13 Dec Malawi Mouse Boys
Those of us at The Music Junction believe talent is everywhere and inside all of us. You do not have to be born with music ability to be a great singer nor do you have to be rich to create beautiful music.
We came across an NPR story that is a wonderful reminder about talent. Also, you’ll quickly become enchanted with this music!
The Malawi Mouse Boys spend several hours every Sunday singing for their church. The rest of the week, they hunt mice to sell as snacks to travelers along a stretch of highway.
And that’s how they met Ian Brennan, a San Francisco-based music producer who has worked with artists such as Corin Tucker of Sleater Kinney, Lucinda Williams and David Hidalgo of Los Lobos. A few years ago, he happened to be traveling in Malawi and came across these young men selling mice and asked one of them to sing.
“And he played it so quietly it was almost inaudible,” Brennan remembers. “But when he came to the chorus, this group of 20 kids that was pressing in, from age 2, to age 18 or so, all kicked in on the chorus in multi-part harmony. And the sun was literally going down, with surround sound and one of the most musical moments I’d ever had in my life.”
Using only their voice and handmade instruments — guitars are built with sheet metal and tree limbs while plastic water coolers and bicycle spokes serve as percussion instruments — Brennan recorded an album that was published in the United Kingdom. In fact Songlines magazine named it the best gospel album of 2014.
“Their voices are really the core,” Brennan says. “They have such a unity that I think it’s very similar to the Carter Family or The Jackson 5, where it’s familial. They’ve been singing together their whole lives, people that have developed their voices literally together, that have learned to listen together, have opened their ears to each other and with each other.”
The Malawi Mouse Boys recently performed in California and will appear at the WOMAD festival next year in Australia. You can also buy their music here.
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