Saturday, February 28, 2015

Melodies Pure & True

It was about two months ago, a few weeks before our son would be born, when my wife and I were driving in the car with our daughter who was 19 months old at the time. During that short ride she did something that caused us to be both amazed and overjoyed, and ever since then this miraculous moment has now become an everyday occurrence (almost an “all-day” occurrence). Though it all started on that day when we first witnessed a simple miracle of word, sound, and power.

It starts and ends with music. Music is a big part of our lives and so we find occasion to play it almost anywhere and anytime, especially on our car rides. On that particular day we were playing an album that I had frequently put on while putting my daughter to bed. As we were listening, we suddenly heard another texture to the music, something like another voice adding to the mix. My wife and I looked back, and to our great surprise, saw our daughter singing and harmonizing with this one beautiful melody. Mind you, this was no simple nursery rhyme either. It was a rich piece of music with many elements, layers, and vocal harmonies. Yet, here was our daughter singing the words with perfect annunciation, perfect tone and in perfect time! She had been using a variety of words and speaking her own brand of melodic gibberish for some time, but this was very different… she was actually singing!

What made this moment even more special was the fact that this was such a wonderful tune to hear our daughter sing. It was a song about love. Love for a child, love of family, love for the Most High God, and one filled with gratitude.  While we listened, a verse came forth from her lips in perfect clarity. “Oh how I love you, oh yes I love you! My precious baby, you mean so much to me!” She sang loudly with a smile of satisfaction. Then as the album continued, other songs and phrases emerged like, “I love you baby, so overwhelmed by your beauty… It’s an honor to feed to you, a privilege to take care of you, a joy to hold you, and a blessing to have you… Each and every day, I do find time to pray, thanking God the Father for you my precious daughter!...

The songs came from an album sung by Marge Blackman along with her family members and friends. She comes from a family of musicians from Trinidad & Tobago who sing in a style called Jamoo, or JAH Music. If you’ve never heard of it before then it is because it belongs to a unique niche in world music and I am fortunate enough to have a little collection of these hard-to-find albums.  Jamoo could be described as a rootsy blend of calypso, soca, reggae and Caribbean folk with spiritual and uplifting messages. We used to play this album frequently even before our daughter was born. In fact, it is actually titled “Songs for the Womb and Beyond” and I owned it long before I was a married man, or had even thought of becoming a Dad, just because I loved the music and the style. 

Playing the album on that day opened up a musical floodgate. Songs spill from our daughter’s mouth almost as quickly as she hears them with her ears. It is simply amazing to learn how intently she’s been listening to the music and what she is picking up from it. She is grasping language so quickly and putting words together with ideas and abstract thoughts. Although she doesn't know exactly what a song may be saying, she hangs on important words and their associations, repeating phrases and feeling the general vibes of the whole tune, dancing and soaking it all in. Witnessing this has proven two things to me. First, that one cannot underestimate the abilities and the awareness of a young child, and second, one cannot underestimate the power that music has on people, even very young people. It makes me wonder what would happen if I was playing music with less substance, or lyrics with foul and crude language. What type of impact would it have on my little daughter, and now my newborn son? How could I not be ashamed if they repeated demeaning and dirty lyrics, or mimicked some inappropriate pantomime? Unfortunately, I’m not sure if every parent thinks this through until it happens. 

Toward the beginning of this month of February my family (along with many millions more in the world, I'm sure) celebrated what would have been the 70th Birthday of Bob Marley, the man who carried positive and life-giving music all across the world. Every time I reflect on that car ride, and the days since, a verse from one of Bob’s most famous songs comes to mind. “…Three little birds upon my doorstep, singin’ sweet songs of melodies pure and true, sayin’ this is my message to you-ou-ou…” I love that line. Melodies pure and true… yes, that is what sustains me. Everyone has their own taste in music and whatever else that grabs them and brings them to life. However in my own universe, and in the world I’ve created for my family, we surround ourselves with music that builds us up and fills us up with love and strength, with purpose and confidence. Music created from positive vibrations. Roots reggae, or sounds of polyrhythms and languages from all over the African continent, Jamoo, soul, and world music that give thanks and praise or speaks truth no matter what nation it originates from. This is the music of our lives and the beat that we march to. I feel so satisfied and happy to see the impact it already has on our young daughter, singing these sweet songs. And I give thanks for the melodies pure and true, because music is life. In the words of Mr. Robert Nesta Marley, play I some music!...


And Yeshua said unto them, “Yea, have ye never read, ‘Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings Thou hast perfected praise’?” - Matthew 21:16