Wednesday, March 23, 2011

De Paur Chorus - Songs of New Nations (1972)

After many African colonies gained independence in the early 1960s, the new countries received attention from the U.S., which saw opportunities for increased influence and commerce on the vast continent. Aid projects hatched in New York and Washington D.C. offices were sent to the "dark" continent, along with Peace Corps volunteers and CIA agents. American culture also flowed freely, a tsunami that continues to overwhelm decades later. Much of this culture was pushed through commerce, especially music, but some was official state business. The U.S. Information Agency employed cultural ambassadors and sent them abroad.

Leonard de Paur was an ideal ambassador. He grew up studying music, and in World War II formed The De Paur Infantry Chorus, which became a top recording chorus for Columbia Records. The publicity photo to the right derives from that era of his career, and here is an interesting article from 1948 that puts the chorus into context. A brief biography of de Paur can be read at this site. In the early 1960s, the now-civilian De Paur Chorus toured through Africa performing and, with proof now in your hands, learning about African music.

This rare record, from the defunct Roulette Records label, was recorded "live in Africa," sometime in the mid-1960s. The Chorus interprets traditional songs from Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya and Congo, "with Native drums and percussion." These performances are quite powerful; the chorus obviously integrated with the different percussive styles, and the singing throughout is splendid. Detailed song information is on the back sleeve, available in the folder, although no African musician is credited. Shame.


Anonymous said...

This very promising newborn blog and your presence here made me, honestly,really happy. we certainly need more than ever right and just presentation of the magnificent African cultural heritage.
welcome "on air" and to our hearts..

Rhythm Connection said...

Very kind, nauma. Thank you.