Gambian Sounds: SLA Cultural Choir

My Magazine 2022/06
2 min
The SLA Cultural Choir, was founded by Mr Momodou Sabally in 2013 as another activity for the young of the Sabally Leadership Academy, engaging in many activities that bring out the potential in young Gambians, such as inspirational talks, sports and summer camps. And it was during one of those summer camps that they discovered many musical talents in young Gambians, leading to their decision to form a cultural choir targeting Gambian culture and traditions.

The group has 13 members, including pianists, vocalists and percussionists. The team has several challenges. One of them is the inadequate support and resources to sustain the group since full-time performances are not yet something they could go for. People are not ready to pay much for their culture and musicians.

Another is maintaining the group regarding everyone's schedule and other occupations. Generally, the group is quite intact even despite the challenges. Few members travelled or got married and left, but the group's core is still the original one. The SLA cultural choir recorded a full album called 'Gems of Our Heritage'; they have recorded singles, a peace song and recently made a music video about climate change and environmental destruction. And their biggest hit song was 'Maisa', which is a song about orphans and how society needs to show sympathy and empathy for them.

It is pretty hard for a cultural group to survive in an industry dominated by modern music because of social media, TV and globalisation. There is a lot of inflow of contemporary music. Nonetheless, our cultural music is considered modern because it is sung by the younger generation modernising old traditional music and folktales.

The group wants them to be seen on international platforms and festivals worldwide to be The Gambia ambassadors, showcasing our culture and traditions and continue conveying messages worldwide.

And the message they have for the world is that at this point in time, let peace reign because "one country's peace is another country's peace". And any instability happening in any county affects us too in The Gambia. So let love and peace reign.

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