Writer: Riley OliphantLast September, the BYU Men’s Chorus invited YouTube sensation, Alex Boyé, to join them in a new music video of Baba Yetu, a choral, Swahili version of the Lord’s Prayer.
BYU Sound Engineer Jeff Carter recorded and mixed a new version of this popular song from the Men’s Chorus repertoire to include the BYU Philharmonic conducted by Kory Katseanes and features Alex Boyé, a former member of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir who rose to fame with his 'Africanized' version of well-known pop songs.
"As this is an African version of the Lord’s Prayer, we thought of Alex Boyé and his 'Africianized' songs, so we invited him to be a soloist and he was perfect," said Benjamin Jacob, president of the BYU Men's Chorus. "He brought his own style to the piece—just a great combination of Men’s Chorus and Alex Boyé."
The music video, directed by BYU Department of Theatre and Media Arts Associate Professor Jeff Parkin, tells the story of spiritual discovery. This message is why Boyé believes he personally felt a deep connection to this particular song.
"When my family found out I joined the church at the age of 16, I was kicked out of my house," Boyé said. "That night, I walked the streets of London in tears clinging to The Book of Mormon like my life depended on it. It was the only thing constant left in my life. Whilst walking the streets homeless, I would recite the Lord's Prayer and it became a source of deep comfort to me.”
The shoot involved more than 300 students from the BYU College of Fine Arts and Communications in an afternoon at the top of South Fork in Provo Canyon. Through the release of this video, the choir hopes to spread a joyful message to everyone.
"I think we all want a lot of views, but if there were millions of views without a change in people’s hearts, it wouldn't be very meaningful," said Daniel Kellis, BYU Men’s Chorus video manager and director of photography for the shoot. "We wanted to instead make a video that brought hope, light and purpose into people's lives!"
Baba Yetu, composed originally for the video game Civilizations IV by Christopher Tin and arranged by Derek Machan, has been in the Chorus’ repertoire for more than three years. Rosalind Hall, the conductor of the BYU Men's Chorus, reached out to Tin before the song was published in a men’s arrangement after it won the 2011 Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist(s). Hall considers this particular song to be particularly well suited to the Men’s Chorus.
"Last year, we had a chance to sing it with the orchestra," Hall said. "It was such a success that people were begging us to make a video of it. We want to do more videos, which will allow us to share our music with a wider audience. Baba Yetu was a perfect fit."