Asking the plants 'are you the one?'

Lydia and Jules at the Art and Soul Cafe Workshop
Lydia and Jules at the Art and Soul Cafe Workshop

Last summer I attended an inspiring musical workshop with my pals Bonnie Taylor and Lydia Ruffin - co-founders of Art and Soul Cafe.  At the workshop I met Jules Gibb from Birmingham England.

Jules teaches thousands of children the joy of singing. Jules discovered that I'm collecting world music which has traditionally been sung on the farm or in the garden and she rewarded me with this lovely Nigerian hymn.  It's an interactive song sung to the plants, asking if they are the right one to be picked.   I'm now teaching it to the children at the MLK school in Marin City.

Jules writes, "

The song is used often in a ritual context where a blend of leaves and plants would be required for healing or ceremony. Like the friar in Romeo and Juliet, the  person mixing the brew would know that plants do not always have a consistent potency- perhaps young leaves or old leaves are different or flowers picked at certain time of day or season vary in their effect. As well as their own experience in these matters, the Babalawo (father of secrets), would also ask the plants themselves which leaf or stem to choose for which particular purpose using this song."

Check out the short video:  O Jelele

"These words are phonetic remember so  if you meet a Yoruba speaker they may help with the spelling. I learned it from a Yoruba singer who wrote it phonetically. O jelele obio jelele o E weya jelele Owemi o Owemi a E weya jelele." Jules Gibb