Sunday, 30 October 2011

Pen Voyage Liner Notes - Track 5

Monday is for MUSIC.. I hope you've been enjoying my Pen Voyage Liner Notes?

Track 5 on the record is the song I wrote and named "Taste of Freedom"

What does it really mean to be free?

I think FREEDOM is an important element when it comes to song writing, performance or any creative endeavor for that matter.

The first few lines of track 5 on the record, Pen Voyage Chapter 1; Singing for Change goes...

"Walking down the road less traveled, asking myself 'why am I here?'
In this place I don't feel entitled, but somehow I love it here.
I don't want to be lost in a crowd, it's a path that is well worn..."

I once heard someone say that the bravest thing anyone can ever do is be bold to live their purpose. It takes courage to go against the grain and follow your heart to live what you believe is your purpose.

I wrote "Taste of Freedom" to express my journey into starting to understand one of the gifts I believe I have been blessed with my VOICE

I remember the first time I went out as a solo artist; my guitar on my back to play at "Spice of Life" a little live music bar in Soho, London. I was honestly taken back by people's response to my performance. I still get those moments where I ask myself, REALLY?

From singing in different choirs over the years, I find that there is an unwritten rule about how singers are meant to sound and for most choirs, unless a singer leads a certain way it really isn't deemed the best. I remember being in a choir and words like "Sing the song the way X sings it" being constantly thrown around.

I find that coming out from a collective or group of singers to going out as a solo artist can be a challenge but finding your voice and staying in your path is the best thing that can ever happen to you as a creative person. Everyone has a story to tell, everyone has a voice and I believe the journey to finding it is a lifetime.

Not only is a Voice "the sound produced by the vocal organs of a vertebrate, especially a human and the ability to produce such sounds." the American Heritage Dictionary also defines VOICE as The right or opportunity to express a choice or opinion

"...we've been placed here for a reason, finding out why, is our live's mission.."
From the song TASTE OF FREEDOM

Pen Voyage Chapter 1; Singing for Change is out on iTunes, Amazon and other digital stores

You can buy the physical CD here

Listen to tracks from the album here
Latest tracks by Lánre

Monday, 24 October 2011

Pen Voyage Liner Notes - Track 4

Good Monday to you and thanks for those who are still reading my blogs week in week out. THANK YOU.

The fourth song on my record Pen Voyage Chapter 1; Singing for Change is "INSPIRATION" this is one of my favourite song to sing and one of the ones I am proud I wrote. I know it's also a favourite for those who hear it.

A few weeks ago I was asked by a few people what the lyrics are so here is the link to it -

I also wrote about the idea behind the song when I first put out the Radio Edit version in July. here is that blog

I looked up the definition of Inspiration in the American Heritage Dictionary of English Language;

- Divine guidance or influence exerted directly on the mind and soul of humankind.
- An agency, such as a person or work of art, that moves the intellect or emotions or prompts action or invention.
- Stimulation of the mind or emotions to a high level of feeling or activity.

I wrote this song about our relationship with that thing called "CREATIVITY" and "INSPIRATION" some times elusive and other times you can't seem to get enough of it. I wonder why that is. I wonder what is responsible for those times when it decides to pay you a visit and why it stays away sometimes. Does it really stay away at those times or is it just hiding from us?

I am not sure I found the answer after writing this song.

Maybe it's one of those things we will never know why.

Jill Dawson in her article in the Guardian "How to write fiction" she urges new writers to dive in as there is never a perfect time to write a novel.

I see myself first as a story teller whether I am trying to write a song or a prose I just want to tell a good and engaging story. I however tend to write only when I am inspired. ie. feel that throb or pull it's the only way I can describe the feeling of being inspired.

In the month of November however I have decided to challenge myself and take part in this year's NaNoWriMo. For those who don't know, November is the National Novel Writing Month.

Thousands of people all around the world will attempt to write a novel of 50,000 words from the 1st of November to the 30th of November. As expected some will be successful and some won't. I plan to succeed

I am so nervous as already dreading what I'll do if the words and ideas aren't forth coming. I am however excited to see what I would have come up with by the end of November (wish me luck)

I think one line from Jill Dawson's article made me decide to challenge myself to write.

Talking about excuses by new writers..

"Not beginning protects you from disappointment; no shame of reading what you have written and finding it rubbish. It also prevents you from an equally disturbing possibility; discovering that you can write.... success and failure can both be avoided."

SO I WILL WRITE.. whether inspiration decides to knock on my front door to pay me a visit or hides in my back garden. hehe

Pen Voyage Chapter 1; Singing for Change is out on iTunes, Amazon and other digital stores

You can buy the physical CD here

Listen to tracks from the album here
Latest tracks by Lánre

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Pen Voyage Liner Notes - Track 3

Isn't it amazing how fast the weekend goes?

As always it's Monday and it's all about music from Pen Voyage Chapter 1; Singing for Change. The third track on this record is Má Gbàgbé. I wrote the song in English and Yoruba; one of the (250) two hundred and fifty languages spoken in Nigeria, West Africa.

This song is what I call the traveler's song. I remember growing up hearing my grandfather always had this saying to everyone that's out going on a journey.

"Alo a da abo a sunwon, ma gbagbe omo eni ti on se o"

Loosely translated, it means "have a safe trip, but don't forget who you are"

Staying connected and true to who you are is huge when it comes to MOST African parents a large part of our upbringing is very community oriented and I still think that it's a great thing to have.

