Chamber Singers of Haverford and Bryn Mawr with the Tema Youth Choir, Ghana 2007

Chamber Singers of Haverford and Bryn Mawr with the Tema Youth Choir, Ghana 2007

Stan' Still Jordan/Egbe Nukpowo (Today's Riches)

Voicing: SATB and percussion Percussion

perusal score

The African-American Spiritual Stan' Still Jordan is freely based on the version of the traditional melody found in James Weldon Johnson and J. Rosamond Johnson, The Books of American Negro Spirituals (1925; Da Capo Press) pp. 82-84.

Ebge nukpòwò is freely adapted from a traditional Gbòlò dance song heard in a field recording of the Zìaví Zígí in the Northern Ewe region of Ghana and transcribed by Kofi Agawu in his book African Rhythm – A Northern Ewe Perspective (1995; Cambridge UP) pp 114-142. Kofi Agawu translates the Ewe text as: 

Today's riches have made you forget yesterday; Send cloth to your mother in the grave.

Agawu describes the larger dance from which this verse comes as follows: “Thought to have originated in N吂tsie, the last major pre-colonial Ewe settlement, Zígí is a dance for young people on the verge of marriage and for already-married men and women” (p.114) As such it is a rich repository for wisdom and stories reflecting the values and traditions of the community.

About the final verse of the song adapted for this composition Agawu states that it “tells a woman who has suddenly come into wealth not to forget her dead mother. While your mother was alive, she worked hard to look after you. If you have now made money and own many cloths, the least you can do, instead of forgetting about times past, is to remove one of the cloths and send it to your mother in the grave. Short memories are here discouraged, especially when what seems to be forgotten is the very ecology that sustained one's upbringing and paved the way for future success.” (p. 140)

This arrangement was composed for a January 2007 tour to Ghana by the Chamber Singers of Haverford and Bryn Mawr Colleges. All arranger's proceeds from this publication will go to the National Folklore Board of Ghana for the preservation and development of Ghanaian native culture.