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2009 - week 2, from 16 Jan - Barack Obama's Inauguration

PostPosted: Fri Jan 16, 2009 11:36 am
by Charlie
Seq - Artist - Song Title - Album - Country - Label - Cat no

3 - Nina Simone - Feeling Good - Blue for You: Very Best of Nina Simone - USA - Global - GTV RADCD84

2 - Ayub Ogada - Wa Winjigo Ero - En Mana Kuoyo - Kenya - Real World - CDRW42
3 - The Impressions - People Get Ready - Definitive Impressions - USA - Kent - CDKEND 923

4 - Orchestra Virunga - Malako - Virunga Volcano - Kenya/Congo - Earthworks - CDEWV 16

5 - Neville Brothers - A Change is Gonna Come - Yellow Moon - USA - A&M - CD 5240

6 - Pointer Sisters - Yes We Can - The Gallery - USA - Soul Jazz - SJR CD100


After a lifetime of being betrayed by politicians and their promises, we should know better than dare to raise our hopes as Barack Obama takes office as President of the United States. As if the task would not be daunting enough, the new President must somehow cope with the worse economic crisis of modern times, mounting concerns about global warming and a spiteful, opportunist and hypocritical bout of attacks on Palestinian children (ethnic cleansing in disguise?) launched by the Israelis in the final days of the previous President’s tenure.

But as so much of modern life is affected by confidence (or the lack of it), we dare to welcome the new President with music of hope, determination and joy.

Nina Simone [photo by Mario Algaze -]



Nina Simone was a paradoxical figure, alternating optimism and defiance in her songs with despair at the cruelty with which she was treated in her life. So shameful that she was denied the opportunity to follow her chosen career as a classical pianist; it was no consolation to her that she was forced into becoming a unique, uncategorisable and belatedly revered musician.

Ayub Ogada

The Kenyan musician Ayub Ogada (from the same Luo tribe as Obama’s father) was also furious to find himself pigeon-holed when attempting to pursue a career as an actor. After twice being cast as a houseboy in major western productions, Ayub dropped his Western name and pursued a career as a traditional musician, playing the ntiti. I first saw him busking near Dingwalls in Camden, north London, during the mid 1980s before realising what a talent he was when he played onstage at WOMAD St Austell a few months later. His debut album for Real World had several highlights but, despite many attempts and several jobs as a score composer, Ayub never managed to follow it up. Maybe Obama will hear about him and something could finally happen?

The Impressions: Sam Gooden, Curtis Mayfield, Fred Cash

If ever a song could have its moment, surely the time is finally right for ‘People Get Ready’, written by Curtis Mayfield for his Chicago-based group The Impressions. This was a substantial hit in the United States at the time (1965), and the group was a huge influence in Jamaica where countless vocal groups adopted a similar line-up and approach to lyrics (notably the Wailers, but also The Heptones, Paragons and Congos); still slow in catching up with Motown, in the UK Radio One never did understand or champion the Impressions.

Samba Mapangala

I doubt that Barack Obama ever knew anything about Orchestra Virunga, but this was one of the most popular groups in Kenya in the late 1970s and early 80s. The lead singer Samba Mapangala is actually Congolese, but he learned to sing in Swahili and with local Nairobi musicians developed a style that was distinctly East African. More recently Samba has recorded with the cream of Congolese musicians in Paris, but while his sweet voice is always appealing, he needs those East Africans to give it a context.

The Neville Bothers: Cyril, Charles, Aaron, Art

Sam Cooke

However optimistic Sam Cooke felt when he wrote ‘A Change is Gonna Come’, shortly before h died in 1964, he could hardly have envisaged a day when American would elect a black President. Sam’s own recording of the song is probably still the definitive version, and most people might choose Otis Redding’s contemporary cover as the next best. But I like to play the 1989 recording by the Neville Brothers, partly because they are all still with us, still available to play it live should the opportunity arise. Aaron Neville touches places other voices don’t reach.

Allen Toussaint; The Pointer Sisters

Used during the Democratic nomination race as a mantra, the phrase ‘Yes We Can’ occurred even more often than ‘a change is gonna come’, which was surely gratifying to Allen Toussaint, the song-writer/producer who introduced ‘Yes We Can’ in the recording by Lee Dorsey. The Pointer Sisters turned the song into a club hit in the 1970s, but I always felt it lacked a verse or two as the catchy but relentless chorus went round too many times. But it still feels like the appropriate way to end this selection.

Many thanks to Gordon Neill for alerting me to the upcoming date.

Listen again for 7 days

PostPosted: Fri Jan 16, 2009 11:45 am
by Neil Foxlee
The selection is spot-on and the nude photo of Nina is something else.

