Saturday, January 7, 2012

Baba Ese (You Are The Pillar That Holds My Life), Part 1

Edited by Azizi Powell

This is Part 1 in a series of 3 posts on the African Gospel song "Baba Ese". Both Part 1 and Part 2 of this series focus on selected Yoruba versions of this song.

Click for Part 2 of that series.

Part 3 of this series focuses on selected versions of this song have include the line "You Are The Pillar That Hold My Life".

Click for Part 3 of that series.

Numbers are assigned for these featured videos throughout the three blog posts in this series.

Few lyric versions of "Baba Ese" are available online. Because I don't know Yoruba (the language from which this song comes) I'm unable to transcribe examples sung in that language. However, in the cases that those transcriptions, or portions of those transcriptions, are available for these featured example, I have reposted those transcriptions with that particular video.

By no means am I an expert on "Baba Ese" or on any other African Gospel song. I'm an African American community folklorist who is interested in West African cultures, and finds African Gospel songs both spiritually uplifting and aesthetically pleasing. Furthermore, I'm concerned that there's so little information about African Gospel songs online. It's my hope that these blog posts on African Gospel songs will motivate those who are knowledgeable about those songs to document their history, lyrics, and meanings online.

"Baba Ese" (pronounced bah bah eh-shay) is a Yoruba song which is particularly popular among Christians in Nigeria. The title "Baba Ese" means "Thank you Father", with "father" here meaning God. A number of Christian Gospel songs with titles similar to "Baba Ese" can found on YouTube. Among those titles are "Baba Baba Ese Baba", "Baba Ese O", "Baba Ese O Baba" and "Ese O Baba". "You Are The Pillar That Holds My Life" is a line in certain "Baba Ese" (and similar named) songs. That entire line or the line "You Are The Pillar" is used as a title for those "Baba Ese" songs.

It appears that the first recording of songs from the "Baba Ese" family may have been Gospel artist Gbenga Wise's August 1999 recording of "Jehovah/Baba Baba Ese". After an instrumental interlude which follows the "Jehovah" song, Gbenda Wise begins singing his version of the song "Baba Baba Ese".

Video #1: Gbenga Wise -Jehovah/Baba Baba Ese Baba

Uploaded by gbengawise on Sep 9, 2010

"Gbenga Wise" Gospel "African Praise"
On 1/6/2012 I contacted Gbenda Wise and asked him several questions about the songs "Jehovah (You Are The Most High God" and "Baba Baba Ese Baba". I also asked Gbenda Wise if there was any connection between "Baba Baba Ese Baba" and the Yoruba song "I Se Oluwa" ("The Work of the Lord"). I admit to being pleasantly suprised that that renown Gospel artist promptly and graciously responded to my queries and gave me permission to share his responses. With regard to the age of the songs "Jehovah You Are The Most High God" and "Baba Ese", Gbenda Wise said that both songs were old, and he didn't know which was the oldest. With regard to my question was there any connection between the song "Ise Oluwa" and the song "Baba Ese" (besides the fact that they are both old Yoruba religious songs), Gbenga Wise wrote that there were no connections between those two songs.

For more on the online responses I received from Gbenda Wise, click African Gospel Song "You Are The Most High God", Part 1.

For a contemporary, uptempo version of "Ise Oluwa" click for the Example #7 video of Lara George - "Ko Le Baje (God's Work Will Never Be Destroyed".
Gbenda Wise's rendition of "Baba Baba Ese Baba", and a number of other versions of that song that I have heard online, have a tune that is quite similar to "Jehovah You Are The Most High God". In contrast, some songs in the "Baba Ese" family differ in the tunes and/or tempo that they use. For example, Shola Allyson's rendition of "Baba Ese" has a slow tempo, and uses a different tune than Gbenda Wise's "Baba Baba Ese Baba". In contrast to the English lyrics used for the "Pillar That Holds My Life" subset of "Baba Ese" songs, only Yoruba words are used in Shola Allyson's version of "Baba Ese".

Video #2: Shola Allyson - Baba ese

Uploaded by WASHNEW on Jun 28, 2011

Video #3: Oluwa ti se'un nla (Ese Baba) Thank You Father

CCC VoiceofGrace, Uploaded on Jul 8, 2008

Oluwa, Jesus, Thank God, praise, worship, CCC, Voice of Grace, Celestial Church of Christ
No information is given as to the location of this choir. I'm assuming this church service was in Nigeria, in part, because the choir sings in Yoruba, and also because the video is on a page of other Yoruba Christian videos.

At certain parts of this rendition, a member of the choir "testifies" (speaks about God, exhorts others to believe and/or praise God).

Video #4: Ese Baba - Thank You Father

Uploaded by cccvog on Mar 7, 2010

CCC Celestial Church Of Christ VOG Voice Grace Praise Worship

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