The first of its kind, MOJA: A Music Saga is a multi-volume audio adventure that utilizes dialogue between characters, sound effects and original music to tell a story. Think of it as a classic radio play, but with world-class music throughout. Listeners will be able to visualize the characters and settings described using only details from the dialogue, sound effects and the raw emotion from each song.
As a musician on the road for most of his life, Carl Gustafson began to wonder where the music he loved, and performed, originated from. When he met blues icon Bobby Rush in 1995, the two became fast friends and talked about creating a live performance show that depicted the journey of African-influenced music over time. Initially, they chose 12 cover songs from different time periods and performsd parts of it at road festivals. After a few shows, they knew they had only scratched the surface of what this project could really be.
“The story had already been written by those who lived it,” Carl explains. MOJA is part of a conscious effort to tell these stories and project the many generations of voices that have historically been silenced.
Each song in the saga has elements recorded in the location where the coinciding story took place. For example, in Volume 1, the song “Bagamoyo” was written in Bagamoyo. “Abundantly” was written in Tanzania and preformed by Tanzanians. The songs about Cuba were written and recorded in Cuba. Much of Volume Two’s “Congo Square” was written and recorded in New Orleans, Moja and Bili’s first stop in America. Altogether, Moja was recorded in 38 studios across seven countries. USA, Cuba, England, Senegal, Mali, Uganda, Tanzania, as well as certain authentic recorded effects in several other countries.
The Moja Saga is a story of the progression of music –– where it came from, where it’s going, how it came about, and why. For this reason, listeners will enjoy this wide variety of completely different genres, all woven together like a beautifully composed quilt. The story begins 169 years ago, continues to present day, and spans thousands of miles across the globe, so you’ll hear A capella, Doo-wop, Gospel, Soul, R&B, Blues, Jazz, Cuban Big Band, Hip Hop, Rap, Pop, Rock, Classical, Bluegrass, Ragtime, African Folklore, Funk, Vaudeville, and Country/Western music to name a few.
Plus, the characters travel from western to Eastern Africa, around the Cape of Good Hope to Cuba, then to the southeastern United States. The music, in turn, changes with the geography, exposing listeners to traditional African song and dance, Latin/World music from Cuba, and the Southern Gospel, Soul and R&B in New Orleans, Louisiana. As Moja and Bili continue their journey north –– and also, eventually, further west –– we see the beginning of Country, Pop and Rock in America.