The latest album by Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble will surprise and delight, with guest performers and imaginative sounds that transform the traditional musical landscape. Sing Me Home is the sixth album by the Grammy-nominated Silk Road Ensemble and its founding member and guiding light Yo-Yo Ma — available from Sony Music Masterworks on April 22, 2016.
Sing Me Home is a companion album, developed and recorded alongside The Music of Strangers: Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble, a documentary feature from Oscar® and Emmy-winning director Morgan Neville that tells the story of the Ensemble and Silkroad, its parent organization. The Music of Strangers is slated for theatrical release in June.
Produced by Silk Road Ensemble member Johnny Gandelsman and Grammy Award winner Kevin Killen (U2, Kate Bush, Elvis Castello, David Bowie), the album examines the ever-changing idea of home, with original and traditional tunes composed or arranged by members of the Ensemble’s unique collective of global artists. Each piece invites listeners to explore the “music of home” through the individual experiences of Ensemble members, many of whom are immigrants. The result is a compelling collection of innovative and deeply moving tributes to the rich cultural heritage of the Balkans, China, Galicia, India, Iran, Ireland, Japan, Mali, people of the Roma, Syria, and the United States.
“Throughout the Silk Road Ensemble’s travels and performances, we have come to understand the wealth of creative potential that exists when cultures intersect,” says Yo-Yo Ma. “The music composed, arranged, and performed by Ensemble members for Sing Me Home demonstrates the power of curiosity, evolving tradition, and cultural exchange.”
In one example, the stunning voice of rising guest star Rhiannon Giddens, along with influences of music of the Roma, infuses the American folk tune “St. James Infirmary Blues” with a gripping intensity. On another track, improvisation by acclaimed guitarist Bill Frisell layers rich texture onto an enticing melodic conversation between shakuhachi (Japanese bamboo flute) and tabla (Indian percussion).
Grammy-nominated singer Sarah Jarosz pays homage to the late Pete Seeger in an arrangement of the classic folk song “Little Birdie,” featuring pipa (Chinese lute) and sheng (Chinese mouth organ). “Going Home” reinvents the wistful melody from the slow movement of Dvořák’s “New World” symphony, transformed into a beloved spiritual by Paul Robeson. The song is interpreted in both Chinese and English by vocalist and banjo player Abigail Washburn and Ensemble member Wu Tong.
From a haunting Irish march with renowned fiddler Martin Hayes to the musical realization of a Syrian village wedding, each track tells a unique story reflecting the artists’ own passions.
Sing Me Home saves one of the biggest surprises for last, closing with an exquisite interpretation of the pop standard “Heart and Soul” by the Ensemble with jazz vocalist Gregory Porter and — from Oscar®-winning 20 Feet from Stardom — two-time Grammy award-wining singer Lisa Fischer.
Additional guest artists include Grammy-winning vocal octet Roomful of Teeth, Cristina Pato’s dynamic Galician band Rustica, the world’s most prominent Malian kora player Toumani Diabaté, and the great Indian sitarist Shujaat Khan, among other international icons and virtuosos.
Eager to forge connections across cultures, disciplines, and generations, cellist Yo-Yo Ma founded the nonprofit organization Silkroad in 1998. Since 2000, the Silk Road Ensemble has welcomed more than 70 performers and composers from nearly 25 nations into what the Boston Globe has called “a kind of roving musical laboratory without walls.” Through performances, the creation of new music, and recordings, the Ensemble is an inspirational musical collective that draws on the rich tapestry of each other’s traditions to redefine classical music for 21st century audiences.
“Every tradition is the result of successful invention,” Yo-Yo Ma says in the documentary The Music of Strangers. “Human beings grow by being curious and receptive to what’s around them. A lot of people are scared of change, and sometimes there’s reason to be fearful. But if you can welcome change, you become fertile ground for development.” Sing Me Home is a vivid musical realization of that philosophy.
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Sing Me Home Tracklisting
1 Green (Vincent's Tune) (feat. Roomful of Teeth)
2 O'Neill's Cavalry March (feat. Martin Hayes)
3 Little Birdie (feat. Sarah Jarosz)
4 Ichichila (feat. Balla Kouyaté and Toumani Diabaté)
5 Sadila Jana (feat. Black Sea Hotel)
6 Shingashi Song (feat. Kaoru Watanabe)
7 Madhoushi (feat. Shujaat Khan)
8 Wedding (feat. Dima Orsho)
9 Going Home (feat. Abigail Washburn)
10 Cabaliño (feat. Davide Salvado, Anxo Pintos and Roberto
Comesaña of Rustica)
11 St. James Infirmary Blues (feat. Rhiannon Giddens, Michael Ward-Bergeman and Reylon Yount)
12 If You Shall Return... (feat. Bill Frisell)
13 Heart and Soul (feat. Gregory Porter and Lisa Fischer)