What is Sierra Leone Music? Dr OLOH AND EARTHCDS ANTHOLOGY

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(image of Dr. OLOH from BBC)

While the world was mourning the loss of our most beloved Lucky Dube, Sierra Leone and Gumbay and Milo Jazz loves also mourned the loss of OLOHUFEH ISRAEL COLE or quite simply DR. OLOH. The man who when many thought the war would never come to Freetown boldly asked “Oosai we go go we den rebel go cam fo kill?” (where we will go when the rebels come to kill us). When Momoh was chosen as president he reassured him that “Wata way na fo you i no go run pass u” (water that is for you will not run past you…what is yours is yours).

Many young sierra leoneans know very little of the man who man the nation gumbay it up, hold my bobbi lef my wais fo my man, cautioning all of us that tap to me was not marrade oh…but really what was better than asking those congosahs “u coco roas oh, ow u manage taytay u coco roas oh?”

Clearly I am not old enough to have truly been able to enjoy and shake my waist to all the mighty Dr. Oloh had to offer…but I am though definitely wise enough to remember a hot tune when i have heard it. There is no party or wedding that you will drop a Dr. OLOH beat that you wont see the old mamys and granpas getting up to do the “two step”

It is sometimes a cliche when people say its the end of an era…but truly and sincerely DR OLOH was the last of the GREATS of the pre hiphop dominated salone music era, the last of the OLD ROGIEs and the EBENEZAR CALENDARs….the dons and godfathers of salone pop music. I mean i like the Emersons and K mans of the world but they will never be have the metaphorical lyrical diabolical sweetness of DR OLOH….the ability to say alot and very little in a couple words

But really what is Sierra Leone music??

A couple weeks ago a got an email from a man (Luke Wasserman) who had read my blog and wanted to share some incredible traditional and oh so good salone music. Luke spent 17 months in Sierra Leone making an anthology of music from sierra leone for EARTHCDS. I was really blown away by one of the artists on the volume whose music video (“withouth money, no family”) i was able to see on a utube link that Luke sent to me. He is blind, poor, and brilliant. His name….SORIE KONDIremember where you heard it first cause u will be hearing that name again soon. Luke describes Sorie as “Impossibly stoic, surprisingly down-to-earth, endlessly cheerful and witty”

Here is an excerpt from his Producers Notes that you can fine HERE:

” I lived in Sierra Leone for 17 months in 2006-2007. My base was a town called Tintafor. I liked this location for a lot of reasons. Tintafor is a village of perhaps 1000 people in a semi-rural coastal area known as Lungi. The fact that the international airport is nearby has had a great impact on this region. Freetown is located on a mountainous peninsula, so they were forced to build the airport across a deep bay of water where the land is flat.”

“Being in Tintafor for 17 months meant that I could take my time producing the anthology. I didn’t really seek out music. I usually just stumbled upon it, and when I found something good I would start spending time with the musicians. If I liked the music enough to make a major time investment, then I would ask them if they were interested in being featured on the next volume. Fortunately, everyone I asked gave me an enthusiastic response, although they all had different reasons for doing it. Most of them did not completely trust me at first, but over time that changed of course, and the relationships I developed with the musicians were an extremely rewarding aspect of this project. “

“The memories [of the war] are still very recent and quite painful, but overall, the artists I recorded had a positive and sometimes amazingly inspirational message to communicate in their songs. If I did my job well, their stories are told in a powerful way on the CDs and in the commentary and song translations you will find in the liner notes.”

If you want to hear more Sierra Leone music visit the earth CDS site and check out the Sierra Leone Anthology...scroll down the page past the other african countries down to S and u will find it. I think that we should all be greatful that this compilation has been made. Generations of music lovers and Sierra Leoneans will always have this piece of our culture as evidence of our musical genius and cultural uniqueness and an answer to WHAT IS SIERRA LEONE MUSIC.

So as we mourn doctor OLOH and celebrate the music remember that all is not lost and music lasts forever…BUY yourself a volume of the EARTHCDS ANTHOLOGY OF SIERRA LEONE or buy the entire anthology…relax and enjoy

  • Tamba Lamin