Bele Mama – Cameroon, West Africa

This is a great ice-breaker of a song! The perfect opener. It gets your group singing in harmony in a matter of minutes. Possible meaning is “Mama come out and play!” When I first learned this, I learned that it was from the Torres Straight Islands and that it meant “Beautiful Earth.” The more research I do, the more I find that it’s actually from West Africa and has traveled and traveled far and wide. I learned it off of a “WombSong” CD. Enjoy!

This song is in the public domain
Arrangement by Heather Houston
www.heatherhoustonmusic.com

Lyrics:

Bele mama, bele mama ee ay
Bele mama, bele mama ee ay
Bele mama, bele mama, bele mama, bele mama,
Bele mama, bele mama ee eh

Earth My Body – Source Unknown

I’ve known and sung this beautiful chant in women’s circles for many years. It’s an invitation to feel one with the Earth, a reminder of our sacred connection to and responsibility for the more than human world. The composer is unknown, and the song is in the public domain.

Arrangement by Heather Houston

Lyrics:

Earth my body,
Water my blood,
Air my breath
and fire my spirit

Lingmara – Australian Aboriginal Chant arr. by Tom E. Lewis

I love gathering my communities of singers together with this beautiful chant. I learned it from one of my sisters on the path of song leading, Maggie Wheeler, who’s source was the Melbourne Millennium Choir.

Possible Translation: Calling all people to come together as one.

Lyrics:
Lingmara lingmara gamba
Lingmara lingmara gamba
Lingmara lingmara gamba

This chant is in the public domain.

Chant to Nana by Heather Houston

In the Yoruba traditions, Nana is the Great Grandmother of all the Orishas, the Grandmother of our sacred waters, and the Mother of the Universe. This wise and revered Orisha embodies the spirit of the earth, the moon, the rain, mud, swamps and fresh spring waters. She is the energy of transformative healing powers. She watches over the women and is the protector of everything female. It is said that she has very little patience for men and surrounds herself mainly with priestesses. Women find comfort in her knowledge and strength. They flock to her for guidance and spiritual healing.

For many years I chanted chants to Nana with my teacher Alba Lirio. One day when I was driving through the hills of Marin, tending to my broken heart, an original melody flowed through me with lyrics to Nana. I clearly needed the healing energy she brings, and have been forever grateful for the gift of this chant. The women in my circles adore it as well.

Lyrics:

Part 1: (the round)
Eh na na Eh na na Eh na na, Eh na na Eh na na Eh

Part 2: (the hight part)
Eh di na na eh wa
Eh wa eh wa
Eh wa eh wa eh

Part 3: (the low part)
Eh di na na eh wa
Eh wa eh wa
Eh wa eh wa

Zominamina from the Ivory Coast

A gathering song from the Ivory Coast. I learned this one from an Inkululeko CD back in 2000 when I was teaching elementary school. I arranged the harmonies for my students. It became a favorite for all of the grades, every year. Adults love it too! 😉

Try keeping the rhythm in your hands or feet as you sing it.

This song is in the public domain.

Lyrics:

Zominamina eh eh
Wake wake eh eh eh
Zominamina zonga le wa
Ana wa ah ah

Zongo eh eh eh
Zongo eh eh eh
Zominamina zonga le wa
Ana wa ah ah

Rainforest Chant from Ituri Rainforest (Democratic Republic of Congo)

I learned this chant from Silvia Nakkach and Alba Lirio. Brought to Silvia and Alba through Ysaye Barnwell. Quote from Ysaye Barnwell of Sweet Honey in the Rock: “[This chant is] Sung to pull all of the members of the community into the center of the community. It can be sung for hours and, some people say, even days. If that’s what it takes to pull everyone into a like‐mindedness.” I’ve also heard that the chief of the village would know that it was time to resolve a conflict when he could hear a melody being sung over the top with overtones. And I actually hear it one time, with my very first circle of song circle trainees! Amazing!

A real crowd pleaser in my circles, and beautiful way to entrain the group. Can be done more slowly at first.

This song is in the public domain.

Lyrics:

Ama ee boo oh ee ay
Ama ee boo oh ee ay

Mochi Numba from Kenya

An uplifting gathering song from Kenya. I use this one often when opening a circle. “Welcome to my village, you are all a part of my village, we are all one village.” I learned this song from my dear singing sister Debbie Nargi Brown.

Lyrics:

Ay Yai mochi numba
Ay Yai mochi numba
Go berri samba mochi numba
Go berri samba mochi numba
Go berri chickede mochi numba
Go berri checkede mochi numba