Just in case you didn’t know, Sudan is a large country in north east Africa, bordering Egypt and Libya (to name just 2 of the countries it borders with) and therefore has Arabic influences. The pictures one sees of the country on the internet (the ones not of crowded cities and people), show a hot and dusty land that has its own special kind of beauty. And it is a vast country (the 3rd biggest in Africa – it used to be the biggest until South Sudan split off).
The Arabic influence and the vastness of the country comes through in the Delenta sisters’ song ‘Sudan’, but it is the gentle side of things that come across in the song, not the harshness of a desert, but the beauty of it. The song has a simple drum beat, a haunting cello (played by Kendall Reid) and the beautiful voices of Jenny and Rosanna Delenta which weave a magic spell on the track with Jenny’s pure silk voice singing the English lyrics while Rosanna brings a Mediterranean Arabic feel to the Greek lyrics starting in a similar smooth tone as Jenny but then soaring with a slightly harder edged sound.
But why would a couple of South African women be singing about a seemingly unrelated country? Well the clue lies in their heritage. Jenny and Rosanna were born in Sudan to a Greek father and Greek Cypriot mother. They were very young when their father died and at that point they moved to South Africa to be with their mother’s family, but Sudan and the memory of their father travelled with them in their hearts.
You can feel the ache in the opening line ‘Mother talks so sweetly/to shake the ties that keep me’ and that is followed soon after by ‘In her heart she’s in Sudan’. It is clear from the track that their mother loved their father deeply and passed that love onto her daughters like a precious family heirloom. The Greek lyrics, written by Rosanna while getting ready to go to the studio, tell of her loss, both of her father and of the country of her birth, but also how she retains memories of all that was good deep within her heart.
It is a reverential song sung with great love and respect. It is hard not to be moved by it. Generally, the news that comes from Sudan is of political turmoil and war, but the Delenta sisters open one’s eyes to another side of the country, one of great beauty and gentleness, filled with otherworldly wonder and mystique. Give the track a spin and lose yourself for a few minutes in the magical image that the Delentas weave around a place called Sudan and perhaps spend a moment recalling a loved one with as much love, aching and comfort as the song brings.
Where to find it:
Delenta – Jenny Delenta (2000), BMG, CDRENT(LF)100