Mmadu Onyeuwa | Messages / Mensajes

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Messages / Mensajes

by Mmadu Onyeuwa

This is music with multi-lingual social messages from a Black Memphian who has lived and loved all around the world!
Genre: Spiritual: Traditional Gospel
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
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1. Memphis, I Love You
3:52 $0.99
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2. Children of God
2:02 $0.99
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3. Vibrations!
2:45 $0.99
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4. Margarita
2:57 $0.99
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5. Please, Mr. Charlie
3:27 $0.99
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6. We Must Be Free
3:49 $0.99
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7. From Whence You Came
4:41 $0.99
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8. Udo Ga Adi N'uwa
5:01 $0.99
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9. One Day!
3:23 $0.99
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10. Thank You, God
4:58 $0.99
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11. Chukwu Di Mma
5:00 $0.99
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12. Mmadu's Light Blues #1
4:00 $0.99
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13. Señor Machista
3:41 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.

ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
Today I will start to give you the stories behind each song on my CD. On a previous post I stated that all the songs are from a different period of my life. Therefore some of the things that I mention no longer exist but because they existed when I wrote the songs, I will not change the lyrics to accommodate for today’s realities. Let’s start with the first song on the CD: Memphis, I Love You.

I was born in Memphis, Tennessee in 1947. I grew up during heavy segregation. I drank water from the “colored” fountains; I sat in the “colored” section of the movie theaters; I sat at the back of the bus; I saw how the fast talking Jewish merchants on Beale Street would swindle you; and I saw how the church sisters would dress all up to go and listen to the sermons of the preachers that the sisters admired immensely. I also remember eating barbecue on the Fourth of July and then getting sick and going to the doctor without knowing why I was sick. Thank God in 1971 I became a vegetarian and gave up getting sick. I also thank Master Dick Gregory for teaching me how to be a vegetarian. His book “Dick Gregory’s Natural Diet for Folks Who Eat: Cookin’ with Mother Nature” taught me the proper means of fasting and of eating. These are the memories that I paint on the canvas called Memphis, I Love You. This is not really a social critique as some might think but really a fair picture of the experiences that helped to make me who I am today.

Let us now take a look at the reasons behind Children of God. I have always related with the story of Moses in the Bible even more than the story of Jesus. At the time that I wrote this song, I also wrote a play with the same title which was performed in its complete form in Memphis around 1976. A short form of the play was given in Lajas, Puerto Rico around 1986. I sometimes see myself as a person who will help to liberate the Black Americans from the snares of the evil White Man who has killed and maimed us physically and spiritually for centuries. After having lived in Puerto Rico for more than thirty years now, I consider the Puerto Ricans victims of the same crimes committed by the White Man. Thus, I think of the Puerto Ricans as “Children of God” who need to be set free from the unjust bondage that they live in. I will try to help to set them free, too.

Vibrations! is a mysterious song that came to me one day during the decade of the Seventies. I had no name for it so my former sister-in-law, Emma Jean, told me that the song should be called “Vibrations!” It sounded like the right name for me and so it is. Both Children of God and Vibrations! have a kind of harmony that was alive in me forty years ago but a kind of harmony that I do not readily use in my most recent compositions.

Margarita was written in honor of my friend Margarita Ponce, a Mexican writer who studied with me at Memphis State University (today the University of Memphis). I had a European girlfriend at Memphis State and that relationship caused a lot of uneasiness for some Memphians (white and black). Margarita Ponce was always there for us and she understood how my girlfriend and I could be in love. We met with all types of harassment from all sides but we stayed together thanks to the love of Margarita, Amparo (a girl from Spain who also had a Black boyfriend), Catherine (a French exchange student) and a handful of other friends and family members. We are talking about the time from 1969 to 1972 when I graduated from Memphis State University.

Please, Mr. Charlie is my plea to the White Establishment to let me live in peace. Black Americans often call the white man: Mr. Charlie.

We Must Be Free was written on the island of San Andrés (Colombia?). When I visited the island I saw that the real natives were descendants of Africans who had been slaves. The Colombians were kicking out all Nicaraguans at the time because Nicaragua was holding claims to the island. I was told by Colombians that Colombia had purchased the island from Nicaragua at some time. I know today that this is probably not true. The Nicaraguan government today still claims that San Andrés rightfully belongs to Nicaragua (2014) and not to Colombia. I asked myself at the time how it was possible to buy and sell the island without consideration of the people living there. So I asked the people of the island (not the Colombians or the Nicaraguans) who they wanted to belong to. Some said that they wanted to belong to Colombia; Others said that they wanted to belong to Nicaragua: But the mass majority said, “We want to be free!” So I wrote this song and performed it on the island of San Andrés. When I arrived to Puerto Rico, I found a similar situation and so I added a special verse to be applied to “Borinquen” (Puerto Rico).

From Whence You Came is the result of an experience that I had in Memphis when the Christian singer André Crouch visited the campus of Memphis State University. After the great show that he gave there, many of us went to the nearest McDonald’s restaurant to get something to eat. Most of the young Christians who saw show were all dressed up as if to go to church. There was a beggar on the grounds dressed in rags and maybe not smelling very good. Most likely he was asking for a few coins to get something to eat. I saw when some of these good Christian people turned their backs on him and criticized his appearance. After giving him an offering, I went home and wrote this song.

Udo ga adi n’uwa means “There will be peace on Earth!” I truly believe this but I got the concept from the studies that I did with the Jehovah’s Witnesses in New York City from 1973 to 1975. They believe that there will be peace on Earth for one thousand years. So do I. One Day! is also a result of my studies with them.

Thank You, God was written during the Seventies as most of the other songs on this CD. My good friend Marcel Holman made the first official arrangement of the song way back then and I have been using it for all these years. It has been recorded by a full choir being lead by the soprano Ruth Báez under the direction of Professor Robert Robinson from the Adventist College of Mayagüez, Puerto Rico. I will try to find that recording and post it some day.

Chukwu di mma means “God is good” in the Igbo language. This mantra continues throughout the piece with its translation given by me in English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Italian, and German.

Mmadu’s Light Blues #1 is placed here because it is what I am about. When I was a child, I was not allowed to play “the blues” at home because it was considered the Devil’s music by my mother and the Church. I never saw the Devil in this music. I find that its counterpart, gospel music, is almost identical to it. What is different between them are the lyrics, of course. The same feeling that makes the sisters and brothers jump and dance in the church is the very same feeling that makes women and men jump and dance in the ballroom. It all has to do with the African 6/8 or 12/8 beat. Most gospel music and blues are felt in this African beat. This is my religious space. Here is how I touch the souls of listeners and how André Crouch does the same.

Señor Machista is a song that I wrote in Spanish but it needs an English version as well. “Machismo” is found around the world so later I hope to translate this song into many languages. The song basically says that a man cannot exist without a woman and so he should respect her and treat her as his equal. Not as a servant!

Messages/Mensajes should be available around the middle of August 2014. Look for it on CD Baby, iTunes, Amazon, etc. Or get in touch with me. I plan to present the CD to the Puerto Rican public as soon as I receive my copies. Thanks.

-Mmadu Onyeuwa

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