Although a Lake Oswego resident, Aaron Nigel Smith’s CD Welcome to the Village! is anything but local. Aaron is joined on this CD by over 300 voices from New York to Los Angeles to Portland to Kenya. And with songs from Nigeria and Ghana blending with Bob Dylan and Jewel hits, this is a truly worldly album.
Although the music comes from across the world, it is still very accessible – even those sung in other languages. For instance, the album opens with Fanga Alafia, a traditional Nigerian morning greeting song, performed by children at Cura Rotary Home in Kenya. Partly because of the simple lyrics with much repetition, and partly because of the sweet voices of the children of Cura, this is an eminently singable song. (A portion of proceeds from the CD will benefit the children of Cura. You can read more about Cura Rotary Home in our Q&A with Aaron, here.)
Che Che Cole, an African call and response song, also encourages children to sing in a language otherwise completely foreign by listening and repeating back short phrases. The multitude of voices from One World Chorus responding to the call gives kids and opportunity to see how easy it can be to sing in another language!
While I wouldn’t say that any of the songs included on the album are “classic” children’s songs (no Twinkle, Twinkle here), many of them will be recognizable. For instance, Wonderful World makes an appearance, along with Bob Dylan’s Man Gave Names, and Bob Marley’s One Love. A favorite in this house is Copy Cat Scat, a jazzy song that allows kids to sing, clap, strum, and have fun with music. And of course, it’s nearly impossible not to sing along with the Banana Boat Song.
Although the selection of music is eclectic, Aaron Nigel Smith’s smooth and confident voice works like a ribbon throughout the CD, tying the songs together into a cohesive and approachable album. What really makes the album special, are the 300 children who lend their voices and sing along. From the soloists (including Aaron’s son on the beautifully performed Beatles song Mother’s Nature Son) to the background voices, these kids sing their hearts out. Knowing that these voices span the globe is a touching reminder of how small this world really is.
Welcome to the Village! will be available for purchase on September 4. You can check out his CD release concert at Mississippi Pizza on August 25 at 4. $5 per person or $15 per family. You can also see him at Music Millennium on September 22 at 3 and A Children’s Place Bookstore on September 29 at 1. These two shows are free.