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Friday, December 23, 2011

Folksong: The Lion Sleeps Tonight

Lion 006

"Mbube" (Zulu: lion) was written in the 1920s by Solomon Linda, a South African singer of Zulu origin, who worked for the Gallo Record Company as a cleaner and record packer, and who performed with a choir, The Evening Birds. According to South African journalist Rian Malan:

"Mbube" wasn't the most remarkable tune, but there was something terribly compelling about the underlying chant, a dense meshing of low male voices above which Solomon yodelled and howled for two exhilarating minutes, occasionally making it up as he went along. The third take was the great one, but it achieved immortality only in its dying seconds, when Solly took a deep breath, opened his mouth and improvised the melody that the world now associates with these words:

In the jungle, the mighty jungle, the lion sleeps tonight.[1]
It went on to earn at least 15 million US dollars in royalties from covers and film licensing. Then, in the mid-nineties, it became a pop "supernova" (in the words of South African writer Rian Malan) when licensed to Walt Disney for use in the film The Lion King, its spin-off TV series and live musical, prompting a lawsuit on behalf of the impoverished descendants of Solomon Linda. [1]
Family of 'Lion Sleeps Tonight' Writer to Get Millions


Conveniently, this is a folksong we're already familiar with for the most part, so we won't have to spend much time on it considering we're a month behind and it's the day before the day before Christmas... though in comparison our December weather is a lot more African (as in tropical), than it would be in N.America this month! :)

This is our favorite youtube version:

Helpful links:
AO Folksongs
The Lion Sleeps Tonight - wikipedia

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