African Choral Legacy – Historic Recordings of Joshua Pulumo Mohapeloa


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Joshua Pulumo Mohapeloa Critical Edition

The 31 tracks on this album of works by of one of southern Africa’s foremost choral composers, Joshua Pulumo Mohapeloa (1908-1982) are unique. Recorded in various settings between 1936 and 2001, the tracks were mastered and re-issued by African Composers Edition on the CD African Choral Legacy in 2014. This is a sonic record of how choirs sang in southern Africa. Tracks 1-8 were originally recorded in Johannesburg at the Gallo studio in December 1936, sung by a male-voice choir from Morija, Lesotho, and conjuring up memories of a bygone age. Track 9 is a Gallo recording of the Manhattan Brothers with Miriam Makeba singing an early 1950s jazz arrangement of Mohapeloa’s train song, ‘Chuchumakhala’, which reminds us how common the crossover between choral music and jazz was. Tracks 10 to 31 are drawn from the rich repository of Mohapeloa recordings in the South African Broadcasting Corporation’s radio sound archive in Johannesburg, recorded from the early 1960s to early 2000s, a period when choral competitions took off in a big way. The transition in the style of singing from a small choir of voices from rural Africa in the 1930s to massed corporate choral singing in the early 2000s, is absolutely remarkable andworth studying for its own sake.

This CD is an aural history of southern Africa: wonderful songs by a great choral composer of Africa. Each track is a gem. Collectively, the 31 tracks offer a window into the untold history of 20th-century African choral song. Choose either MP3 (normal quality) or FLAC (studio quality) recordings when you make a purchase, and to download the free Liner notes and Tracklist. The audio sample on the right – to whet your appetite – is from Track 21 : Madikana High Students singing ‘U Ea Kae’, recorded in 1981.

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