Saturday, June 15, 2024

Album Review: Kereke Mmarona, Hymns of the Roman Catholic Church

Kereke Mmarona loosely translates from Setwana as ‘Mother Church’ and is a project that explores music distinctive to particular churches. If you have not ‘visited’ other Christian denominational churches, the Methodist Church is known for their bass heavy choral arrangement and Bible thumbing percussion. The Zion Christian Church singers are most successful in popular gospel for soaring solo singing. The Seventh Day Adventist choirs are known for their intricate harmony. They are perfect examples of distinctive sound of local churches.

Orometswe Maotonyane produced his first volume of Kereke Mmarona, which has the Roman Catholic Church hymns on focal point. ‘Khiro’ standards including Ave Maria, are sung by a choir comprising of Annah Maotonyane, Keneilwe Bolebano, Olefile Lesole, Patrick Moikabi, Duduetsang Ratlholwa and Gaolatlhe Mosomane. Khiro is Setswana adaptation of the word choir used in Catholic churches.

The singing sounds organically khiro ya Roma, Maotonyane does not attempt to embellish the sound. Kereke Mmarona’s charm is perhaps its use of simple musical instrumentation, provided by guitarists Raymond Kasawaya and Peter Bollen and keyboardist Moeti Motsumi.

Re a Leboga, Ka Difela tse di Monate and a few songs use the call response singing style ingrained in African music. Kabelo Yaka is the first track on the CD and has possibly the best four part vocal arrangement of all the songs.

Catholic church-goers would probably appreciate this album most, but it will also strike a chord with those who have ‘visited’ the church.


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