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Thread: Need a recommendation for a version of Motherless Child

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
    Twin Cities Area, Minnesota

    Default Need a recommendation for a version of Motherless Child

    I am working on making educational ukulele play along videos that can be used by teachers and jam sessions. I have written about this elsewhere.

    One of the things I am working on is to make videos of all of the songs that are part of the Tampa Bay Ukulele Society Beginner Handbook. I had a chance to visit with their president while at the Florida music education conference this winter, and it seems that people might benefit from being able to play along with those songs at home with a reference recording. I cannot always find songs in the same key...but I still try to use ukulele-friendly chords.

    Today I was going to work on Motherless Child, but I am having a difficult time finding a version that:

    1) Is in the same key, or within a whole step (Am)
    2) Is authentic, preferably performed by someone of African American heritage
    3) Holds a steady tempo that a beginner could follow. Ideally a steady tempo that moves at a strummable pace.

    I am fully aware that performance practice puts #2 and #3 at odds with each other, as freedom of rhythm and improvisation are an element of performance practice. Still...for the sake of making an educational video, a steady tempo is important.

    So...any ideas? Any suggestions for a version of the song to use?
    Playing ukulele since January 2016.

    Have you participated in the thread, "How the Ukulele Found You?" If not, please consider adding your story--they are just fun to read.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Collingwood, ON Canada


    Odetta did it back in the early 1960s. My personal favourite version was by Gordon Lightfoot in the mid-late 60s, but by then it had become a folk song. Ritchie Havens did a version at Woodstock.
    “Errare humanum est, perseverare diabolicum, et tertium non datur. To err is human; to persevere in error is diabolical; there is no third option.”
    Seneca the Younger
    Ukulele reviews * Vintage Uke Music * Tequila * Henry Hudson * Harmonica reviews * Blog

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