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Saturday, October 13, 2012

The Real Meaning Of The Jamaican Folk Song "Cudelia Brown" ("Cordelia Brown")

Edited by Azizi Powell

This post provide information & comments about as well as lyrics and sound files of the Jamaican Mento song "Cudelia Brown" (also known as "Cordelia Brown").

The content of this post is presented for folkloric, sociological, entertainment, and aesthetic purposes.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

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GENERAL INFORMATION ABOUT MENTO MUSIC
From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mento:
"Mento is a style of Jamaican folk music that predates and has greatly influenced ska and reggae music...

Mento is often confused with calypso, a musical form from Trinidad and Tobago. Although the two share many similarities, they are separate and distinct musical forms...

Mento uses topical lyrics with a humorous slant, commenting on poverty and other social issues. Sexual innuendos are also common. Mento was strongly influenced by calypso, the musical traditions of the Kumina religion and Cuban music. During the mid-20th century, mento was conflated with calypso, and mento was frequently referred to as calypso, kalypso and mento calypso; mento singers frequently used calypso songs and techniques.

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CUDELIA BROWN
Click http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IcUNWfxCfko for a sound file of Cudelia Brown sung by Louise Bennett.
[embedding disabled]
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ZACK MATALON & THE SONNY BRADSHAW QUARTET - Cordelia brown (MRS Uk press)



Published on Sep 19, 2012 by mightydoctorbird
MORE ON
http://mightydoctorbird.blogspot.fr
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LYRICS - CUDELIA BROWN
(Jamaica Mento [folk song], no known composer)

O Cudelia Brown,
Wha mek yu head so red? (Yu head so red!)
O Cudelia Brown,
Wha mek yu head so red? (Yu head so red!)
Yu si' dung eena di sunshine wit' nut'n 'pon yu head,
O Cudelia Brown,
Wha mek yu head so red? (Yu head so red!)
On a moonshine night, on a moonshine night,
I met Missa Ivan, an' Missa Ivan tol' me,
Sey dat 'im gi Neita di drop, Jamaica flop, and di moonshine drop,
Ee-hee-aw, haw; Ee-hee-aw, haw; Ee-hee-aw, haw.
-from Noel Dexter and Godfrey Taylor: Mango Time: Folk Songs of Jamaica (Ian Randle Publishers ; 2007)
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Editor: This version of "Cordelia Brown" was included in Louise Bennett's 1954 record Jamaican Folk Songs", an LP on the Folkways label [F-6846]... http://www.akh.se/lyrics/cordelia_brown.htm

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CORDELIA BROWN

Cordelia Brown



Uploaded by Cupa42 on Mar 7, 2010
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LYRICS: CORDELIA BROWN
(Traditional folk song adapted by Mento composer Lord Burgess)
Oh, Cordelia Brown, although' you never tell,
Oh, Cordelia Brown, still I know your secret well
Yes you fell in love with Ned
And when he left, your head turned red
And right well you know,
That what I say is true

Oh, Cordelia Brown, what make your head so red
Oh, Cordelia Brown, what make your head so red
You say you come out in the sunshine
With nothing on your head
Oh, Cordelia Brown, what make your head so red

Oh, Cordelia Brown, yes I've been far and wide
Now I'm telling you, every girl wants to be a bride
So I know what happen to you
And please strike me down if it isn't true
He said he never would wed,
And that when your head turned red

Oh, Cordelia Brown, what make your head so red
Oh, Cordelia Brown, what make your head so red
You say you come out in the sunshine
With nothing on your head
Oh, Cordelia Brown, what make your head so red

Oh, Cordelia Brown, Saw you waiting' at the train,
Yes, he's gone away, might never return again
Now miss Brown may I confess,
I've yearned this long for your caress
Since your head so red
I think I'll marry Mabel instead

Oh, Cordelia Brown, what make your head so red
Oh, Cordelia Brown, what make your head so red
You say you come out in the sunshine
With nothing on your head
Oh, Cordelia Brown, what make your head so red

Reposted from http://www.nomorelyrics.net/harry_belafonte-lyrics/176355-cordelia_brown-lyrics.html
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* This version was popularized by Harry Belafonte in 1957.

