Dunbar on Episode 2 of Roots: “Never Let Them Put the Chains on Your Mind”| @ProcessHistory

Erica Armstrong Dunbar writes:

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Simmons on Landscapes and History in Beyonce’s #Lemonade

At the UNC Press Blog, historian LaKisha Simmons “explores the historic and symbolic significance of the plantation settings in Beyonce’s visual album, Lemonade:”

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DIGITAL: Banjology

Banjology Header FTD

From the website:

This website is a work-in-progress by Laurent Dubois, David Garner, and Mary Caton Lingold of Duke University. Our goal is to showcase our research on the history of the banjo in the Afro-Atlantic world, including historical documents, visual materials, material objects, and musical transcription and analysis. We focus particularly on Haiti and Louisiana, but also provide information from other areas along with the transcriptions of a wide range of banjo music.

Writing the history of the banjo, especially of its early formation as an instrument, poses important challenges. We have to return to the period of the 17th through the early 19th century, and to work from fragments to reconstruct what we can about the construction, sound, and social and cultural meaning of the instrument.

In recent years there has been a proliferation of excellent research on the early history of the banjo. For a detailed investigation of some of the West African instruments that inspired the construction of the New World banjo, and an interpretations of the early history of the banjo, you can visit Shlomo Pescoe’s three excellent Facebook pages: Banjo Roots, Banjo Roots: West Africa, and Banjo Roots: World Banjo

Read the rest. The site breaks banjology into five parts:

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CD: Drums of Defiance, Maroon Music of Jamaica

Drums of Defiance

Drums of Defiance: Maroon Music from the Earliest Free Black Communities of Jamaica, compiled by Kenneth M. Bilby, Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, 1992, compact disc.

From the Smithsonian’s website:

Featuring complex, West African influenced drumming and dancing, this little-known rural tradition is at the heart of modern, politically charged reggae music. The conviction heard here reveals a long history of struggle. During the 17th and 18th centuries, some of the Africans brought to Jamaica as slaves escaped to the mountains. There they settled, and over time, they became known as “Maroons.” Today, four major Maroon colonies still exist in Jamaica’s rugged western Cockpit Country and in the eastern Blue Mountains. Some selections on this recording were previously issued in 1981 on Folkways 4027. “..[A]n aural kaleidoscope, presenting small glimpses into the colorful world of the Maroon music of Jamaica.” — Sing Out.

Smithsonian Folkways offers a lesson plan (grades 3-5).  Or browse liner notes here.

VIDEO/DVD: Return to Gorée, with Youssou N’Dour


Return to Gorée, directed by Pierre Yves Borgeaud, 2007 (New York: ArtMattan Productions, 2007), DVD.

via official website:

“Retour à Gorée” raconte le périple du chanteur africain Youssou N’Dour sur les traces des esclaves noirs et de la musique qu’ils ont inventée : le jazz. Son défi : rapporter en Afrique un répertoire de jazz et le chanter à Gorée, l’île symbole de la traite négrière, en hommage aux victimes de l’esclavage. Guidé dans sa quête par le pianiste Moncef Genoud, Youssou N’Dour parcourt les Etats-Unis et l’Europe. Accompagnés par des musiciens d’exception, ils croisent de nombreuses personnalités, et créent, au fil des rencontres, des concerts et des discussions sur l’esclavage, une musique qui transcende les cultures.
D’Atlanta à New Orléans, de New York à Dakar en passant par le Luxembourg, les chansons se transforment, s’imprègnent de jazz et de gospel. Mais déjà le jour du retour en Afrique approche et beaucoup reste à faire afin d’être prêt pour le concert final…

The musical road movie, Return to Gorée, tells of African singer Youssou N’Dour’s epic journey following the trail left by slaves and by the jazz music they invented. Youssou N’Dour’s challenge is to bring back to Africa a jazz repertoire and to sing those tunes in Goree, the island that today symbolizes the slave trade and stands to commemorate its victims. Guided in his mission by the pianist Moncef Genoud, Youssou N’Dour travels across the United States of America and Europe. Accompanied by some of the world’s most exceptional musicians, they meet peoples and well known figures, and create, through concerts, encounters and debates, music which transcends cultural division.
From Atlanta to New Orleans, from New York to Dakar through Luxemburg the songs are transformed, immersed in jazz and gospel. But the day of their return to Africa is fast approaching and much remains to be done to be ready for the final concert…

VIDEO/FILM: Viramundo (with Gilberto Gil)


via official website:

After decades of sold out shows and international recognition, musician Gilberto Gil embarks on a new kind of world tour through the southern hemisphere. From Bahia, he travels to the land of the Aborigines of Australia and the townships of South Africa, ending in the Brazilian Amazon region. With the same passion, Gil continues the work he began as Brazil’s first black Minister of Culture – promoting the power of cultural diversity in a globalized world and sharing his vision for our future: a diverse, interconnected planet filled with hope, exchange… and of course music!

Viramundo was released in France on May 8, 2013.

The website provides information on the film, clips, and links to the soundtrack.Gil discusses the film with French music site QoBuz below (French):

See also: Olivier Barlet | Africultures – Critique | Viramundo, de Pierre-Yves Borgeaud http://bit.ly/ZQTPzw