Monday, November 21, 2016

Winter Lightning: Baka Beyond and "I See Winter"

One of the more established "world" groups brings us our random tune for today. Baka Beyond, formed in 1992, calls themselves "the original Afro-Celtic dance band," probably to distinguish themselves from the Afro Celt Sound System which formed around the same time. Baka Beyond fuses Celtic and other western styles with the traditional Baka music of Cameroon. It started when vocalist Su Hart and her husband, Martin Cradick (guitar, bazouki and mandolin), went to Cameroon to live with the Baka pygmy tribe to record their music. At first Hart and Cradick worked with English musicians to try to recreate the Baka music sounds and integrate it into their music. However, as the group evolved it began to include more musicians from African countries such as Senegal, Sierra Leone, Congo, Ghana and Cameroon. The group has also kept its relationship with the Baka people, returning regularly to record their music and integrate with the music created by the band. The band donates much of its profits to rainforest preservation and at the request of the Baka tribe, has built a music recording studio in their tribal area and has helped the tribe deal with various social and health issues in their villages. The BBC's Andy Kershaw has said that Baka Beyond's music may be the definition of world music. This song, I See Winter, can be found on their 2008 CD Sogo (the album's title refers to a drum used to call the lightning spirit during droughts).