Bells Rock, etc; can one bear?   I guess when I was 10 I felt differently---but the season also seemed different.

Reminscence: You could play with the electric trains at Macys, you went to stores and not malls. Tom Lehrer had it right in his A Christmas Carol----listen to the song.

Bill Hahn


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Subject: RE: Kumbaya
From: DaveA
Date: 10 Dec 03 - 04:37 PM

I guess we can be a bit patronising from a distance, but I still remember discovering Joan Baez in Concert II in 1962 & feeling goosebumps as she sang Kumbaya. Yes, I did play it over & over (along with Danger Waters & What Have They Done to the Rain & Matty Groves) & yes my parents freaked & christened her "Moaning Joan" & certainly performance & production standards have changed over 40 odd years.
But, IMHO, that was THE seminal folk album of the early 60s & Kumbaya was the standout song. So I remember it fondly for the impact it had on me and revisit it now & again for nostalgic rather than musical reasons.
Cheers
Dave


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Subject: RE: Kumbaya
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 13 Dec 03 - 11:50 AM

Hear, hear to that! Well said, Dave! Don't let the cynics drive you down! (to Dixie or anywhere else!!) I've got a ticket to see her in Celtic Connections! Wonder if she'll sing Kumbaya then??


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Subject: RE: Kumbaya
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 13 Dec 03 - 12:41 PM

I'm not being cynical... there are songs I'VE written that I'm, sick of... maybe it's time for a new thread..

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Kumbaya
From: Candyman(inactive)
Date: 13 Dec 03 - 01:36 PM

Especially when it's sung by Joan Baez. But then I love most of what's sung by her :-). Oh, especially her version of Guthrie's 'Hobo's Lullaby'... I'm quite obsessed right now.

Just for the record, "Hobo's Lullaby," said to be Woody Guthrie's favorite song, was written by Goebel Reeves.

As for "Kumbaya," it is a lovely song, especially when being sung by a roomful of people.


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Subject: RE: Kumbaya
From: GUEST,Nancy King at work
Date: 13 Dec 03 - 02:00 PM

I seem to recall from thirty-odd years ago that "Kumbaya" makes a wonderful lullabye! Maybe that's why my kids grew up to love folk music....

Cheers, Nancy


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Subject: RE: Songs whose emphasis or meaning changed
From: GUEST,joyce3162003@yahoo.com
Date: 02 Sep 04 - 08:27 PM

I want to know do kum ba yah mean come by here


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Subject: RE: Songs whose emphasis or meaning changed
From: GUEST
Date: 02 Sep 04 - 08:32 PM

no, it do'nt.


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Subject: RE: Songs whose emphasis or meaning changed
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 02 Sep 04 - 08:36 PM

So what do it?


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Subject: RE: Kumbaya
From: Strollin' Johnny
Date: 03 Sep 04 - 07:33 AM

And does anyone really care? It's a bloody awful dirge anyway. IMN-S-HO.
:0)


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Subject: RE: Kumbaya
From: GUEST,winterbright
Date: 03 Sep 04 - 02:31 PM

I never objected to the song, but a year or two ago I heard Nick Page, a Unitarian Universalist song leader and music teacher BELT it out like you ain't never heard it before. That version, I LOVED!!!!!


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Subject: RE: Kumbaya
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 03 Sep 04 - 02:55 PM

Guest Joyce, the word comes from the Afrikaans kum bye (var. spellings) which means come here (posted somewhere above). Much fakelore about this song.


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Subject: RE: Kumbaya
From: Wyrd Sister
Date: 04 Sep 04 - 02:09 PM

A comment for those brought up in the north of England, working-class style: a little boy at school would always sing "Come back yard milord..."


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Subject: RE: Kumbaya
From: GUEST,Azizi
Date: 04 Sep 04 - 05:17 PM

I am a guest of your site and polite guests are supposed to ignore any crap they see or smell, but it makes me puke to read the comments that the song Kumbaya comes from Africaaners,the same people that brought us apartheid.

As a non-Gullah African American, I stand by the position that this spiritual is from the Gullah traditions and means "Come by here".

We {African Americans} need to be better at protecting our heritage from well meaning misstatements and conscious theft.

That being said, I do like reading posts here and am learning more about folk music in the United States and across the Atlantic.

However, it doesn't appear to be very many African Americans or other people of color posting here.

Sometimes race and ethnicity does matter.