However, I'd suggest that what the Israelis are doing in Gaza is not 'ethnic cleansing', which involves the violent removal from a territory of one ethnic group by another. This is indeed what happened to Palestinians when Israel was founded, but other, equally strong terms apply to Gaza now.


PostPosted: Sun Jan 18, 2009 12:31 pm
by Charlie
emails from:

1. Paul Monroe, Huntington Woods, Mich.

Dear Mr. Gillett,

My eyes popped open rather early and something suggested, turn on the radio, discovering your morning programme (17, January) had just begun.
With a tear, Thank You for your selection of music.


2. Christine Standing, Oxford

Inspired choices from Charlie Gillet. Well done on this the eve of Barak Obama's inauguration. I'm keeping it for my mixed race grandchild - is it available on CD?


3. Lesley Sam, Sutton Surrey UK

Just to say how much I enjoyed the Obama show last night, excellent mixture of music that captured exactly the right mood. Cheers


4. Alfonso Fernandez, Bristol, England

Charlie, Thank you for the music.

I am a Spaniard, growing up in Venezuela and living in Bristol.

Monday morning is my best week day.


5. Jane Fleming, Whittlesey, UK

Fantastic, appropriate, meaningful and certainly enjoyable to listen to. Just wish you could issue a record of this.

6. Augustus Allen, London

Congratulations, sir. I do not think it would be possible to arrange a more auspicious collection as you have for this program. And thanks again for all those great moments of joy... and a happy (and most satisfying) New Year


7. Dwijen

Dear Charlie; just truly beautiful, poignant and heartfelt this offering of yours to mark Obama's inaugural. Each selection had that touching element to remind us that its a long time coming. And in addition to the songs, the rendition you opted for, esp. the Neville Brothers, was as you said spell-binding! If you could, the entire session needs to be reprised and replayed. As ever, thanks for these offerings.



8. Andie Killick, Dresden, Germany

Jambo Charlie!

I want to thank you for your wonderful programme (bbc world service) this week commemorating Obama’s forthcoming inauguration – marvellous, thank you so much. I think most of the world must be feeling that Obama’s inauguration marks a truly momentous momentous occasion – and your programme (which I am listening to again now) – I’m embarrassed to say - is making me weep with emotion!! Also, dance with joy. (incidentally I am a Brit with an African soul – born in Ghana, grew up in Ghana and Kenya).

It is so sad that we don’t get the World Service anymore here in Dresden (I think the whole of Germany is affected). However I remain a loyal fan and listen while working at the computer whenever I can.

Warmest regards

Andie Killick

Radio 4 - Pick of the Week

PostPosted: Sun Jan 18, 2009 11:22 pm
by zee
Heard Pick of the Week (BBC Radio 4) earlier acknowledging Charlie's tribute to Barack Obama's Inauguration by playing a bit of "Yes We Can" by the Pointer Sisters.

PostPosted: Mon Jan 19, 2009 2:16 pm
by Alan
My 'Pick of the Week' every week

Wonderful stuff, what a welcome

Hope White House radio is tuned in to World Service

PostPosted: Mon Jan 19, 2009 3:57 pm
by NormanD
The version of "A Change Is Gonna Come" at the Obama inauguration is good. A surprising choice of singers, too - Betty Lavette and Jon Bon Jovi. Even more surprising is her inclusion of the "missing" verse ( the reference to race harassment) that was taken out of Sam Cooke's original 45 release.

PostPosted: Tue Jan 20, 2009 4:14 pm
by Neil Foxlee
Presumably Betty won't be doing Let Me Down Easy for an encore...

PostPosted: Tue Jan 20, 2009 7:05 pm
by David Flower
so what was that version of God Save the Queen that Aretha sang??

There's another country somewhere that shares that tune as national anthem - is it Luxembourg?

PostPosted: Wed Jan 21, 2009 4:55 am
by John Leeson
Today was a very, very moving day.

Thinking of Charlie's show (and thanks for the music selection), two other songs have stuck in my mind:

-"Bourgeois Blues". Perhaps because I vividly recall seeing Odetta perform this, I think of her when I think of the song. And having read that she had an Obama poster up in her hospital room, to help inspire her to be able to sing at Obama's inauguration, I am so sad she wasn't here today, to sing... or to watch. But here's her take on the Bourgeois Blues.

- The other song is "Only In America", whose history is noted in the Forum

PostPosted: Wed Jan 21, 2009 10:19 am
by Neil Foxlee
David Flower wrote:so what was that version of God Save the Queen that Aretha sang??

My Country 'Tis of Thee. For details, see,_%27Tis_of_Thee

PostPosted: Wed Jan 21, 2009 10:58 am
by David Flower
it's Lichtenstein, not Luxembourg, that uses our national anthem tune as their national anthem. That Wikipedia is quick isn't it? . Already lists Aretha's performance yesterday in the entry on the tune