From Bantu High Life
Abantuana, or “Children’s Song,” is about children playing outside, surrounded by butterflies, squirrels, birds, and stones. Moshe Sephula was born in South Africa in 1928. His mother was an accomplished drummer, well known for her hop, skip, and jump with the drum on her knees. Sephula’s early musical studies certainly began in his home, but his more disciplined work in collecting and compiling South African folk songs was done under Dr. Julius Herford at the Westminster Choir College in Princeton, NJ. He also studied voice at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London. The music prevalent in South Africa in the 1930s was highly nationalistic in character and content, but Moshe Sephula seems to have followed the cosmopolitan attitudes of his contemporaries. He set spirituals to conventional Western harmonies, overthrowing the doctrine that African music was in the pentatonic scale and not subject to outside influences. His first album, “Sing in African,” illustrates this European approach to African music. This album, “Bantu High Life,” reveals a more modern strain in African folk music, expressing the struggles, longings, and fears of Africans during the last hundred years.