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Subject: RE: Kumbaya
From: Peace
Date: 04 Sep 04 - 06:44 PM

"According to Cecil Adams of "Straight Dope" fame, both the song and the word "Kumbaya" came from the Gullah people of the South Carolina Sea Islands."

I had heard this or something a whole lot like it about 'Michael rowed the boat ashore'.


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Subject: RE: Kumbaya
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 04 Sep 04 - 06:55 PM

Written as the gospel song "Come by Here" ca. 1930 by Marvin V. Frey, who is not Gullah. Possibly taken to southern Africa by missionaries, but no proof of this. How it acquired the translated name 'Kumbaya' is uncertain. Either from the missionaries or possibly Pete Seeger during a trip he made to South Africa.
'Kumbaya" is possibly a word in one of the Angolan indigenous languages but there are similar words in Afrikaans: kom=come; by or na =near or beside. Where or how the migrated song was picked up in southern Africa remains uncertain.

No evidence of the song before Frey's text.


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Subject: RE: Kumbaya
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 04 Sep 04 - 10:14 PM

Another guess at origin in "The Joan Baez Songbook," Amsco (1964, 1989): "...this song had to travel to foreign lands and be brought back to us before it achieved its rightful place in our songlore. It started as a Negro gospel song, "Come By Here, Lord," was exported to the West Indies where it was rephrased in 'pidgin-English' as 'Kumbaya,' and returned to the United States where it is now a great favorite..." Was Marvin V. Frey African-American? He wrote other religious songs that may be found via Google.
"Joan Baez Songbook," pp. 130-131 with music and chords.

Marvin Frey, composer of 'Kum Ba Ya' [Come By Here, Lord] died in 1992 of heart failure in North Tarrytown, NY. He had composed over 2000 songs of faith according to an article in Time Magazine.

Pete Seeger has a different story. "...in the Library of Congress they played a recording for me of that song sung in 1920. Marvin Frey made up the slow version about 1936-1937. He taught it to a family of missionaries that was going to Angola and there they changed 'come by here' to Kumbaya, the African pronunciation [Note- there are several linguistic groups in Angola and it is entirely possible that a 'pidgin' was used, possibly incorporating some Afrikaans words from the then Southwest Africa to the south]. Then it was brought back here." SEEGER
It is not clear whether Seeger is referring to the music or to the lyrics in what he heard at the Library of Congress. I can't find anything that seems like it in American Memory. Closest I can find is "Come Lord Jesus," by Root, but not likely.
Chorus: Come, come, Lord Jesus;
Born to set thy people free...'

It seems to me that the S. Af. story of Seeger's came later.


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Subject: RE: Kumbaya
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 04 Sep 04 - 10:44 PM

Correction- I can't find any record of Pete Seeger visiting South Africa. He performed in aid of composers from there, and translated "Mbube."


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Subject: RE: Kumbaya
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 05 Sep 04 - 09:22 AM

Azizi: Glad to see you posting here. It is true that there are very few (if any) blacks who post on Mudcat. That says less about the interest of white folks in here in black music (because the interest is very high) than it does about the lack of interest of black folks in America in black folk music and blues. I'm kinda checkerboard on this. I have a black gospel quartet and sing in a black Men's Gospel Chorus in church but am white and of Danish descent. My wife is black, and so is half of my family, now.

A few weeks ago, I had a very exciting weekend when my wife's grandaughter and her fiance stayed with us. He is a young black minister from the south who is spiritually on fire, and has a great desire to learn more about music. When he told me that he loves blues, I started mentioning names like Mississippi John Hurt (because the young man is from Mississippi), Reverend Gary Davis and Leadbelly and he had heard of none of them. He had never heard of Robert Johnson, even though just about every white kid in America and England in the 60's and 70's was familiar with his name, if not his music, through performers like Eric Clapton. Now, I'm introducing him to his "roots." In the meantime, I'm trying to find more Scandinavian music to become more familiar with my family hostory's roots.

Songs like Kumbaya (when not played as background music over the speakers in the mall) are finding their way back into the black churches. There is a wonderful new hymnal, African American Heritage Hymnal published by GIA pulbications out of Chicago which has become a regularly used hymnal in the black church my wife and I attend. When the choirs and congregation sing Kumbaya, it takes on a different life.

Anyway, Azizi, why not become a member of Mudcat. We could use your thoughts and perspectives. I'm the only white male member of a church of over 1,500 black members and I feel right at home there. I think you'd find yourself right at home in here.

