Music

Moira Smiley Covers Lead Belly's "Bring Me Little Water, Silvy" to Celebrate Earth Day (premiere)

Photo courtesy of artist

Just in time for Earth Day, Moira Smiley releases a soulful a cappella arrangement of Lead Belly classic "Bring Me Little Water, Silvy".

Drought. Floods. Contamination. Rising seas. We are a world constantly battling imbalances in our water supply; there's no question that these crises are on many of our minds. How do we begin to heal?

For California-based singer and composer Moira Smiley, music was key to expressing the urgent need she saw in the world surrounding issues of water ownership. In a new arrangement of legendary bluesman Lead Belly's "Bring Me Little Water, Silvy", Smiley finds a perfect fit between song and message.

"This song came to life in the outdoors," says Smiley, "and is a call for water from a farm field. When we shot the video last year, there was drought and flooding everywhere, and this simple call for water took on a more urgent, wider meaning to me."

"His music has a continuing, profound influence on all kinds of musicians," says Smiley of the late Lead Belly, and here, each involved musician has her whole heart in the project.

Over the course of the video, nine women, Smiley included, sing in moving a cappella harmonies, their voices reminiscent of rural spirituals as they stomp and clap their way from dust and dry grass to a lush landscape full of blooms, greenery, and birdsong - a hopeful trajectory, underscored by the positivity shining through in the voices and on the face of each singer. The song itself is virtuously simple, its tone and themes unfettered by complexities - all the better for conveying some serious musical love. The only accompaniment to the vocals is body percussion, hands and feet moving together in a sequence choreographed by the Evie Ladin, herself renowned for bringing kinetic polyrhythms to her music.

Just in time for Earth Day celebrations, Moira Smiley's arrangement of "Bring Me Little Water, Silvy" serves as a reminder to consider how vital water is to the world around us and brings a soul-stirring anthem to a cause that truly deserves one.

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