Various Artists

The Rough Guide to African Music for Children

by Deanne Sole

11 June 2013

 
cover art

Various Artists

The Rough Guide to African Music for Children - World Music Network

(World Music Network)
US: 27 May 2013
UK: 28 May 2013

When World Music Network released its first Rough Guide to African Music for Children in 2005, it told us that the tracks had been chosen by children themselves. This new African Music for Children doesn’t come with the same information, and, as if giving you a conscious sign that an adult mind is almost definitely responsible, some of the songs have been selected for their inspiring lyrics. Busi Mhlongo, late of Natal, warns the kiddies that if they don’t listen to their parents they will end up homeless. But she doesn’t do it in in English, so the effect will be almost utterly lost, seeing that African Music is being marketed to an English-speaking audience.

If this album is genuinely for children—for their visceral appreciation—and not for their more knowing and literate small-print-reading parents, then the Mhlongo track is a strange choice. And when I try to work out the compiler’s aims and decide to be guided by the words “joyful” and “playful” in the literature, it’s hard to fathom some of the other choices as well. I don’t insult Vieux Farka Touré‘s “Fafa” if I say that its prime goal in life is not to be joyful or playful. “Soma Kijana”, by Sauti Sol of Kenya, ends with Muppety noises and join-in-with-us laughter, which makes it a more obvious inclusion. And the song is good, too—it’s independently skilful, smart and catchy, even without the Muppeting. In fact, the best thing you can say about this album is that it trusts the child-audience to recognise well-made music when it hears it. It doesn’t talk down. Otherwise, it seems random. A slow song, OK, but why this one and not another?

The Rough Guide to African Music for Children - World Music Network

Rating:

 

We all know how critical it is to keep independent voices alive and strong on the Internet. Please consider a donation to support our work as independent cultural critics and historians. Your donation will help PopMatters stay viable through these changing and challenging times where costs have risen and advertising has dropped precipitously. We need your help to keep PopMatters strong and growing. Thank you.

 

//comments
//Mixed media
//Blogs

Saul Williams Commands Attention at Summerstage (Photos + Video)

// Notes from the Road

"Saul Williams played a free, powerful Summerstage show ahead of his appearance at Afropunk this weekend.

READ the article