Felipe Lara, a Brazilian-American composer
praised by the New York Times and other
critics for his brilliant modern music, rates collaboration with
other musicians the most important aspect of his work.
Aline Sitoé Diatta (1920–1944) was a leader in the indigenous
religion of the Jola, an ethnic group based in the southernmost
region of Senegal. In 1941, a time of severe drought and
intensified colonial demands, she founded a new shrine that
brought sorely needed rains and earned her a dedicated
following. She also advocated religious reforms that would
counter the spread of Christianity, re-center direct human
relationships with the creator Emite, and promote traditional
rice-farming in rejection of French-implemented cash cropping.
She was arrested by the French colonial government in 1943 for
“compromising the internal security of the colony” and died at
an internment camp in Mali in 1944. In this talk, I will
explore a collection of twenty-nine songs attributed to Diatta
from the perspectives of ecomusicology and relational ontology.
I will trace Diatta’s living legacy as an inspiration for
contemporary Jola musicians as well. Given the impossibility of
international travel in the past year, I will also present
preliminary results from an ongoing long-distance collaboration
with Jola musician Joël Bassene, whom I commissioned to compose
new melodies for the Diatta song collection as an experiment in
Scott Linford is an Assistant
Professor of Ethnomusicology at the University of Cincinnati
College-Conservatory of Music. He has conducted musical fieldwork
in West Africa, Central America, and the United States around
themes of participation and musical experience, ethnicity,
gender, agriculture and the environment, musical geographies, and
colonial and post-colonial politics. Raised in the San Francisco
Bay Area, he holds an MA and PhD in Ethnomusicology from UCLA.