It is well known, music has many virtues. It improves our mental well-being, brain plasticity and cognitive abilities. But that’s not all, it also appears to be able to raise public awareness of the threats to biodiversity. The proof with the album “A Guide to the Birdsong of Western Africa”, inspired by the songs of endangered birds in West Africa.
Nature has aroused the curiosity of musicians for centuries. Many such as Olivier Messiaen and Dominik Eulberg pay tribute to him by incorporating some of his sounds into their compositions. Shika Shika is doing the same as part of his “Birdsong” project.
Founded in 2014 by Robert Perkins and Augustin Rivaldo, the label works with renowned musicians and producers to warn music lovers about the disappearance of many bird species due to deforestation, global warming or poaching. “We wanted to focus on birds, not only because of their longstanding connection to humans as a musical species, but also because birds are known to be very valuable indicators of the health of the natural world”he declared.
Shika Shika has already released two albums for which artists such as Damon Albarn and Jeff Tweedy have composed songs inspired by the songs of endangered birds around the world. The first was devoted to South America (2015), and the second to Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean (2020). The label turned to West Africa for its new opus, “A Guide to the Birdsong of Western Africa”.
With help from Birdlife Africa, the African Bird Club and the AP Leventis Ornithological Research Institute, he first compiled a list of endangered birds in the region. Among them are the crowned crane, the gray Timneh parrot or the Sao Tome neospize, whose population is estimated to be between 50 and 250 individuals according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
“Our selection of birds includes not only the most endangered or the most beautiful warblers. Rather, these species reflect the larger story of the disappearance of species and their habitats in the region and the need for action.”
Birds more popular than ABBA
After the birdsong was selected, the second step was to find African musicians who were willing to participate (volunteer) on the album. Malian guitarist Vieux Farka Touré, Sierra Leone’s Allstar Refugees band, Ivorian musician Ruth Tafébé and Afro-house producer Buruntuma have all agreed to compose a track for the album.
Crowdfunding of more than 20,000 euros made it possible to cover the production costs of “A Guide to the Birdsong of Western Africa”. Proceeds from the album will go to three projects for the conservation of biodiversity on the African continent.
It is not the first time that a musical project has committed itself to the conservation of endangered birds. The BirdLife Association released the album “Songs of Disappearance” last December to help conserve Australia’s wildlife. “This album is a very special record with rare recordings of birds that may not survive if we don’t come together to protect them”said Paul Sullivan, then chief executive of BirdLife Australia. The music network†
To everyone’s surprise, the record was so popular that it was on the list of the 50 most popular albums in Australia for three weeks. He even managed to get ahead of Taylor Swift, ABBA and Olivia Rodrigo in the Pacific country charts the week of December 20. Proof that biodiversity conservation sells records.
(ETX Daily Up)