Darius McCrary talks about his Character Sitano Ellis
(Los Angeles, CA – April 14, 2022) MOJA: A Music Saga, the history of Black Music from the drums of Africa, through the diaspora and the horrors of slavery to America’s Gospel, Blues, Jazz, R&B, Rock and Hip Hip-Hop does a soft roll out of volumes one through four of an eight-volume set with the remaining volumes set to be released one per month over the next four months.
This epic saga is narrated by actor, producer, rapper, and singer Darius McCrary (Transformers, Mississippi Burning, Family Matters) and Emmy Award-winning, three-time Grammy nominee, Blues artist Billy Branch.
The 75-song musical event took five years to complete. It utilized the talents of 500 musicians, singers, artists, producers, Grammy Award winners, and nominees from around the globe.
Grammy-nominated musician, producer, writer, and creator of MOJA: A Music Saga, Carl Gustafson said, “Integrity toward the music is paramount. The songs about Africa were recorded in Africa by Africans. The songs of Cuba were recorded in Cuba by Cubans. Same in New Orleans, Chicago, Mississippi, England, and everywhere else the story went.”
MOJA: A Music Saga is an audio adventure that skillfully uses skits, sound effects, and original music to tell the story of how African music has influenced American music through seven generations of the Ellis family. The family’s story starts with Moja Musiki, a.k.a. Moja Ellis, a tall, attractive, strong African female drummer who was taken from her home in East Africa and sold into slavery in New Orleans in the 1850s. She survived the perils of slavery and raised her son Bili Ellis using her music skills. The Ellis family gift of music was then passed down to Bili’s daughter, musician and bandleader Tattie, her son Innes, and his daughter Tanya, ending in today’s time with Moja’s great-great-grandson, Hip Hop star Sitano and his two-year-old daughter Sabbath.
Through the narrator Billy Branch (Innes) and Darius McCrary (Sitano), this 165-year journey of driven souls is told through the music and stories of seven characters of seven generations, following the progression and changing styles of African rooted music in America from the 1800s to the 2000s.
Gustafson said of the saga wrapped in music, “This story never happened exactly this way, but it happened thousands of times over many hundreds of years. This is the palate that the storyteller, artist, and novelist, works with as the events come back to life.”
Executive produced by two-time Grammy Award-winning Blues great Bobby Rush, and world-renown Djembe master, Weedie Braimah, MOJA: A Music Saga immerses the listener in an entertaining, dramatic, sometimes gritty, and realistic history lesson of a people and their music, from slavery, reconstruction, Jim Crow and segregation to the civil rights era.
“MOJA: A Music Saga is not a musical. The characters don’t break out singing. It is not an audiobook. It’s not a documentary, but it does have historical facts, dates, names, and places. It is a story that had already been written by those who lived it. MOJA is part of a conscious effort to tell these stories and project the many generations of voices that have historically been silenced,” explained Gustafson.
MOJA: A Music Saga is set to have an international impact on music lovers and historians alike, changing the world’s view of Africa’s influence on American Music forever.
For more information, or to stream or purchase MOJA: A Music Saga visit www.mojasaga.com.
About Carl Gustafson, Writer and Producer of MOJA: A Music Saga
Born in Deadwood, S. Dakota, Grammy nominee, musician, producer, adventurer, and writer, Carl Gustafson, grew up in Laramie, Wyoming where his first jobs were on cattle ranches as a teenager. He formed his first band at eighteen years old after falling in love with soul, old R&B, James Brown Funk, and Blues. Music has taken him to forty-four countries including eight trips to Africa where he traveled coast to coast.
Carl’s band, Blinddog Smokin’, was dubbed “America’s Road Warriors” by Southland Blues Magazine for their relentless touring schedule. Along the backroads, they met Blues Great, Bobby Rush, and Carl and they became fast friends and remained so over the decades, and periodically tour together. They used to discuss and ponder the origins of the music they loved, and it led to a twelve-song roadshow depicting the journey of African -influenced music over time. But before they even started, they realized they were only scratching the surface, and the concept of what has now become the Moja project was born.
Carl is the author of the book, Ain’t Just Blues, It’s Showtime, has been a columnist for many magazines, and was recently elected to the National Senior Softball Hall of Fame. Carl and his band’s songwriting and recording with Dr. John and Bobby Rush landed them Backbeat Magazine’s Blues Album of the year, Blues Blast Magazine’s Soul Blues Album of the year, and took them to the Grammys. Carl has written and recorded over 200 songs. He lives in Laramie, Wyoming with his wife Linda. He has three daughters, a son, a stepdaughter, and six grandchildren.
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