1001 South African Songs You Must Hear Before You Go Deaf

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Archive for the tag “Jenny Delenta”

Sudan – Jenny & Rosanna Delenta

Delenta - Jenny Delenta

Delenta – Jenny Delenta

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

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Wuthering Heights – Not The Midnight Mass

Mass Hysteria - Not The Midnight Mass

Mass Hysteria – Not The Midnight Mass

Generally if you are going to do a cover version of a song, it is advisable not to pick something that is going to be pretty difficult, especially if you want to create a similar sounding vocal. Not The Midnight Mass decided to ignore this advice when they took on Kate Bush’s ‘Wuthering Heights’. But then Jenny Delenta does do an exceptional job of recreating Kate’s unique voice.

Backed by the capable vocal gymnastics of brother and sister, Graham and Christine Weir along with Terence Reis and Bruce Alex on the studio version on the CD ‘Mass Hysteria’ or Alan Glass instead of Bruce Alex if you are lucky enough to have the super-rare cassette of them live, this acapella group took the Bush classic and, while I would be overexaggerating to say they made it theirs, they certainly made it part of their repertoire while Delenta was part of the group. It has all the whoops and swoops of the original as well as the ‘foggy moor’ mystic.

This version would not work half as well if it wasn’t for Delenta’s magical vocals on this. She really steals the show here. The Mass certainly had the talent to continue making good music once Delenta moved on and have continued to have success in a post Delenta world, so they cannot be written off as mere backing vocalists should you only ever hear this track of theirs, but this one certainly belongs to Jenny.

Where to find it:
Mass Hysteria – Not The Midnight Mass (1996), BMG Records, CDBSP(WL)7010

Fall – Jenny Delenta

Fall – Jenny Delenta

Delenta

Delenta

Jenny Delenta rose to fame as part of Not The Midnight Mass. She was the epitome of the old adage – dynamite comes in small packages as, despite her short stature, she could belt out a spine chillingly accurate version of Kate Bush’s ‘Wuthering Heights’. Not a feat many can accomplish.

With the help of Cragie Dodds from Egyptian Nursery (who went on to work with the Sugababes), Delenta changed styles on her eponymous debut. The album is packed with brilliant trippy-pop tunes which garnered some favourable comparisons to Madonna during her ‘Ray Of Light’ period. ‘Fall’ opens the album and sets the tone. Delenta’s sultry vocals cast a magic spell over its chillout beats and electronic beeps. Catchy and danceable, the song was a strong start to a strong album. All the signs were there for more great material from this highly gifted singer, but sadly, this has been her only offering so far. We can live in hope.

Where to find it:
Delenta – Jenny Delenta (2000), BMG, CDRENT(LF)100

 

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