Jamaican Medley

Solas Market, Mi Cawfee, Mi Mamma No Wan'
Arranged by Paul Tucker
Voicing: SSAATTBB a cappella
Catalog number: AMP 0728
Price: $2.40

Jamaican Medley
(Solas Market, Mi Cawfee, & Mi Mummah No Wan')
arranged by Paul Tucker

Folksongs highlight various aspects of the lives of the inhabitants of a country. Because they are passed down from one generation to another orally, folk song melodies and texts vary from one singer to another. The melodies used in this medley represent my own recollection of these songs growing up on the island. The text, on the other hand, is compiled with the help of some of my childhood friends. To these folks I am forever indebted.

The three songs in this medley describe three views of the lives of some Jamaicans. The medley could be simply described as a reflection on “food.” All the songs have much more to them than I have chosen to use here. “Mi Cawfee,” for instance, has many humorous verses expressing how much the old lady who is singing cherishes her coffee.

The first song is simply a call to journey to the famous Solas Market, or as we called it, Jubilee Market. The second song is an old woman's confession that nothing is of more importance to her than her “bowl of boiling coffee in the morning.” The vocal accompaniment, in this piece, is meant to mimic the sound of an old coffee pot as it percolates. The third song is a child's insistence that his mother is not in need of “yam, fish, or coconut oil” from the market. All she seems to care about is dandy shandy, or liquor.

Even though these songs are arranged in a highly stylized manner, their original folk character has been preserved.

Translation and Pronunciation Guide

I have made every attempt to spell words from the dialect the way they are pronounced. The use of standard Latin pronunciation for the vowels will work in most cases.

Solas Market Kum wi go dung - Let's go to
Fi go buy banana - To buy banana
Tread bag or Thread bag - a moneybag that women kept in their bosoms
'Iggler - haggler, or one who haggles

Mi Cawfee
Cawfee - Coffee

Mi Mummah No Wan' Mi mummah no wan' - My mother does not want
Coconut oil - Cooking oil made from the milk of a coconut
Dandy Shandy - The meaning is not always clear because, on the one hand, Dandy
Shandy is a children's game (a form of dodge ball). It also refers to an
alcoholic concoction.

Paul Tucker

recording performed by University of Kansas Concert Choir,
Paul Tucker, Director

Click here to see a sample.

Click here to listen to a recording (MP3).

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