English singer Charlie Simpson

English singer Charlie Simpson writes and performs song with a San tribe in Southern Africa [video]

What happens when western pop music meets the traditional sounds of one of Africa’s oldest tribes?

English singer Charlie Simpson

Charlie Simpson, who some may recognise from British band, Busted, recorded a song with the descendants of the oldest humans on earth, the San people.

The singer travelled to the village of Grashoek in north-east Namibia last year as part of a new series called Singing In The Rainforest where various singers and bands make music with indigenous tribes around the world.

The project has the potential to come across as tasteless – white man brings western music to African tribe- but it ended up as a two-way learning process and the end result is actually rather beautiful.

After the show airs the song is available to buy on iTunes and all the money raised goes to help the San tribe.

Charlie and the San

Making the music

Simpson brought his electric guitar and western pop music to a tribe where music is a means for communicating with ancestors and is not categorised into verses or a chorus.

“I started playing a song in return called Emily off my last solo record, it’s quite slow, like a ballad,” explained Simpson.

“Some of the men in the tribe started crying. It was just the most touching experience and I was blown away by it. They all came up and hugged me.”

Similarly, Simpson absorbed himself in the music of the San people.

He told the Telegraph: “Listening to the women’s singing and clapping, one thing that struck me was they syncopate the claps to make a rhythm and that’s not easy.”

Somehow, despite the vast differences in sound, Simpson and the San managed to incorporate their sounds into one song: Walking with the San.

In the song, the San tribe sing Simpson’s lyrics in their language.

The song goes like this:

“Open up your eyes, there is nowhere left for us to hide, I get the feeling that we’re lost in San today, and there are no disguises.

Walking with the San, we are nothing but strangers to this land, can we keep it in our hearts until we can live this way again.”