Monday, February 16, 2015

Monday Music Break: The Lion Sleeps Tonight

In 1961 a white five-guy doo-wop group calling themselves The Tokens had a mega-hit with "The Lion Sleeps Tonight":

Take a look at those guys and tell me which one sang soprano on this track.

Right. None of them. The actual soprano was the most famous singer you've never heard of, Anita Durian, who died just this month, at the age of 87. She had an incredible four-octave range and was in high demand for most of her career.

Her accomplishments include performing in everything from opera and classical recitals to television jingles and cartoon voice-overs. She appeared in several television productions of musicals and operas from the 1950s to the 1970s. It's too bad that she never got the stardom that she deserved, but she does deserve to be remembered, if only for that incredible voice.

The song itself also has an interesting history, being that it was originally composed in Zulu and first recorded in South Africa way back in 1939. That backstory comes complete with accusations of plagiarism along with various copyright issues stemming from its use by Disney in the soundtrack of The Lion King.

1 Comment:

double nickel said...

Cool story, I had no idea. Remember the song well, from when it first came out....because I'm frikken old!