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Sankofa Songs: A Legacy of Roots and Rhythm

Wednesday, May 8, 2019   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Rosalind V. Rini Larson

The Helen Creighton Folklore Society is pleased to announce the publication of its newest album Sankofa Songs: A Legacy of Roots and Rhythm.

Copies of the CD are available for sale through the Helen Creighton Folklore Society,, or in digital format at

Sankofa: a West African word from the Akan people meaning “to go back and get what was taken.” The term made its way to North America, and scholars coin its meaning as “remembering our past, to protect our future legacy!”

Helen Creighton, Canada’s “First Lady of Folklore,” first recorded African Nova Scotian traditional music in 1943 when she visited the home of William Riley in Cherry Brook. Mr. Riley was the portal to Dr. Creighton’s introduction to this rich heritage—a heritage she had not explored and one in which she had little experience. That same year she recorded John Tynes at her home in Dartmouth. 

Hers was a journey of discovery and learning about diversity. In 1944, she collected songs and singing games from the young singers at The Nova Scotia Home for Coloured Children. Her search for traditional music in the Black community also took her to Inglewood, near Bridgetown where she met and collected from Charles Owens (who was 101 years old when he was recorded) and his family of singers.

In 1967, she arranged for funding to hire Marvin Burke to visit contemporary singers and record their songs. As part of the Creighton Collection, Marvin was able to record such iconic members of the Black community as Delmore “Buddy” Daye, Murray Langford, The New Road Settlement Community Club Singers and, most poignant of all, the famous West singers, featuring Mrs. Lena West and members of the Seaview African United Baptist Church at the final Easter Sunrise Service in Africville—six months before the church was shamefully razed that same year.

The Helen Creighton Folklore Society is honored to be able to bring these original recordings to the forefront in a CD and enclosed booklet. Produced by folklorist Clary Croft and assisted by Dr. Henry Bishop, this living archive is a valuable legacy to all Nova Scotians.

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