Motherhood is a powerful part of humanity. While some of the reasons why motherhood wields so much power have been biologically proven, most remain shrouded in mystery. Nonetheless, behind motherhood is womanhood that no amount of ‘wokeness’ can convince us not to celebrate.
You might have called or sent your mother and/or wife a text this morning, but a day this special like this requires something special from the music and entertainment side. But while you’re at it, try not to play the horror flick, ‘Happy Mother’s Day’ for your mother, it won’t end well.
The songs on this playlist were picked for different reasons; timelessness, messaging, inspiration behind them, cultural relevance and so forth. Here is the playlist;
Prince Nico Mbarga – Sweet Mother
Cliché, maybe. But timeless, definitely. This song is in the cultural realm of 'Happy Birthday' by Evi-Edna Ogholi or Sunny Neji’s 'Oruka' that celebrates weddings for topical relevance. Every society has its definition of classic tunes that appreciate different topics and this classic by Prince Nico Mbarga is synonymous with motherhood in Nigeria.
Chances are that though we need news songs, our mothers will appreciate this song than any song offered them on days like this.
The Beatles – Let It Be
With the impact The Beatles had on music and pop culture, it is sometimes difficult to believe that the group was only together for nine to ten years. They redefined the culture of music and played with the limits of genres. 'Let It Be' is the title track from their final album.
The lyrics to the song reads;
“When I find myself in times of trouble, Mother Mary comes to me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be
And in my hour of darkness she is standing right in front of me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be
Let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be”
The song was written by Paul McCartney and he claims to have gotten the inspiration during the recording of album, 'The Beatles,' commonly referred as 'The White Album.'
McCartney’s mother had died of cancer when he was 14. Around this time, the group was going through a tough time that they had not performed live together in years. McCartney claims his mother had visited him in a dream.
At the time, it has been reported that McCartney was the only one who wanted the group to stay together. He was worried, hence the 'Let It Be' repetition to probably signify that he could fight no more – inspired by his mother who had died over 10 years prior, underlining the power of motherhood.
Dipo Sodipo – Iya Ni Wura
The late Dipo Sodipo was more than just his signature baritone vocals, he was a staple of music that continues pop culture. But this is one of his many songs that will continue to inspire pop culture long after we are all gone. 'Iya Ni Wura' simply means 'Mother is gold.'
While wokeness has made a lot of us reduce sentences like that to connoting subservience, the rest of the world understands the concept of mother. If mothers are not more than gold, then I don’t know what is. 'Iya Ni Wura' is also a classic Yoruba saying.
Jesse King – Mummy
In the 2000s, a certain Nigerian singer from the gimmick-school of Nigerian folk singers like Lagbaja came with a gimmick that immediately sold him. It was that of a palmwine tapper in Yoruba farms, complete with the cap that felt like putting a sock in another sock. His stage name was Jesse King, but most Nigerians call him by his viral first single and first hit, 'Buga.'
His first album was an instant hit in different parts of Nigeria and practically made him an overnight celebrity. However, his most timeless song was titled, 'Mummy' off his 2006 debut album, 'BUGA.' On the song, King’s female backup ensemble sing in Yoruba;
“Mummy o o o, w ape laye
Mummy o o o, wa jeun omo
Eni ba ni ko ni ri bee, a fo loju
A kan lapa ko senu trailer, a tun run we…”
The English translation is, “Mummy, you will live long, Mummy you will reap the fruit of your labour. Whoever says this won’t happen will go blind, will break his hand and get hit by a truck.” Heavy, you’re right. But those exact words made the song a hit across Nigeria.
Kanye West – Hey Mama
On November 10, 2007, Donda West, mother of rap superstar, Kanye West died of post-operative coronary heart disease. It was a dark time for the rapper. On this song, he tells different stories about his mother.
One was from when he was a 7-year-old being a knucklehead and another was when she supported him even though he chose a rap career over a doctorate degree per her advice.
The song is powerful and again, shows the power of motherhood, albeit from the perspective of a loss. But like Kanye raps, sometimes, it doesn’t have to be your mother’s birthday to celebrate her. The song was included on West’s third album, 'Late Registration.'
Sufjan Stevens – Carrie and Lowell
Sometimes, some people have a mixed relationship with their mothers, yet they try. In this song, Sufjan Stevens sings about a mother that was in and out of his life after she left him when he was just a toddler. The song cruises on vocal exercises and a syco guitar, playing riffs like they were off the mastery of a street Mariachi band, playing American folk music.
Despite the uneasy relationship, Stevens still has some love for his mother. Remember, some of the reasons why motherhood wields so much power remains unproven. Around 1:44. the song hits another level of melody when a cloud string comes on.
Drake – Look What You’ve Done
Off his Grammy-award winning sophomore album, 'Thank Me Later,' packed with honest, emotional moments, Canadian rapper, Drake rolls on this chronicle about motherhood. The song is dedicated to his mother, Sandi, his grandmother, Evelyn and his Uncle, Steve.
Drake talks about the reality of relationship of non-sexual love, before he signed to Young Money Entertainment; the arguments and the reconciliations he had with his mother, Sandi, which sometimes led to drug abuse.
Drake's tale of his mother on the first verse was not all sunshine and rainbows, but one felt only love on this song that ranged between a ballad laced with infectious piano-chords and an intermittent drum-bounce around the hook.
The song ends with Drake’s grandmother, Evelyn thanking him for keeping him in comfortable living conditions.
Asa – So Beautiful
Asa’s 'So Beautiful' is a spectacularly conceived and executed ode to motherhood. The beauty of the song was starting off a mellow-ballad, infused with methodical acoustic guitar chords, married with the underlying bass guitar accentuation before ascending into the powerful realm of danceable Nigerian folk music and then back to the ballad-phase.
Asa talks about how much she appreciates and prays for her “beautiful” mother. She also sings in Yoruba that, “Orisa bi iya o si laye,” which means, “There’s no oracle like the mother on earth.” She was right, she has been right and she will be right in 100 years.
Davido – Wonder Woman
While the song might have been corny and cliché, one cannot help but appreciate the idea behind the song that aimed to celebrate the concept of womanhood - the fundamental to motherhood. Nigerian singer, Davido celebrates the two mothers of his two beautiful girls, his girlfriend, Chioma and other strong women including, Betty Irabor.
Juliana Kanyomozi – Woman
In 2015, Ugandan pop princess, Juliana Kanyomozi hopped on this powerful and eclectic ballad that fuses piano chords, the strings of a major organ and African folk drums to talk about the warrior and savior that a woman is.