The picture I had in mind as I wrote this song was that of a young person leaving home for the first time. Memories of me leaving home (Nigeria) to return to England (my country of birth) came flooding back. I remember everyone prayed for me and of course my granddad ended his goodbyes with his usual advice "DON'T FORGET WHO YOU ARE"

I have been going out as a Solo artist for almost eighteen months and I think the challenge most people face is the pressure to ALWAYS have your music or art accepted. Sometimes we think we need to change to accommodate everyone else's expectation of us. I think that is the problem I have with music competitions like X Factor etc especially when the judges come back with comments like "You are a good singer BUT you are not what we are looking for in this competition"

That just sounds wrong to me because I think getting artists to meet your pre-conceived idea of what you deem acceptable is dangerous. While some may argue it shows the artists' versatility, I think most know that it's also because artists are marketed to fit a tried and tested formula and mold.... very little to do with creativity.

Staying authentic and true is a sell-able brand in my opinion. It may take longer than most but it endures.

I leave you with the Bridge of the song.
"Ajo ko le dun ko nile ma re le"
No matter how "Sweet" the journey (or the experience of the travel) is. You will one day head back "home" in other words...


Pen Voyage Chapter 1; Singing for Change is out on iTunes, Amazon and other digital stores

You can buy the physical CD here

Listen to tracks from the album here
Latest tracks by Lánre

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Pen Voyage Liner Notes - Track 2

Happy Monday to you, hope you've had a lovely weekend? I have.

This is my second installment of the ten Music Mondays featuring the Pen Voyage Liner Notes. The second track on the record is "BEAUTIFUL"

On the 19th of September I wrote a blog about this song READ HERE

While I was thinking what more could I possibly add to what I had already written, a last minute opportunity came up for me to sing the song at Naturally Fabulous an event held organised by Natural Lounge at the Cape Bar in Central London.

I have to say it's the first time I've been in the same space with a lot of ladies rocking their natural hair. Three hundred gorgeous ladies rocking their God given hair in different styles and lengths it was amazing to see.

While my Song is not just about hair, the first verse touched on it.

"Once upon a time there was a little girl, she always wanted to be like everyone else. She had the brownest eyes hair so soft as wool, no one ever told her she was beautiful...."

I know for a fact that it's the story of a lot of young girls. Someone else's hair looks better and someone else's nose looks better and the list goes on. I wrote this song because that is my story, I have never felt like the most beautiful girl. A few years ago while I was having one of those moments of stressing over how to wear my hair for the new week I thought to myself.

"I don't even know what my natural hair looks like"

For those who are a bit confused as to what 'natural hair' means it simply means hair that has not been chemically altered.
Like many girls growing up in Nigeria, I could not wait to finish secondary school just because my mum insisted that it was only then that she would allow me to have my hair relaxed.

I grew up hearing things like....

"Your hair is too tough to comb through" or
"What will I do with this child's hair?"

One day I had enough and I cut off my hair and decided to stop the relaxer for a while and to learn to take care of my hair and learn to love it.

I am not a Natural hair advocate or spokesperson but I realise that even though some may argue that hair, like our nails and is just dead cells and should be less bothered about it, our relationship with it is a pointer to how we feel about ourselves and self worth.

I remember the first few weeks after I started to grow out my natural hair, a lady said to me.

"I don't think I can wear my hair LIKE THAT... it's bush hair"

My response... "No, it's not bush hair, it's MY hair!"

I have had so many responses about this song "BEAUTIFUL" and I am happy I wrote it. Like I say all the time, when I perform this song, it's a story I will tell my younger self if I could go back in time.

"You're not like every other girl in the videos.... YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL"

Pen Voyage Chapter 1; Singing for Change is out on iTunes, Amazon and other digital stores

You can buy the physical CD here

Listen to tracks from the album here
Latest tracks by Lánre

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Pen Voyage Liner Notes - Track 1

It's been a couple of days since the official release of my latest solo record, Pen Voyage Chapter 1; Singing for Change. On the night of the album release, I performed for the very first time with a live band and I have to say I won't be forgetting the experience for a while.

Yesterday I spoke to a lovely lady who came to the show and also bought my CD, It was interesting to hear how the songs and stories have touched her. What stood out for me from all that she said though was the fact that listening to the CD brought back memories of the back stories I shared at the show.

I see myself as a storyteller and music has become one of the mediums of storytelling for me. With that in mind, I try to tell a back story before I start to perform any song. Everyone has a story to tell.

I heard a musician explain the roles of artists this way....

If you imagine that we are all members of the same village and in that village there are healers, entertainers, teachers, storytellers.... everyone contributing his or her part to help build and develop that village.

I think I see my place in the "village" as a storyteller and I seek to inspire.

So for the next ten Mondays, I will be writing what I call Pen Voyage Liner Notes explaining the reason behind all the ten songs on the album - Pen Voyage Chapter 1; Singing for Change.

I hope these stories connect with people and that the songs come alive for that reason.

The first song on the record is Prayer (Oun gbogbo)

Prayer is huge part of my life and upbringing. I know there are different types and ways to pray. I however see prayer as an intimate conversation between me and God. I absolutely believe that praying requires us to be sincere and vulnerable and what I did was take a very popular song I heard my grandfather sing several times and make it mine

"Oun Gbogbo ti mo ni
Tire ni n se baba..."

"All i have (I am) is yours father"

I think it's a song that explains where my heart is. I wake up thinking how blessed I am to be able to do what I love. I decided to sing it in Yoruba (one of the 250 languages spoken in Nigeria, West Africa) in recognition of my grandfathers and my father. Three very strong men that I've been blessed to meet and proud to be a part of. I also think singing it in Yoruba helped to re-iterate the intimacy I think is a huge part of prayer.....

I imagine it's just myself and God at that moment in time and I have his audience and He has mine.... I think that's special!

Pen Voyage Chapter 1; Singing for Change is out on iTunes, Amazon and other digital stores

You can buy the physical CD here

Listen to tracks from the album here
Latest tracks by Lánre