I Have My Liberty: Gospel Sounds From Accra, Ghana
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Various Artists
I Have My Liberty: Gospel Sounds From Accra, Ghana
Dust to Digital Records (www.dust-digital.com)

Missionaries attempting to convert newly enslaved West Africans to their new masters' religion in the colonial period were often told by slavers, "Jesus never crossed the Atlas Mountains." The cynical idea that people of the region are not suited for anything considered as gentle and civilized as Christianity remains an undercurrent idea throughout the western world. Even today, self-proclaimed Christian clergy and congregations in Ghana frequently appear in headlines for mixing their faith with pagan beliefs and for various frauds and crimes, as if any denomination anywhere has ever been proof against the usual predilections of our species.

I Have My Liberty is a release so unashamedly passionate as to prove itself at first listen to be 100% pure church music, though perhaps not straight out of the hymnals closest to the hands of readers of this review. It is shared praise, prayer and faith, and not altogether unfamiliar to non-West African ears. One hears missing link melodies connecting, for example, chants from the original, Old World Ashanti towns and "Goodnight, Irene." Some of the recordings, too, interestingly seem to go back toward African forms from traditional Protestant hymns like "Go Tell It On the Mountain." Browsing CD bins, one might briefly contemplate this release and go on to another, presuming that an anthology of recordings from Christian congregations in Accra such as I Have My Liberty would lack variety, but such is not the case at all. From prayers to a cappella choirs, from drum backing to more complex instrumentation, this collection offers great variety. - Arthur Shuey

The CD is available direct from the label

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