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Kwanzaa Music: Sounds of the Season

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Like most holidays, Kwanzaa incorporates music as an essential element of its celebration. There are some songs written specifically for the holiday that help to teach its principals, but any traditional African music has a role in the holiday. Even more modern music has its place in the holiday festivities. Here are some ideas of what kind of music you might hear during Kwanzaa.

Traditional Kwanzaa Songs

Since Kwanzaa is a relatively new holiday, songs pertaining directly to it are still few in number, though more are sure to crop up as time passes. Most of the songs available teach lessons about Kwanzaa. Here are a few listening selections:
  • "Umoja (The First Night of Kwanzaa)" - Jacquie Godden
  • "Kuchichagulia (The Second Night of Kwanzaa)" - Jacquie Godden
  • "Ujima (The Third Night of Kwanzaa)" - Jacquie Godden
  • "Ujamaa (The Fourth Night of Kwanzaa)" - Jacquie Godden
  • "Nia (The Fifth Night of Kwanzaa)" - Jacquie Godden
  • "Kuumba (The Sixth Night of Kwanzaa) - Jacquie Godden
  • "Imani (The Seventh Night of Kwanzaa) - Jacquie Godden
  • "Seven Days of Kwanzaa" - Jacquie Godden
  • "Celebrating Kwanzaa" - Marla Lewis
  • "Kwanzaa" - The Learning Station
  • "Kwanzaa is Here" - Greta Pedersen
Other Music Options

Photo by ralev_com, sxc.hu
The purpose of Kwanzaa is to celebrate African American heritage and community, so you can't go wrong listening to traditional African music during your Kwanzaa celebration. You could listen to music from a specific region of Africa. There's a great amount of variety in music from different regions. For example, North African music ranges from ancient Egyptian music to the songs of desert nomads like the Berbers.

Any music that involves traditional African instruments is another great option. Some of those instruments include:
  • Drums such tama talking drums, the bougarabou, and the djembe
  • Shakers such as the kosika and the rainstick
  • String Instruments like the kora, bolon, and ngoni

Did You Know?

The banjo was designed by enslaved Africans in the United States, who based it on a traditional African instrument called the kimbundu.

There really are countless options available when it comes to music to listen to during Kwanzaa, from ancient African music to modern jazz. The most important thing is that the music you choose is representative of African American heritage, culture, and community.

Patrick Hanan  Posted by Patrick Hanan on December 16, 2009

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