My gospel quartet will be singing at the NOMAD festival in New Haven in November, and I know we will once again be warmly greeted there.
The three other members of my quartet are black... two grew up in the south, and formed their musical tastes singing in black churches, listening to blues and jump tunes in juke joints, listening to stories from family members who were freed slaves, and listening every week to the Grand Ole Opry. They love bluegrass and old-time music, just as I love black gospel. The third member is from Kingston, Jamaica and has his own reggae band.

Music can transcend all artificial boundaries that man creates.

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Kumbaya
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 05 Sep 04 - 09:45 AM

And by the by:

Kumbaya is in the African American Hymnal as Kum Ba Yah with lyrics credited to Marvin V. Frey. Unfortunately, there is no commentary on the background of the song.

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Kumbaya
From: Jeri
Date: 05 Sep 04 - 10:47 AM

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.


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Subject: RE: Kumbaya
From: Azizi
Date: 05 Sep 04 - 05:26 PM

Thanks for the invite Jerry and Jerri. As you see I have joined the club!

I'm not obsessed with the origins of Kumbaya but I will add that it is composed using common African American characteristics such as repetition, and short 4 line open ended verses such as someone's weeping/praying/singing/shouting etc etc etc.) Also see yourDictionary.com which states that Kumbayah started in the 1920s as a Gullah spiritual song. However, that website also states that the Uncle Remus tales was written in Gullah language, and I'm not sure that's true.

Regarding the need for more African Americans to embrace blues, jazz and other folk music..true true.

While my primary interest is in children's game song, rhymes, and cheers and United States secular slave songs, I am very interested in helping to raise awareness about other Black music genres.

I also love to learn about other musical genres in the USA and elsewhere.

I learned about this website two years ago from someone named Frank, I believe, who visited my website www.cocojams.com because I had included an example of Jim Along Josie. I wasn't ready to join Mudcat then but I have told others about your site and will continue to do so.


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Subject: RE: Kumbaya
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 05 Sep 04 - 09:06 PM

I can't add anything about the history of Kumbaya, but like much good music, it's no surprise to me that it would cross back and forth across the ocean. When my wife and I were in Africa three years ago, it shouldn't have been a surprise to hear such wonderful reggae as we did. Jamaican reggae crossed the ocean back to the Mother land where it was embraced and claimed as a music that could speak directly to African problems. Now, Africa has a very rich heritage of reggae music all its own.

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Kumbaya
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 05 Sep 04 - 09:07 PM

Hi, Azizi. Long ago I was Frank.
I would like to get correct information on Kumbaya aka Come by Here, Lord. I have posted the information 'as I know it' but that, of course, is not the last word. Some of the singers of Seeger's time, I think, have put their own spin on the song.

Does anyone have a means of finding out about the song Pete Seeger supposedly heard at the Library of Congress, on a 1920 recording? It may be one of those songs with the same form (look at all the attempts to compare "Amazing Grace" with some Irish melody or another) but really unrelated- or it may be a clue to the origin.
As it stands, we know nothing earlier than the remake of the Marvin V. Frey gospel tune, which has not been posted. Does anyone know it?

"Michael Row the Boat" was sung by the boatmen in the Beaufort-Sea Islands area, and some 29 verses were noted by Allen in 1867. Unfortunately, the DT has an abbreviated representation and its origin with the black freemen and slaves of the Coast is not credited. It is likely new verses were added with each trip. See threads 31019 and 39335.
Michael
Michael


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Subject: RE: Origins: Kumbaya
From: GUEST,ruler
Date: 31 Jan 07 - 08:54 AM

Just to add my 10 pennorth.

I was under the impression that Kumbayah was from the South Welsh dialectual phrase "come by yer" - still used in South Wales/West of England.

Yer, is a prevelant form for here in the South Welsh dialect (some speakers use "hyer" - not too sure of the cross-over point) and in the Gloucestershire, and Forest of Dean dialect:

"yer t'is" - here it is.

is there any evidence to suggest that the writer was South Welsh? the phrase "Come by here" is not natural English, but is certainly a good Celtic [I am referring to the language family]construction.

Is kom bye natural Afrikaans? I understood the equivalent Dutch phrase to be kom op hier, which ruins the kumbayah sound altogether. I am aware that Afrikaans is a distinctly different language to Dutch, although ultimately derived from that language. Perhaps someone else can shed some light on the matter.

Likewise, Azizi, is Kum ba yah natural Gullah use? Would the additional preposition be added to the pronoun in that language, or, if the language is based on English, would not the useage be different?

Regards

Steve.


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