Last week the students in my Writing Close to the Earth online class read George Orwell's classic essay, "Politics and the English Language." In it ... Read More
I love the Rabbit Room, and today I’m so excited to celebrate the release of Sing the Bible with Slugs & Bugs with all of you. Early next year we’ll release Sing the Bible on iTunes and everywhere else, but for now, it’s available exclusively at the Rabbit Room.
Featuring the African Children’s Choir, Sally Lloyd-Jones, Buddy Green, Ron Block, Stuart Duncan, Andrew Peterson, Dracula, Frankenstein, The Wolfman, some bees, and every member of my immediate family (along with some of their friends), Sing the Bible with Slugs & Bugs is a collection of Scripture verses put to music and melody. There are two “books of the Bible” songs and sixteen word-for-word Scripture songs from a few different translations. I tried to find the Most Singable Version of each song, so if you want to be corny like me, you could say they’re all from the MSV.
Like most musicians I know, I’ve long admired the way Paul Simon blended African music and American folk/pop on Graceland (1986). And over the last ten years, trips to Kenya, Ethiopia, and Uganda have continued my education in African rhythm and melody. Additionally, after eighteen years of musical life in Nashville, I’ve become a huge bluegrass fan, often searching for some way to allow a banjo or mandolin to help with whatever I’m doing. So making Sing the Bible gave me a chance to blend African music with Nashville bluegrass. That unique combination served as the musical foundation for the album.
A 2012 trip to Uganda played a pivotal role. A Slugs & Bugs concert in Kampala was delayed by rain, and while the audience and I waited for the other schools to arrive, a classroom of schoolchildren rose and quietly made way to the front of the assembly hall. Then they began to sing.
They sang a welcome song in classic call-and-response style, with a song leader that could not have been more than 12 years old. It was beautiful. They sang a song about Uganda and another song about Jesus. When they were through, they went and sat down, but amazingly, another classroom of kids—from another school—stood and walked to the front and began to sing! I was mesmerized by the music these kids were making. And right then I prayed I would get to bring some of that home to Nashville.
Less than a year later, the African Children’s Choir rolled into Tennessee on their well-travelled African Children’s Choir bus. Their voices vitalize the album’s African melodies and rhythms. On the Nashville side of things, Ron Block’s banjo plays a huge role in the sonic landscape, as does Sierra Hull’s mandolin. The great Stuart Duncan and his violin are featured prominently on The Lord’s Prayer, which doesn’t seem quite as African until you consider the vocalist—my son Benjamin. We adopted Ben from Ethiopia when he was two years old. Even my friend and scripture reader (and New York Times best-selling author) Sally Lloyd-Jones helps keep up the theme. It was so thoughtful of her to be born in Uganda. That’s just like her, really. Always thinking of others.
The album is now available in the Rabbit Room store and I hope you and your family enjoy listening to it as much as I enjoyed making it. In the next few weeks, I’ll follow up this post with Part Two to focus on the actual Scriptures chosen for the final song list.
“Trust in the Lord”
from Proverbs 3:5-6