Last sneek peek of the month, booooo. Have no fear next month, new show! Last chance to see our dreams and nightmares show. Meanwhile to peek your interest, have a listen and read some facts on this fun tune!
The Lion Sleeps Tonight by The Tokens
Here are some song facts for you to enjoy...
"The Lion Sleeps Tonight", also known as "Wimoweh", "Wimba Way" or "Awimbawe", is a song written and recorded originally by Solomon Linda with the Evening Birds for the South African Gallo Record Company in 1939, under the title "Mbube". Composed in Zulu, it was adapted and covered internationally by many 1950s pop and folk revival artists, including the Weavers, Jimmy Dorsey, Yma Sumac, Miriam Makeba and the Kingston Trio. In 1961, it became a number one hit in the United States as adapted in English with the best-known version by the doo-wop group the Tokens. It went on to earn at least US$15 million in royalties from cover versions and film licensing.
"Mbube" (Zulu: lion) was written in the 1920s, by Solomon Linda, a South African singer of Zulu origin, who later worked for the Gallo Record Company in Johannesburg as a cleaner and record packer. He spent his weekends performing with the Evening Birds, a musical ensemble, and it was at Gallo Records, under the direction of black producer Griffiths Motsieloa, that Linda and his fellow musicians recorded several songs including "Mbube," which incorporated a call-response pattern common among many Sub-Saharan African ethnic groups, including the Zulu.
The original title was "Mbube," which means "lion." It was a hunting song originally sung in Zulu in what is now Swaziland.
This was popularized in the 1930s by South African singer Solomon Linda, who recorded it in 1939 with his group, The Evening Birds. Apparently they were a bold bunch, and got the idea for this from when they used to chase lions who were going after the cattle owned by their families.
This was recorded in South Africa, where it was a big hit. Around 1948, the South African record company sent a copy to Decca Records in the US, hoping to get it distributed there. Folk singer Pete Seeger got a hold of it and started working on an English version.
In the 1950s, Miriam Makeba recorded this with the Zulu lyrics, and Pete Seeger recorded it with his band, The Weavers (who dominated the charts with "Goodnight Irene"). The Weavers recorded the refrain of the song (no verses) and called it "Wimoweh." Their version hit #15 on the US Best Sellers charts in 1952. In 1957, it was included on, The Weavers At Carnegie Hall, a very popular album in the world of folk music.
Seeger thought they were saying "Wimoweh" on the original, and that's what he wrote down and how it was recorded in English. They were actually saying "Uyimbube," which means "You're a Lion." It was misheard for "Wimeoweh" because when pronounced, Uyimbube sounds like: oo-yim-bweh-beh. (thanks to Stephanie Carruth, who performs this song and has studied the Zulu language)
The Kingston Trio recorded this in 1959 on their Live From The Hungry i LP. When introducing the song, singer Dave Guard stated that "Mbube" was a song about a sleeping lion (he doesn't refer to the song by name: he gives the background of the song before the Trio sings it). Part of the translated lyrics, as given by Guard: "Hush! Hush! If we all be quiet, there will be lion meat for dinner."
Opera singer Anita Darien was brought in for the soprano during and after the sax solo. Her voice almost sounds like an instrument on the record.
The Tokens sang backup on another version of the song made popular by Robert John 10 years later.
The original version by Solomon Linda and the Evening Birds can be found on the album Crocodiles, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Solomon Linda and The Evening Birds and Others: Mbube Roots--Zulu Choral Music from South Africa, 1930s-1960s.
The 3 surviving daughters of Solomon Linda sued for royalty rights to this song in 1999 and won a settlement in the case 6 years later. Solomon Linda died in poverty from kidney disease in 1962 at age 53. As part of the settlement with Abilene Music, who own the publishing rights, Linda's heirs receive 25% of past and future royalties from the song, which are considerable since it is used in so many movies and still receives airplay. In the 1950s Linda sold the rights to this song to Gallo Records of South Africa for 10 shillings (about $1.70), at a time when apartheid laws robbed blacks of negotiating rights. In the 1970s, Linda's widow signed over the rights to Abilene.
This song was also used in Disney's 1994 hit movie The Lion King. It was sung by Timon the meerkat (Nathan Lane) and Pumba the warthog (Ernie Sabella). (thanks, Caitlin - Upper Township, NJ)
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