From the recording Down To The River
Featuring The Highlites Choir and The Peace Oratorio orchestra
"Down To The River" for the full choir and band originates from the ZONGO AMBASSADORS repertoire based on John Meldrum's experience in High Life and traditional music from Ghana. On their only album "Ayijah" (Melmuse 1998) the Zongo Ambassadors use the deep Talking Drums from the Tamalé region in northern Ghana near the border of Burkina Faso to create a very earthy rhythmic underpinning to pose their voices upon. The transformation of that sound to the orchestration that one hears on this recording from the Peace Oratorio at the Alhambra in 2012 has taken many years.
Although the song's structure is exactly the same from one performance to the next, the Talking Drums will vary in intensity and language the way a skilled Jazz drummer varies his textures from night to night. Ideally, the Talking Drum section on "Down To The River" would be 5 differently tuned Talking Drums along with the Congas and a deep bass drum. The main HighLife beat of this song is later used on the songs "Happy Feet" and "Brother, Brother" in the Peace Oratorio. The two hand claps occur first on the downbeat and then just before the second beat, followed by the high bell sound on the offbeats of beats 2, 3 and 4. This rhythm is typical in Ghana, but is not often heard in the West. I find it ideal for opening up young people to a new way of swinging and then singing as their feet move from right to left.
Peace Oratorio NARRATION : "On April 17th, 1944 when he was 14 years old, Martin travelled from Atlanta to Dublin, Georgia to give the winning speech in an oratory contest. Entitled “The Negro and the Constitution”, it states that for a healthy democracy to exist, all citizens must be equal in reality, not just on a piece of paper. "
Down To The River Down To The River, Down! Down like a pouring rain, Down! Down To The River, Down! Down like a pouring rain, Down! Show me the water of life Flow in the river of peace Show me the water of life Flow in the river of peace Show me the water of life Flow in the river of, In the river of, In the river of In the river of peace Down To The River, Down! Down like a pouring rain, Down! Down To The River, Down! Down like a pouring rain, Down! Yes, your peace would have been like the river Your righteousness like the sea Yes, your peace would have been like the river Your righteousness like the sea Whoa, Oh.... Down! Down, Down, Down, Down. Show me the water of life Flow in the river of peace (4x) Yeah, Oh, Ah... (4x) Down, Down, Down, Down (3)