Our Music

 
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Our Instrumentation

 
Guitar, Harmonica, Trumpet, Mandolin, Banjo and a raft of African Finger Pianos: Kalimba, Sansa, Mbuti, Mbira, Morimbula, and Rhumba Box.
 







Photos:

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photo photo
1.8mb file
(photo by Herman Leonard)
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(photo by Herman Leonard)
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(photo by Herman Leonard)
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(photo by Herman Leonard)
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(photo by Herman Leonard)
6.6mb file
(photo by Josephine Sacabo)
   
   


Bio:

Click here for a printable bio.

From Charles Kuralt's America
G.P. Putnams Sons, NY
Copyright 1995 by Charles Kuralt

Some of the street performers are precocious beginnersSome are old pros, like David Leonard and Roselyn Lionhart. She plays guitar, mandolin, and several African instruments"kalimba, morimbula, and the like"he plays guitar, cornet, and harmonica. They both sing. They are
very good, and their open guitar case fills quickly with cash whenever a crowd gathers.

Here is Roselyn explaining New Orleans jazz funerals to a knot of tourists: "You,re not supposed to cry at a funeral. Did you know that? You are supposed to rejoice that another poor soul has escaped this vale of tears, at the very least you can be glad it wasn't you!"

At that point, the two of them launch into a fine, swinging "Saints Go Marching In." Since the audience never tires of the song, neither do they. When the weather gets too hot in New Orleans, David and Roselyn said, they go off to play in the streets of Paris or Perugia. The French Quarter street scene offers livelier sounds than most of its indoor music clubs these days.

 


From "Passing The Hat: Street Performers In America"
by Patricia J. Campbell
Delacorte Press, NY Copyright 1981 by Patricia J. Campbell

The musical team of Roselyn Lionhart and David Leonard is of long duration, twenty-one years. note 1 "Seems like yesterday," said David. "Seems like forever," said Roselyn. They have four children: two college age daughters, three year old Autumn Rose and a son born in Febuary 1980 and named David Stormborn in memory of the rainy circumstances of his birth. They are both accomplished musicians and singers, but together they are an interesting complement and contrast. David, with his flowing hair and genial eyes, is warm and relaxed; Roselyn, with her hair braided in beaded cornrows or tied up in a scarf, is a dormant volcano. Her earthy power is apparent in performance; on the street their delivery is so casual as to seem almost offhand, yet they quickly draw a crowd. Roselyn's blues singing has been compared to Bessie Smith's. She has a big gutsy voice when she lets it full out, and David has a sure, pleasant baritone. They harmonize with the empathy of twenty-one years behind them. Their repertoire is folk jazz, a description that includes country blues, Afro rhythms, Arkansas party riddles, Georgia Sea Island chants, spirituals, and their own compositions. Usually David plays the guitar and harmonica and Roselyn strums the mandolin or her own guitar, but once in a while she will lay those instruments aside and pick up the rhumba box, a Haitian folk instrument, for a twanging, thumping percussion break. note 2

In the early days of the civil rights struggle, when an interracial marriage was a strange and dangerous thing, David and Roselyn were deeply involved in voter registration drives in the South. They have lived in the ghettos of Detroit and have even played on the street in that city. Their first streetsinging experience came out of desperation, when on the way to Miami their bus broke down in Louisiana and stranded them with no money for repairs. Since then they've "put in the hours," and their easeful confidence on the street comes from years of experience with all kinds of situations. Their year is divided between New Orleans and Los Angeles, and they earn most of their living on the street, playing only occasional nightclub or coffeehouse dates. "Why should we pay a big percentage to a manager and an agent and a club owner? asks David. note 3

Note 1: Married December 31, 1959.

Note 2: All the African Diaspora Caribbean nations use variations of the rhumba box or morumbuti. My original one was from Jamaica. - Roselyn

Note 3: That was then, now we make more doing fairs, festivals, schools, libraries etc. and we don't mind paying agent's fees if they are getting us gigs that pay enough! - Roselyn

 

David and Roselyn

 

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