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Seeking African music choral gems

I am looking for several African music pieces for a small SATB a cappella group. Divisi ok. 
on June 13, 2013 2:15pm
Susan - one of my favorites is "Bonse Aba", arranged by Andrew Fischer, published by Alliance.
on June 13, 2013 3:48pm
Please check out my SHONA MASS  - - 5 movements written in the style of music from Zimbabwe for chorus and African percussion. Four movements are published in one collection by Boosey & Hawkes - the 5th is published separately:
Tenzi (Kyrie)
Mbiri kuna Mwari (Gloria)
Munoera (Sanctus) -- published separately
Akakomborerwa (Benedictus)
Hwayana yaMwari (Agnuse Dei / Dona nobis)
Lee Kesselman
on June 13, 2013 5:51pm
I really like Jeffrey Ames' Tshosholoza.  I believe it is arranged for satb and ttbb.
Wana Baraka is also great. Santa barbara pub.  Ssattb, tttbbb, and ssa div.
on June 14, 2013 8:22am
Hi Susan, 
please consider my new composition "YaLaLay" in Swahili. Video and perusal scores are available on youtube, or you can visit to link through my website. SSAATTBB.
on June 14, 2013 9:13am
We do a percussion-heavy version of Dubula based on Stephen Hatfield's arrangement that's a big crowd pleaser. Very fun to do. You can hear a sample at
Sing on!
on June 14, 2013 2:00pm
I highly recommend this series - authentic South African choral singing - taught by rote.
on June 14, 2013 4:09pm
My chorus is doing Woyaya, arranged by Ysaye Barnwell, and they love it. Freedom is Coming is also always a big hit. Also, we've done two great pieces by Ladysmith Black Mombazo: Rain, Beautiful Rain and Homeless (well yes, that's Paul Simon too). All of these are very fine with a small ensemble. I have taught Freedom is Coming to the audience on the spot as a participatory encore.
on June 15, 2013 5:42am
Misa Luba is a Nigerian Mass created by Father Guido Haazen using traditional melodies and drum rhythms.   You need drums and a strong solo tenor.   The Sanctus and Kyrie are the most accessable of the pieces.
The anthem of the ANC, NKOSI SIKEL'I AFRIKA (now part of the official South African anthem) is a powerful powerful piece.   World Music Press published both an SATB and SA a cappella version that is based on the version sung by Ladysmith Black Mambazo.
Anders Nyberg has two collection of SATB arrangements of South African songs.   The fist collection. FREEDOM IS COMING (with CD), contains THUMA MINA a gorgeous hymn as well as the afore mentioned song FREEDOM IS COMING.   Nyberg, Anders, ed. FREEDOM IS COMING,  Songs of Protest and Praise from South Africa for Mixed Choir. Chapel Hill, NC: Walton Music Corporation. 
Cuyler, Patty ed., SING, South African and Balkans with CD (26 great polyphonic songs from community singing traditions),   2001 from Northern Harmony Publishing Company, 5748 Hollister Hill Rd. Marshfield, VT 05658.  802-426-3210
Stone, Mollie, VELA VELA, DVD & book (Striving for Authentic Performance in Black South African Choral Music)  (The DVD teaches the songs in the oral traditions with the essential dances)
Goetz, Mary & Jay Fern, GLOBAL VOICES IN SONG, VOL. ONE: FOUR SWAZI SONGS, DVD for learning choral music in the oral tradition.  Vol. One features four South African songs.   Video shows dances, gives pronunciation.  from
Applauded by an audience of 1
on June 16, 2013 5:43am
That's a pretty big continent. Here's a breakdown of what I've found to be good:
  • There are many great songs from northern Africa; this includes regional folk songs, great Sephardic songs in Ladino, and Sufi songs
Southern Africa:
  • Bonse Aba, (Bembe people from Zambia) yes, though i like the Victor Johnson arrangement (Heritage 15/2829H), especially for middle schoolers
  • "One by One" (Zulu) by Lebo M., from Lion King: Rhythm of the Prodelands (Hal Leonard)--jubilant and powerful! For my spring concert, I opened with "Circle of Life", including the Swahili.
  • Choral Folk Songs from South Africa by Pete Seeger and Robert DeCormier (G. Schirmer )
  • Vamudara (World Music Press)
  • Two Sough African Folk Songs, arr. Bruce More (Santa Barbara SBMP411)
  • I LOVE Jeffrey Ames's setting of Tshotsholoza (Walton). 
  • Baba yetu (Alfred Pub.), a Swahili "Lord's Prayer" setting, which was used in the video game Ciilization IV, continues to be exciting.
  • Sing, Africa pub. Heibling Choral
​Central Africa
  • Ditto on Wana baraka (Kenya): yes.
  • Vamuvamba (Kenya), arr. Boniface Mganga--earthsongs
Western Africa
  • Kpanlongo (Ghana): TONS of fun; published by Santa Barbara for SATB and TTBB, though it may be out of print
  • "Praise the Lord", processional, from Cameroon, arr. Ralph Johnson (earthsongs)
  • Funga alafia is always enjoyable and can work as a call-and-response with the audience
  • Yamaya Asesu (adapted from a chant by the Yoruba people), arr. Brian Tate--Alliance Music Pub.
  • Banuwa is always fun, too--works well with drums and/or "hand dance"
Here is a good general listing from Primarily A Cappella.
If you type in "Africa" or something similar in the Search area of several publishers and music reatailers, you will find quite a lot, and, these days, there are often scores to view and audio examples.
Remember, too, that earthsongs has a huge catalog, sorted by geographical area--and with many sample recordings and other resources.
And how about you and/or your students arranging a traditional song or two?

on June 16, 2013 12:58pm
Hello Susan,
Yes- the earthsongs catalog for sure!
I've recently become enchanted with several versions – SSA and SATB– of Ghana Alleluia. Percussionist and africophile Kathy Armstrong introduced me to it, and has an arrangement of it (Boosey & Hawkes), though it may be only in SSA. However, if you search YouTube you'll hear and see references to different voicings including SATB. One thing I like about this piece is that it is very accessible to both choir and audience, and is a great way to break into African repertoire. I'ts the kind of energetic, repetitive piece that invites drumming, dancing, and memorizing. Good for improv as well, if you have the occasional voice(s) that can do this. 
on June 16, 2013 1:02pm
There is but one answer to your quest. You need to contact Dr. Lawrence Kaptein, reiired choral conductor from the University of Colorado.  He can answer your question far better than anyone.
on June 17, 2013 3:06am
Please consider this music available from ECS Publishing by way of our distributor, Canticle Distributing:
SANDLER, Felicia A. B.
Meda Wawa Ase, #4985, (SAB), [Secular]
Nsa Ni O, #4984, (SAB), [Secular]
Sansa Kroma, #4948, (SAB, perc), [Secular].
Stanley M. Hoffman, Ph.D., Chief Editor
ECS Publishing Corporation (publisher) (distributor)
on August 20, 2013 7:44am
Nick's mention of Mollie Stone and her Vela, Vela instructional DVD is so good it bears a second call-out.  Her goal was to travel to the continent, live and learn in their musical traditions, and then create something which would allow her to share her knowledge with the choral community here in the States.  She succeeded wonderfully, and is excellent in workshops when you can snag her.  
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