here is an extremely rare record that was found on my last African trip;  ‘African Lament’, with a battered cover alas, but what a find! One of the true rarities of wordless Exotica by a moody  lady who’s  up there with Yma Sumac and Leda Annest a.o.

Although ‘Palm Wine Party’ seems to be the best known title, the album holds several great jazz tunes that are far more superior; ‘Rites of Passage’ for instance.

All songs on African Lament (Epic LN 24011 Mono) were composed by Sascha Burland and Pat Williams. Released in 1961 by EPIC Records, US.

Miriam Burton’s vocal performance is outstanding, set in a seductive soundscape of traditional African percussive instruments, flutes, tipples, marimba… a fascinating hybrid sound that expresses the curious co-existence of the old and the new in Africa. And to capture the vibrant spirit, the pain of the African caught in turmoil, Miriam Burton’s soaring wordless vocal obligatos complete the picture.

It is an album of musical expressions of a continent in dramatic transition. Burland writes that he and Williams have made no attempt at ethnic authenticity, but have simply tried to set down musical pictures which relate to certain African facts and folklore.

Titles are

Rites Of Passage pts 1-3


Kalahari Bushmen

Congo Lament

Yoruba Lady


Palm Wine Party

A word about Miriam Burton. With a background ranging from jazz singing to serious Carnegie Hall concerts, Miss Burton has been  touring with the Katherine Dunham Dance Company throughout Europe, making triumphant Broadway appearances in ‘Porgy and Bess’ and ‘House of Flowers’ and performing in several television specials with Harry Belafonte.

see rare pics of Miriam Burton in a collage of ‘Palm Wine Party’

One thought on “African Lament -Miriam Burton, Rites of Passages 1961

  1. As a person with a background in journalism, I find your blog right up my street, “African Lament -Miriam Burton, Rites of Passages Soul Safari” I will keep checking for interesting additions to your blog,
    Thank you 🙂

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