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COMMENTARY: HOW CUDELIA BROWN'S (CORDELIA BROWN) HAIR BECAME RED
Traditional Version
From http://dianebrowneblog.blogspot.com/, an excerpt from an April 17, 2011 post by Diane Brown about her award winning children's book Cordelia Finds Fame and Fortune*:
"O Cordelia Brown whe mek you head so red?
O Cordelia Brown whe mek you head so red?
For you siddung ina de sunshine
Wid nuttin' pon you head
O Cordelia Brown dats why you head so red.

...The story is about a little girl who is teased because she has red hair, in a village where everyone else has chocolate coloured skin like her, but they do not have red hair. She survives the teasing, and in fact, her red hair becomes something of importance in her 'fame and fortune'. It stands out...

It’s a diss [a snap, a rip, a taunt] The other children are “rippin on” (teasing Cordelia Brown in an unkind way) by saying that her hair is red hair because she stood in the sunshine when they actually know her hair is that color because of her mixed racial heritage...

Mento draws on musical traditions brought over by African slaves. The influence of European music is also strong, as slaves who could play musical instruments were often required to play music for their masters. They subsequently incorporated some elements of these traditions into their own folk music. The lyrics of mento songs often deal with aspects of everyday life in a light-hearted and humorous way. Many comment on poverty, poor housing and other social issues. Thinly-veiled sexual references and innuendo are also common themes. Although the treatment of such subjects in mento is comparatively innocent, their appearance has sometimes been seen as a precursor of the slackness found in modern dancehall."
* The book Cordelia Finds Fame and Fortune was first published in Jamaica in 1990 and was also published in the USA in 1994.
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Diane Brown's conclusions about how Cudelia (Cordelia) Brown's came to have naturally red hair is the same conclusion that I reached. The singers taunt a female named Cordelia because her hair's naturally red hair color is different from the hair color of others in her village. They ask her "What makes your hear red?" knowing that it is because she is mixed race. The second verse of that traditional version of "Cudelia Brown" gives an account of Mr. Ivan (a White man) "having relation" with Cordelia's mother Neita (Nita").

I believe that the singers' suggestion that Cudelia's hair is red because she stood out in the sun too long [and thus got sunburnt] was given derisively and would have been met with a scornful "Yeah, right" response. A light skinned or White person's face can turn red due to sunburn, and brown hair may get reddish tinges due to the sun. But I think the people who offered an explanation that Cordelia's hair is red due to her hair being burnt by the sun would have done so for taunting reasons since they know that that's not the real reason for that hair color.
Click http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=76631#3159758 "Lyr Req: Cudelia Brown / Cordelia Brown" to read my comments and other comments about that song.
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Lord Burgess Version (popularized by Harry Belafonte)Version
This version of "Cordelia Brown" gives the implausible explantion for Cordelia's hair being naturally red* because she is embarrassed that the man she wanted to marry left her. In my opinion, if anyone would have actually suggested that explanation, they would have done so in a tongue in cheek, taunting manner because they would have known that the real reason that Cordelia's hair is red is that she is of Black/non-Black ancestry.

*The word "naturally" is emphasized here to distinguish hair color that is natural to a person from hair color which is changed due to the hair being chemical treated.

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RELATED LINKS
Here's a link to an instrumental version of "Cudelia Brown" ("Cordelia Brown"):
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c5utpgUFUeE
Dennis Haynes / Ooh cudelia brown

**
Click http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cordelia for information about the origin and meanings of the female name "Cordelia".

**
Click http://www.mentomusic.com/edricConner.htm for information about & text examples of Mento music.

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ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS AND THANKS
Thanks to the unknown composer of "Cudelia Brown". Thanks to those who performed that song and its adaptation "Cordelia Brown". Thanks also to those whose quotes I featured in this post and to the uploaders of the sound files that are showcased in this post.

Finally, thank you for visiting pancocojams.

Viewer comments are welcomed.

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