Monday, January 11, 2010


Volume 7 - Francilia

Queen of Song

Between April 7th and 12th, 1937, in the town of Carrefour Dufort at Kay Moïse (the Moses compound), Alan and Elizabeth Lomax and Révolie
Polinice recorded a series of songs (and a short film) featuring a remarkable singer, a rèn chante (queen of song) named Francilia.

Unfortunately, Alan tells us little else about her, and we don’t even know her last name. However, the comfort level attained between the Lomaxes and Francilia is palpable, and the Francilia recordings are certainly some of the best, in terms of audio quality, in the entire collection. I would also point out the informal feeling of the recording sessions, with Francilia occasionally breaking out into laughter in reaction to people around her. People, truck
horns, and animals are often heard in the background.

Most of Francilia’s songs are ceremonial songs from Vodou. In this, her rendition of them on this volume is a bit artificial, because they would generally be heard in the ounfò with the ounsi-s joining the choruses or refrains. The call-and-response form of Vodou songs is sometimes captured in phrases such as voye–ranmase (throw out–pick up, i.e. call–response). With
a chorus responding to her, Francilia would no doubt be freer in improvising or varying her lead vocals. In one examples heard in this volume, however, a small group of friends joins Francilia to serve as her chorus. of rara songs are typically called sanba-s; those of konbit-s (work brigades),
sanba, or simidò. Song leaders in Vodou congregations may be called laplas kongo, oundjènikon, or (if female) rèn chante.

please enjoy the music of Francilia.

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