British singer and arranger Mara Carlyle and US singer-songwriter Willy Mason have come together to curate an evening of song and stories exploring music from around the world.
Bonding over their shared love of everything from Georgian choral songs to Ralph Stanley and Ella Fitzgerald, their event for the Voices Now festival on 9 July promises a fanfare of exotic flavours.
In advance of the show, which also includes choir leader Osnat Schmool, Veda Slovena Bulgarian Choir and the London Humanist Choir, they’ve put together some of the sounds that have influenced the programme.
Dig in for a celebration of the human voice in all its many forms…
Chorali – Gori Women’s Choir
I’m absolutely in love with the Gori Women’s Choir (and Georgian choral music in general). This wordless piece is so simple, so peaceful. I have to stop whatever I’m doing when I hear this.
Plastic 100°c – Sampha
For the Voices Now performance we’ve created an arrangement of this incredible song for up to 200 voices. It’s a beautifully layered piece and we’ve had a lot of fun picking it apart and recreating it. Can’t wait to hear that many singers filling the Roundhouse to the rafters with this sound.
I Got It Bad (And That Aint Good) – Ella Fitzgerald and Duke Ellington
I just made a documentary about Ella Fitzgerald for BBC Radio 4 and it was such a pleasure to immerse myself in her luxurious voice. This big band arrangement of Duke Ellington’s tune is so dense and sinewy and her voice is rich and graceful and exquisitely expressive.
The Legend of Twelve Robbers – The Orthodox Singers
I’m a sucker for basses and baritones and there’s a whole host of them here. The basso profondos of this Russian Orthodox choir are legendary – how they can produce such an incredible sound at such a low pitch, the mind just boggles.
Stand on the Word – The Joubert Singers
This tune is just pure joy from start to finish and one of my favourite tunes to play when I’m DJing. The piano intro is basically THE funkiest call to prayer and the gospel choir sings with the perfect balance of control and abandon.
Almost Home – Ralph Stanley
This song, along with I’m Tired, are responsible for my interest in vocal and a capella music. A song not just about death to my mind but also about the quest each of us walks in life.
I’m Tired – Bright Light Quartet
Life gets wearisome, this is a song that lets you put all your burdens on a plate for all the world to see and shout hallelujah I’m alive. Music can do that, turn your troubles into fuel to keep on going.
Tzona Ide – Les Enfants Du Monde
This is a version of the song which I used as a basis to create a new accompaniment for my song We Can Be Strong to be sung by Veda Slovena, a London based Bulgarian choir who will be featured at the Voices Now festival.
Strati Na Angelaki Dumashe – Perunika Trio
Perunika Trio is a singing group which includes Eugenia Georgieva, the leader of Veda Slovena. I have been following her and the choirs work in preparation for the festival. This is a particularly beautiful piece from the trio.
Malka Moma – Philip Koutev National Ensemble Choir
This is one I came across in my research that just hit me like a velvet hammer. Love beauty and tragedy. And poise. Goodness me.