Happy Monday, everyone! Just for fun, you are getting double-the-fun this week with an extra dose of Meet the Kids.
Today’s kid is a precious little girl named Ephigenie Fatou. Her father works on a farm and her mother stays at home with her and her three sisters. Abenity Team, I would HIGHLY recommend going to her page and taking a look around. She has a cute little video posted and, while it’s in her native language, you get a good feeling for her sweet disposition. That’s something that’s always amazed me. You don’t need to understand the language someone is speaking or singing to get the feeling of what they’re communicating.
Speaking of singing, that is Ephigenie’s favorite subject! That got me started on a lovely little rabbit trail of popular Senegalese singers and musicians. Spotify and Apple Music-lovers, you may want to take a little deep dive on this: I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
Anyway, because of Senegal’s traditional religious and cultural structure, women are not yet given full equality. However, for those lucky enough to be born into or move to one of the larger cities, like Dakar, more opportunities abound. I started thinking – who is someone that little Ephigenie might look up to and enjoy listening to? She lives in Niakhar, which isn’t far from the large, coastal city of Dakar. It didn’t take long to find a great candidate and jewel of a singer, Julia Sarr. She was born in Dakar and has lived in France on and off during adulthood. She is revered as the go-to background singer in Senegal and has sung with some of Senegal’s biggest stars (a huge deal, especially as a female!). She also has her own music and it is a perfect blend of clear jazz vocals and the polyrhythms of traditional African music. Here’s one of my favorites of hers that I’ve been listening to today, dedicated to a late friend of the singer’s: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y4RumvnvtTU It’s in French, if you want to translate the lyrics. Your challenge this week is to listen to either this song or another one by a Senegalese artist. I think you’ll really enjoy it!
Music is a beautiful, shared thing, and I like to think that the songs I listened to by Julia Sarr today may have affected me in the same ways that they have or will affect Ephigenie when she hears them. I hope you enjoy listening and feel the same!
Things to listen for:
+ Call-like vocals (perhaps influenced by the pervasive calls to prayer)
+ Polyrhythms in the percussion (may sound like 2 or more different rhythms going at once)
+ Cuban-sounding instrumental breaks (Cuba had a big influence on modern Senegalese music)
+ Unusual (to us) instruments, like the the sabar or tabala