Immediate download of 6-track album in the high-quality format of your choice (MP3, FLAC, and more), plus unlimited mobile access using the free Bandcamp listening app.
Six Panel Digipak
Includes immediate download of 6-track album in the high-quality format of your choice (MP3, FLAC, and more), plus unlimited mobile access using the free Bandcamp listening app.
Bukuru Celestin is a Music Lab student who graduated from Patrick Henry High School and now attends Virginia Western Community College.
Bukuru is originally from Burundi Africa and moved to the United States in 2008. Bukuru writes, records and performs gospel music in the Afrobeat style. He is often joined by his sisters, Furaha, Elvanie, and Ephrasie who sing background vocals on many of Bukuru’s recordings and live performances.
Through Jefferson Center’s Music Lab and a number of generous grantors, Bukuru has just completed recording a full length album with the jazz/funk group Snarky Puppy.
Throughout the process Bukuru and Snarky Puppy presented a series of lecture and demonstrations throughout the community that highlight the creative process of this amazing collaboration. Bukuru presented for students at local schools, the Music Lab at Jefferson Center and in public settings such as the Roanoke City Main Library.
To read more about this project click here!
released 30 July 2013
I first met Bukuru in 2009 through the Music Lab at Jefferson Center and its czar, the one and only Dylan Locke. Snarky Puppy has been visiting the lab in Roanoke on a regular basis for years, working with young musicians there and helping to foster their growth. On this particular visit, Dylan told me that there was a kid from Burundi with over 40 songs fully composed, recorded, and produced on one of the lab's computers - with that kid playing all of the instruments. I snuck into the control room that night and listened to about 15 of them, which totally floored me. I met Bukuru the next day, and we immediately started plotting a collaboration.
It was probably one of the more interesting collaborations I've ever been a part of, involving Snarky Puppy, Bukuru, and the great jazz drummer Ari Hoenig (who has also spent his share of time in Africa learning folkloric musics). Together, we recorded a song of B's ("Yesu") and a song of Ari's ("The Painter"), on which Bukuru and his three younger sisters added vocals. [If you're interested in these, by the way, you can find them as free downloads on the album page at ground up.ropeadope.com.] It was such a blast that Dylan and I started to plot an entire album, which you're holding in your hand, thanks to a grant from Chamber Music America and a lot of time and effort from the staff at Jefferson Center.
The process was a very interesting one. As I said, Bukuru had already demoed everything on Garage Band, so my role was basically to take the music out of a 100% authentic Tanzanian/Burundian context and meld it with Snarky Puppy's sound and strengths. The whole point of making this record was to see what happens when two completely different musical cultures fuse, so there was a delicate balance to be kept between getting creative as an arranger/producer and not totally corrupting the rich musical tradition of Bukuru's culture. The rule I came up with was "the vocals must not have to change." Everything that I did to these songs, I did 100% around the vocals. In B's music, every song uses 1, 4, and 5 chords. There are no songs in minor keys. There aren't even minor CHORDS. It blew my mind! This kid was able to write 40+ songs, all with beautifully different melodies and hooks, on top of the SAME THREE MAJOR CHORDS. So we sat down together and I started putting different textures, feels, tempos, chords, and grooves underneath his music. The only exception was the song "Shima," which I actually wrote and Bukuru set lyrics and a melody to.
After re-demoing each song with my (very drastic, in most cases) changes in July 2012, I went back to New York and gave the material to the pups. We reconvened in February 2013, and tracked the entire album in just one week ("JT" laid down all of his drum tracks in one day). It was an absolute pleasure recording Bukuru, his three younger sisters, and the choir from his church in Roanoke. I had to stop several times during the recording to appreciate exactly what was happening- the musical and cultural exchange that went on between the band and Bukuru's family is something that I'll remember forever. And although this is technically a gospel record and that B's purpose is very specific in his songwriting, I hope the power of the music transcends our own faiths, creeds, and cultures, so that each of us may connect with whatever it is that makes us feel small, and feel joy.
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