African Choral Legacy – Historic Recordings of Joshua Pulumo Mohapeloa

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The music on this CD represents a selection of one African composer’s repertoire of short a cappella choral works from the 1930s to 1970s and is a historical account of cultural adaptation in sound. Tracks 1-8 were recorded in Johannesburg at the Gallo studio in late 1936 or early 1937 and are among the first recordings of choirs in southern Africa. Both the sound quality (preserved from a surviving but rather damaged copy) and the vocal quality, imbue the music with memories of a bygone age. Track 9 is a Gallo recording of the Manhattan Brothers with Miriam Makeba singing an early 1950s jazz arrangement of Mohapeloa's train song, 'Chuchumakhala'. Tracks 10 to 31 are drawn from the rich repository of Mohapeloa recordings in the South African Braodcasting Corporation's sound archive in Johannesburg recorded from the early 1960s to early 2000s. The whole album reveals major changes in African choral singing in the 20th century and Mohapeloa's extraordinary range of styles and expressions, from the lyrical to the dramatic and the folksy to the religious. Each track is a gem in itself.: accessible, unusual, and intriguing. Collectively the 31 tracks offer a window into the largely undiscovered world of modern African choral song, making a delightful counterbalance to the more familiar African commercial music of South Africa.

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