by Robert Wilkinson
This is a special musical treat! Today we remember the death day of Solomon Linda, who in 1939 with his group the Evening Birds gave us the immortal South African folk song, "Mubube," which the world knows as "Wimoweh," or "The Lion Sleeps Tonight."
This is one of the most famous songs in the world, and it's been recorded by more than 150 artists. Solomon Linda wrote it in the 1920s, and it's never been out of the public heart since then.
From Wikipedia, we find that Linda was paid a pittance for the song rights, and never benefited from the song's success. He was ripped off in countless ways by unscrupulous men on several continents who were more than willing to put their own names as authors while also grabbing publishing rights. It seems that until recently only Pete Seeger did the right thing, sending Linda's estate a fair sum from his own performance royalties. As a result of a suit in 2004-06, now the estate has a decent settlement.
I found the original 1939 recording by Solomon Linda, and figured you might want to hear how this tune has evolved through the decades. For your enjoyment, "Mubube!"
Pete Seeger and the Weavers did the next definitive version in 1952, calling it "Wimoweh." Backed by the Gordon Jenkins orchestra, here's a big band version of "Wimoweh."
Here's another Weavers version (blessedly without the orchestra!) of "Wimoweh."
25 years later, here they are again! Pete Seeger & The Weavers performing "Wimoweh."
Also from 1952, the Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra doing a stompin' swing version of "Wimoweh."
Performing live, many years after their original hit, here are the Tokens doing a sped up version of "The Lion Sleeps Tonight."
This great 2010 performance by Jay Siegel and the Tokens is really well done! Here's "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" - and yes, Jay really does hit all those high notes!
Here's another great performance by Jay and the Tokens! "The Lion Sleeps Tonight." (I still can't figure out how anyone can sing that high without missing notes and their voices cracking! Wow!)
Here's the original Tokens studio version, with those incredible soaring operatic vocals by Anita Darian! "The Lion Sleeps Tonight"
Now we move into several great performances of the song done by Africans. From Africa's First Lady of Music, the mighty voice of Ms. Miriam Makeba doing "Mbube."
Here's the Soweto Gospel Choir doing "The Lion Sleeps Tonight."
Here's the studio version by Ladysmith Black Mambazo doing "The Lion Sleeps Tonight."
We'll close today with a great acapella version by Ladysmith Black Mambazo with the Mint Julips doing "The Lion Sleeps Tonight."
Thanks for the immortal tune, Solomon. I'm glad that your descendants are benefiting from your genius, and that you have been given the authorship due you. I suppose occasionally the world does the right thing....
© Copyright 2012 Robert Wilkinson