Quiet Revolutions

by Namvula

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  • Delicate copper bracelet with patina finish, inspired by the lyric from Njishe (Quiet Revolutions, 2017) "skin like the earth kissed by the rain". The copper is recycled from old geysers (water heaters), and each piece is lovingly hand-crafted by Elina and Memory from FREE, a woman's jewellery-making collective in a poor compound in Lusaka, Zambia, as part of this special collaboration.

    50% of sales proceeds go directly back to FREE, and to the two jewelleresses Elina and Memory. The jewellery is part of the special edition Namvula x FREE line, in which I reimagine the artwork from the albums Quiet Revolutions and Shiwezwa.

    Note that pieces will naturally vary slightly as they are hand-made - and so will be unique to YOU!
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1.
Mbuya 04:43
2.
3.
Zuba 05:58
4.
Boola 06:05
5.
6.
Nine Olimba 04:37
7.
Moto 04:40
8.
Nkondo 05:24
9.
Kolomfula 05:26
10.
Njishe 04:38
11.
12.
Prayer 05:57

about

* * * * “World music fusion with finesse…a confident, soulful performer” The Guardian
“…these are melodies that speak to the heart” The Sunday Times
“Contemporary masterpiece” Tim Garcia (Jazz FM / Musica Facondo)
“Here is a star definitely on the rise” MOJO
“Gifted song-sculptress…our very own Joni Mitchell, without the protest but with the sensitivity” DJ Ritu (A World in London)

Quiet Revolutions is the follow up to Namvula's critically acclaimed debut album Shiwezwa (2014), which captured people's imaginations with its unique blend of traditional Zambian music, fused with elements of Scottish folk, jazz and Latin. This second offering is a more mature, less genre-driven work, taking in Afrobeat, traditional, singer-songwriter styles and more. The joyous and raw freedom that comes through the music is evident.

Taking stories of lives of girls and women that have moved and inspired her as its basis, Quiet Revolutions skillfully explores the arc from ancestry, through girlhood and womanhood, into (and beyond) death, imagining a continuity of humanity over place and time. Although the initial spark came from her young niece, these are women Namvula met on her travels and during her work as a photographer, women who appeared in folk tales, or those whose lives she had read about and re-imagined.

All but one (Nalile) of the 12 tracks on the album are original. Nalile (Little Sorrow) is a traditional song that accompanies a Zambian folk tale, part of which is sung in the Zambian Ila (the traditional part) with a new section, inspired by Nina Simone’s “Blackbird”, written in English by Namvula. Although the album was recorded in the UK, three of the tracks were written in collaboration with two of Zambia's leading folk musicians who draw heavily on traditional sounds in their music. James Sakala (Nkondo, Nine Olimba), dubbed "the kalindula king", is seen as a new ambassador for traditional Zambian music, while Mumba Yachi (Moto) is more experimental, mixing traditional sounds with Western influences of rock and pop.

Taking inspiration from strong African female musicians such as Cesaria Evora, Miriam Makeba, Lilly Tchiumba and Angelique Kidjo, as well as Cameroonian musician and writer Francis Bebey and the Congolese rumba king, Franco, Namvula has created a beautiful album that allows musicianship to shine, but never dictate.

Track Notes

1. Mbuya
A love poem to her grandmother (who’s language Namvula doesn’t speak), reflecting on how love can exist even without words, and on the heart-ache of not being able to share life’s experiences fully because of the barriers of language.

2. Nalile (Little Sorrow)
Based on a traditional tale / song about a woman who is forced to kill each baby she bears as they are female as the husband wanted a boy. She eventually goes into the forest with the last child she has given birth to (another girl), and sits on a rock weeping and singing the song. The rock opens up to an underground world that is a safe haven for unwanted girls. The second part continues from this starting point, taking inspiration from Nina Simone’s “Blackbird”.

3. Zuba
A coming of age song written for her niece, telling her to always be herself, dance her own dance and sing her own song, with her face to the sun and her back on her troubles

4. Boola Kuli
A song about lost love

5. Night Song (Nikali kuyenda
Inspired by a young teenage girl who felt she had no choice but to be a prostitute in order to take care of her small child, despite the risks she knew she was taking. It talks about burying your dreams and keeping on walking, through nights and days, literally and figuratively

6. Nine Olimba
A song about overcoming the heartache of life and love

7. Moto
A song in celebration of the beauty of women

8. Nkondo
Inspired by the many stories Namvula heard and been told about women’s resistance in times of war. Often, it is men who are celebrated for bringing an end to war, the role of women often overlooked.  The song celebrates this role, and their strength - which is different from the brute strength of men (it says “my love is stronger than your war”)

9. Kolomfula
Inspired by the mother-in-law of friend in Zanzibar who shares the same name as Namvula's (Zambian) mother. When asked how she came to have the name (as Zanzibar and Zambia are so far apart) she explained that her ancestors had been taken as slaves from the borderlands of Malawi to work on the spice plantations of Zanzibar. The song reflects on continuity over time, place and space

10. Njishe
Inspired by a night spent in her grandmother’s village hut where she was telling folk tales that Namvula couldn’t understand, as she doesn't speak the language. The song is about trying to find your place and roots, and about how knowing where you are from allows you to forge ahead. Inspired by Congolese musician Franco

11. Quiet Revolution
A reflection on death, an imagining about moving into the beyond as a freedom and an unbinding, a recognition of the struggles an imagined woman went through to walk her own path and her strength

12. Prayer
A song-prayer asking the ancestors to take the deceased safely to the other side

For further information please contact: Siân Williams at Riotsquad Publicity:
020 7223 7441 or email sian@riotsquadpublicity.com

credits

released November 10, 2017

Namvula Rennie: guitar, vocals / Liran Donin: electric & double bass, guembri, programming, backing vocals / Yuval Wezler: drums, percussion / Mamadou Sarr: percussion / Phil Dawson: electric & acoustic guitar / Chris Williams: sax, flute / ADDITIONAL GUESTS: Kadialy Kouyaté: kora (track 1, 5) / Eugene Makuta: vocals (track 7) / Jerome Arab: backing vocals / Sonny Johns: backing vocals

Produced by Liran Donin at Eden Studios www.lirandonin.com
Additional production by Sonny Johns
Arranged by Namvula Rennie & Liran Donin
Recorded at Cowshed Studios
Mixed by Sonny Johns at Nave Studios www.sonnyjohns.com
Mastered by Cicely Balston at AIR Studios

All songs written by Namvula Rennie except: 2 (trad., Namvula Rennie), 4 (Namvula Rennie, Liran Donin, Greg Sanders), 7 (Namvula Rennie, Mumba Yachi), 6 & 8 (Namvula Rennie, James Sakala)

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Namvula London, UK

"a true original" ~ The Guardian

Zambian-Scottish song-sculptress Namvula blends the folk and urban traditions of her Zambian homeland with London’s eclectic music scene, creating uplifting and emotive songs.

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