Gula Gula

Mari Boine Persen

Released 04 April 1990

  1. Gula Gula
  2. Vilges Suola
  3. Balu Badjel Go Vuoittán
  4. Du Lahka
  5. It Šat Duolmma Mu
  6. Eadnán Bákti
  7. Oppskrift For Herrefolk
  8. Duinne

Liner notes

In the Arctic part of Europe, so far north that it is often missing from weather maps on television, lives a small minority of people called the Sámi (formerly known by the derogatory term ‘Lapps’).  Sápmi or Sámiland (‘Lapland’), in the northern parts of Norway, Sweden, Finland and the USSR, is our Homeland, forgotten by many but never by us, and hardly forgotten by adventurous prospectors.

Although the harsh official assimilation policy has been abandoned in recent years, cultural survival is by no means simple for a people who strive for Unity and Peace, yet at the same time are divided by the boarder of four different states representing extreme political opposites.

But centuries of oppression and the working out of survival strategies have given us some experience.  Even though much has been lost and in spite of numerous predictions of rapid extinction we still have our native language – in an amazing variety of dialects.  People with their mother tongue intact have speech, storytelling, teaching, poetry, songs….Our music may sound simple but it is as strong and sure as the wind that touches the wild mountain tops of our beautiful homeland, and as old as the soft waves that constantly caress our coasts.

Mari Boine Persen, from Iggaldas, not very far from the North Cape, is one of a number of Sámi artists who have taken on the traditional poetry and music of our Sámi heritage as a base for new interpretations – with a message for our time and the future.

Mari is well known today as a musician.  Originally educated as a teacher, she did not remain long in the profession.  She kept asking questions —about her origins, about the roads that could lead to a society built upon human dignity.  Her second album was released in Scandinavia in 1989.  Gula Gula – ‘Hear the Voices of the Foremothers’ – is the expression of a woman living in conflict between two ways of thinking, between two cultures.

Mari was born and raised in Gamehisnjárga, a promontory around which the river Anarjohka quietly flows.  Her parents made a living from salmon fishing and farming and she grew up steeped in the region’s natural environment.  The school she attended, although close to home, reflected a very different, foreign world.  Even the language was foreign— there was not a single class in nine years of schooling conducted in her native tongue.  She was ashamed of her people and her origins.  A rebellion began, however, against her own role as an inferior Lappish woman in the great Norwegian society.  She wrote her first song with lyrics rooted in her own difficult experiences.

Released on Real World Records in 1990, the album is now available through Lean/Universal Music.

Further Listening

  • A Week In The Real World – Part 1

    Various Artists

    Released 05 June 1992

    In August 1991 Real World Studios opened its doors to over 75 artists from 20 countries for a unique recording project. This album is the first of two volumes containing fascinating musical encounters between established and lesser-known artists from across the world at Real World Recording Week.
  • Yol Bolsin

    Sevara Nazarkhan

    Released 03 February 2003

    A collection of folk and peasant songs from Uzbekistan, a country that formally broke with the Soviet Union in 1991 and has worked hard to reassert its rich cultural identity ever since. Imbued with echoes of Persian classical music and the meditational Sufi tradition, traditional Uzbek music takes the form of poetic songs called ‘maqams’.

Further reading

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