NPR's Quist-Arcton Dusts To Ray Charles

For Tell Me More's occasional series, "In Your Ear," guests talk about the songs that they turn to for inspiration. NPR's Africa correspondent Ofeibea Quist-Arcton shares the tracks she plays on repeat when she's on assignment or when she's at home in Dakar.

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And now it's time for the occasional series we call In Your Ear. That's when guests of our program tell us what songs they listen to for a little inspiration. Today, we hear from NPR's own Africa correspondent, Ofeibea Quist-Arcton. Here's what's playing in her ear.

OFEIBEA QUIST-ARCTON, BYLINE: Greetings. I am Ofeibea Quist-Arcton, Africa correspondent for NPR. And this is what is playing in my ear, depending on what I'm doing at home.

MIRIAM MAKEBA: In my native village in Johannesburg, there is a song that we always sing when a young girl gets married. It's called "The Click Song" by the English because they cannot say Qongqothwane.

QUIST-ARCTON: Miriam Makeba, Mama Africa, the number one voice for me in the world. When we were kids, we would click along with her in her native hausa language, and we would sing this song and speak the words that she says right at the beginning of the song; then all five of us, the Quist-Arcton kids, would burst out laughing, and then we would continue singing "The Click Song" with Miriam Makeba. Enjoy.


MAKEBA: (Singing in foreign language)

QUIST-ARCTON: My favorite singer of all times is Miriam Makeba, because she had a singular, distinctive voice. May she rest in peace.

"Laku tshoni'langa" talks about - is it the sunrise or sunset? But it is such a lyrical, beautiful, calming lullaby. Whenever my nerves are frayed, this is what calms me down.


MAKEBA: (Singing in foreign language)


RAY CHARLES: (Singing) Oh beautiful for heroes proved in liberating strife...

QUIST-ARCTON: And another song I can't live without is "America," by Ray Charles. Now, this is the song I'm, you know, letting out my secrets here - that I do my housework to. So as I'm swishing my feather duster around, getting rid of the cobwebs and the dust that has accumulated whilst I've been away on assignment somewhere, it's Ray Charles who helps me do my housework.


CHARLES: I wish I had somebody to help me sing this.

UNIDENTIFIED PEOPLE: (Singing) America. America, God shed his grace on thee.

CHARLES: (Singing) America. I love you America. You see, my God he done shed his grace on thee. You ought to love him for it. Because he, he, he crown thy good, he told me he would, every brotherhood from sea to shining sea.


QUIST-ARCTON: Another song that plays constantly in my ears is "Yolele" by Papa Wemba. It was when he kind of changed gear and just came out with this revolutionary album called "Emotion." When he comes out with the bum, bum, bum, bum, bum, bum-bum, bum, bum, that beat just sets me off and then I start dancing and I start singing along with the Congolese, Papa Wemba.


PAPA WEMBA: (Singing in foreign language)

QUIST-ARCTON: "Yolele" by Papa Wemba. Hi(ph).


WEMBA: (Singing in foreign language)

LYDEN: That was NPR's African correspondent Ofeibea Quist-Arcton telling us what's playing in her ear.

And that's our program for today. I'm Jacki Lyden and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Let's talk more tomorrow.


WEMBA: (Singing in foreign language)

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