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Friday Playlist with Victoria Korovljev

Hello Fellow Music Listeners.

Welcome to OOPS Friday Playlist. My name is Victoria Korovljev (nee Pace), and I am honored to share with you the sounds of the Caribbean, as we inch closer to Spring.

For today’s playlist, I will be taking you to Jamaica.


Jamaica holds personal significance because my mother and her family are from Jamaica. I have grown up with a respect and interest for, quite literally, my “mother land”. Also, I find that our culture is multi-faceted and rich in its traditions, origins, and, of course, food.

What about the MUSIC?

Jamaica holds much musical significance, and most notably, is known for its musical export of dancehall, reggae, and ska. But, for today, I will be taking you back further in time to the origins of the musical sounds Jamaica has to offer. I want us to focus on the folk tunes that speak to the cultural heartbeat of Jamaica.

This is where things get interesting! For a small island nation, Jamaica has a rich history of traditional folk tunes and melodies. The folk tunes are sophisticated melodically, yet accessible to the everyday listener. Did I mention that there are a PLETHORA of Jamaican folk tunes to pick from?

SO, as a classical singer, why is my go-to choice for a playlist of Jamaican folk tunes???? This is all because of the Jamaican composer Peter Ashbourne (b. 1950). I was feeling inspired for my graduate recital and wanted to feature music that was close to home. I stumbled across Ashbourne’s settings of 5 Jamaican Folk Songs! An email later, I had the music in my hands and was excited to embark on the journey of learning this set.

In the playlist below, I will present what the folk song sounds like in a more traditional setting. Then I will give the timestamp of Ashbourne’s elevated setting of the folk song in the recital setting. You will experience how adaptable these beautiful melodies are to a variety of styles. Enjoy!

Long Time Gal:

· Dance along and enjoy the flavors and idioms of Jamaican Patois.

· Presented by Miss Lou (1919-2006), a cultural icon and champion of the Jamaican language and folk traditions. Notice the mention of the Jamaican Mento rhythms towards the end of the recording.

·Presented with Ashbourne’s setting. (*starts at 0:30) Notice how Ashbourne elevates and decorates the accompaniment.

Liza (Water Come a Me Eye):

· Arranged by Ernie Smith. Notice the traditional instrumentation and aesthetic of this sad song.

· Arranged by Ashbourne. (starts at 2:44) Now contrast the above the instrumentation to the piano accompaniment and harmonies. We can hear the loss of unrequited love in the drawn-out chords of the piano and the final call for Liza at the very end.

Fi Mi Love Have Lion Heart:

·Arranged by Ashbourne. (starts at 5:40) The harmonies are enriched and elevated to demonstrate the tension and love that one feels when their heart is as strong as a lion and everlasting for their beloved.

· BONUS - Here is a great TEDX talk by Michael Sean Harris about this folksong.

Banyan Tree:

· This song features dancing and moonshine making in the perfect night-out under the Banyan Tree.

· Arranged by the Braata Folk Singers. This song has two contrasting sections and picks up the tempo in the second half for a dancing finish!

· Arranged by Ashbourne. (starts at 9:35) In the beginning section, Ashbourne infuses the classical minuet with this traditional folk melody.

Nobody’s Business (but me own):

· The title says it ALL! This is about minding one’s own business.

· Performed by the Old Harbour High School from Saint Catherine Parish, Jamaica. (chorus starts at 1:14) This beautifully performed theatrical rendition displays the versatility of Jamaican folk tunes in many styles.

· Arranged by Ashbourne. (starts at 11:50) Notice the ragtime influence and style throughout the piano’s music .

Thank you for listening and I hope this playlist took your imagination to the warmth and tropical heartbeat of Jamaican culture.

The full playlist is available on YouTube.

To learn more about Victoria, check out her bio on our Diversity Council page.

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