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Massai African Gospel Choir Records Album with Help from Nitty Gritty Dirt Band Member

Aimee Herd : Jan 9, 2012 : Vernell Hackett – watchgmctv.com

"The Maasai had a lot of patience [in addition to] their wonderful music, and I think we got it on this CD." -John McEuen

When Nitty Gritty Dirt Band (think '70s music era) member John McEuen received a call from an old friend in Africa, it was the start of an exciting musical project that captures the extraordinary sounds of the African people of Maasai.

According to an article in a recent WatchGMCTV.com newsletter, McEuen's friend—who goes by just C.S.—heard the choir one day and called the one person he felt would be able to help make his dream of recording them come true.

Maasai TribeC.S. Notes that the Gospel songs from the Maasai and Swahili people are based on tribal melodies that are both ancient and traditional, and that "these songs from the origin of the world are as important and defining to East Africa as the Delta Blues were to America. They combine with sounds coming out of the Congo to form something we have not yet imagined nor yet heard, and yet sound strangely melodically similar to American music."

Because of the distance some in the choir would have to travel, recording their music was a bit of a logistic nightmare. However, C.S.and McEuen worked together, though continents apart, using the internet to communicate and to listen to what had been recorded.

"We would record something and then C.S. would send it to me," recalled McEuen. "I'd tell him 'the walls are too hard. You need to get a smaller room and move them closer together... move the high singer back in the corner and put egg crates on the walls.'"

"It was really exciting to get a picture back showing this airplane hangar and they've got egg crates on the walls and an extra mic wall divider and they are recording wonderful stuff," he added.

The result was an album titled, Loruvani—Songs of the Maasai Steppe. The money raised from album sales are going to build a place for the Loruvani choir to build a community center in their village.

Says McEuen, "[The choir members] have quite an astonishing amount of hope, determination and belief, and put in a lot of hard work to make this happen. Seeing these wonderful songs that hearken back to another time, having the opportunity to get them out to the world and help the group get their community center, has been a lot of work but also very rewarding."







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