Songs across Walls of Separation (Kirkelig Kulturverksted, 2008)
Norwegian record producer and founder of the label, Kirkelig Kulturverksted, Erik Hillestad and I had previous conversations about a project involving nations with walls that keep loved ones apart. Similar to an earlier peace project, the album, Lullabies from the Axis of Evil, Hillestad set out to make a political statement via music.
He found vocalists from both sides of several national walls, from countries as far-reaching as Morocco and Cyprus to Kashmir, Palestine and Mexico. While some people thought that the crumbling of the Berlin Wall was the end to this type of divide and conquer practice, need to reassess the type of world where we choose to reside. Once Hillestad found these vocalists, he asked them to sing the same songs then later he would meld those vocal tracks together, thus bringing loved ones torn by politics-as-usual and social conditions, together again. In the case of Palestinians Rim Banna and Jamil El Sayeh connected over the Internet.
So Hillestad found musicians from the countries divided by walls and he also enlisted some of the same musicians that appeared on Lullabies from the Axis of Evil along with such luminaries as Belgian-born Natacha Atlas, who has spent many years in Egypt.
This recording includes some beautiful and soothing songs, such as Same Song featuring Ulviyeh Arsehit, Mikhalis Tterlikkas from Cyprus and Katia Cardenal (Nicaragua), I Go to the Top of the Hill/A’lyadi featuring Natacha Atlas, Eiad Mdah and Esmaeel Mdah (Syria), the folk tune, Lonely Traveler.La Enorme distancia with Amalio Martinez, Leonor Almanza of Mexico and Mimi Goese (US). The Bi-Communal Choir and Peace Choir of Cyprus also bring us a gem, I Love My Country. I prefer these songs to the more pop, rock and electronica songs that appear on the compilation.
Overall, I find Hillestad’s humanitarian effort noble and worthwhile. He spent a great deal of time with his research, locating musicians, traveling, recording and then producing this huge undertaking. While it’s true that walls divide people, those same walls brought together a diverse group of musicians to work on a project of the heart. Without those grains of sand in the oyster, we may never experience the pearls. And not to get too philosophical, when obstacles are put in our paths to overcome, we grow and transform from the experience. Our lives become more fulfilling in the end because an obstacle provided us with a purpose.
Patricia Herlevi hosts the healing music blog, The Whole Music Experience. She has also contributed articles and reviews to this site since 2003. She is a proponent for acoustic music sans programmed drums, and other electronics. She promotes the healing power of music through her blog and workshops she teaches in Washington State.
Buy the MP3 downloads: I Love My Country ~ Bi-Communal Choir For Peace In Cyprus, Songs Across Walls Of Separation ~ Various Artists, The Only Passport You Have / Shalaban ~ Mustafra Bahia & Mahmoud Gania & Tom Russel, There Is No Future Here / Mulana ~ Mustafa Bahia & Mahmoud Gania & Eva Dahlgren, Same Song / Kadifes ~ Ulviyeh Arsehit & Mikhalis Tterlikkas & Katia Cardenal, Lonely Traveler / La Enorme Distancia ~ Amalio Martinez & Leonor Almanza & Mimi Goese, A Place For You / Karyo ~ Abdul Rashid Farash & Rukhsana Murtaza & Correo Aereo, Wind From Distant Places / Halalalalayah ~ Jamil El Sayeh & Rim Banna & Sarah Jane Morris, Memory Lost / Gypsy Horse ~ Rim Banna & Jamil El Sayeh & Sheila Kay Adams, Sorrow Of My Eyes / Amor Eterno ~ Daniel Bujord Delgado & Nidia Edith Lorea & East Hill Singers
Patricia Herlevi is a former music journalist turned music researcher. She is especially interested in raising music consciousness. She is looking for an agent and publisher for her book Whole Music (Soul Food for the Mind Body Spirit). She founded and hosts the blog
The Whole Music Experience and has contributed to World Music Central since 2003.