A cappella Joni Mitchell cover.
Watch the rest of this spellbinding Earphoria session here.
Willy is my child; he is my father
I would be his lady all my life
He says he’d love to live with me
But for an ancient injury
That has not healed
He said I feel once again
Like I gave my heart too soon
He stood looking through the lace
At the face on the conquered moon
And counting all the cars up the hill
And the stars on my window sill
There are still more reasons why I love him
Willy is my joy; he is my sorrow
Now he wants to run away and hide
He says our love cannot be real
He cannot hear the chapel’s pealing silver bells
But you know it’s hard to tell
When you’re in the spell if it’s wrong or if it’s real
But you’re bound to lose
If you let the blues get you scared to feel
And I feel like I’m just being born
Like a shiny light breaking in a storm
There are so many reasons why I love him
Live non-verbal improvisation performed in absolute darkness, interacting with a cellphone recording from the day before, at The Window, an evening of experimental music, performance and visual art at the Theatre Arts Admin Collective, Observatory, Cape Town, 29 January 2017.
“It’s not easy to improvise… It’s the most difficult thing to do. Even when one improvises in front of a camera or microphone, one ventriloquizes or leaves another to speak in one’s place the schemas and languages that are already there. There are already a great number of prescriptions that are prescribed in our memory and in our culture. All the names are already pre-programmed. It’s already the names that inhibit our ability to ever really improvise. One can’t say what ever one wants, one is obliged more or less to reproduce the stereotypical discourse. And so I believe in improvisation and I fight for improvisation. But always with the belief that it’s impossible. And there where there is improvisation I am not able to see myself. I am blind to myself. And it’s what I will see, no, I won’t see it. It’s for others to see. The one who is improvised here… no, I won’t ever see him.”
— Jacques Derrida, unpublished interview, 1982, reproduced in David Toop’s Into the Maelstrom: Music, Improvisation and the Dream of Freedom: Before 1970, Bloomsbury, 2016, pg 21.
Born in 1902 in Payneville, Alabama, just outside of Livingston in Sumter County, Vera Hall grew up to establish one of the most stunning bodies of American folk music on record.
Hall married Nash Riddle, a coal miner, in 1917 and gave birth to their daughter, Minnie Ada. Riddle was killed in 1920. Though Hall sang her entire life, learning spirituals such as I Got the Home in the Rock and When Im Standing Wondering, Lord, Show Me the Way from her mother, Agnes, and her father, Efron Zully Hall, it was not until the late 1930s that Halls singing gained national exposure.
John Avery Lomax, ethnomusicologist, met Hall in the 1930s and recorded her for the Library of Congress. Lomax wrote that she had the loveliest voice [he] had ever recorded. The British Broadcasting System played Halls recording of Another Man Done Gone in 1943 as a sampling of American folk music. The Library of Congress played the song the same year in commemoration of the 75th Anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation. In 1945, Hall recorded with Byron Arnold. In 1984, the recordings were released as a Collection of Folksongs entitled Cornbread Crumbled in Gravy.
In 1948, with the help of Alan Lomax, Hall traveled to New York and performed on May 15 at the American Music Festival at Columbia University. During the course of this trip, Lomax interviewed Hall on several occasions. In 1959, these interviews would be transformed into Rainbow Sign, a thinly- guised biography of Hall. In this book, Lomax stated, her singing is like a deep-voiced shepherds flute, mellow and pure in tone, yet always with hints of the lips and the pleasure-loving flesh… The sound comes from deep within her when she sings, from a source of gold and light, otherwise hidden, and falls directly upon your ear like sunlight. It is a liquid, full contralto, rich in low overtones; but it can leap directly into falsetto and play there as effortlessly as a bird in the wind.
Today, her work still garners attention. In 1999, techno-artist, Moby (Richard Melville Hall), included her voice and song Troubled So Hard in his multi-platinum album Play, thus introducing Halls voice to a whole new generation of listeners. Prized by scholars and folksong enthusiasts, Halls recordings include examples of early blues and folk songs that are found nowhere else. Her masterful renditions of traditional songs and stories are a defining part of Southern Black culture and the Black Belt region.