Friday, May 30, 2008

Our Favorite Singer -- Katie Melua

A few years ago Keith ran across the music of British singer Katie Melua on an AOL promotion, and he immediately was hooked on the simple melodies and her gorgeous voice, and he ordered her two CDs right away. Both of them have become favorites of ours which is very unusual, for Keith and I have extremely different tastes in music which until now only encompassed John Denver and classical music in common.

Katie's music is global (which makes sense as she was born in Georgia and lived in Northern Ireland before relocating to London at age 14), bluesy at times (Eva Cassidy is a huge influence), in some ways like Billie Holiday and in some ways not. She sings about "Nine Million Bicycles in Beijing" as well as "Market Day in Guernica," the latter a truly haunting song both in melody and in the lyrics. I first learned about what happened in Guernica when studying Picasso's work for the art docent program at the local elementary school. While I didn't much care for the piece of art, preferring Picasso's classical period instead, the event stayed with me. But it was not until I heard Katie Melua's "Market Day in Guernica," sung in first person, that the true atrocity of Guernica was impressed in my mind and heart.

Here are some of the lyrics to "Market Day in Guernica":
My children played a skipping game
On market day in Guernica
On market day before they came
Before they came to Guernica.

I search my soul but cannot start
to find forgiveness in my heart.
My little ones no longer play
In Guernica on market day.

My father wore his linen suit
On market day in Guernica
He always sold the finest fruit
Before they came to Guernica

Now there's no way to let him know
How much I loved and miss him so
I watched as he was blown away
In Guernica on market day.

All blown away

I also like the video for one of her newer songs, "If I Were a Sailboat." We are definitely going to purchase her third CD, Pictures, which came out last fall.

Katie is little known in the U.S., but she is hugely popular in Europe and around the world, and I hope that she gains more of an audience here as well. As she is only 23, she sure has time on her side, and her amazing voice and strong lyrics (she's writing more of her own music with each CD) make her a very remarkable singer in our opinion, anyhow. (And besides, according to Wikipedia, one of her favorite songs is Jeff Buckley's version of "Hallelujah," which is definitely one of my favorites.) Both Katie's and Jeff's music are played here on my blog, along with a nice selection of my favorite U2 songs, so turn up your volume the next time you're here if you haven't already or just click on the song you'd like to hear, including "Nine Million Bicycles," of course....

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