Voices Given New Expression

News & Notes technical director Sherene Strausberg selected this week's staff song pick. When she's not working the faders in our control room, Strausberg writes film scores. Naturally, she chose a song off a film soundtrack. The film is The General's Daughter, and the song is "She Began to Lie" by Greg Hale Jones.

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FARAI CHIDEYA, host:

It's time for our staff song pick of the week. And this week, we've got Sherene Strausberg in the hot seat. She is our technical director for NEWS & NOTES. So, welcome to the other side of the glass.

SHERENE STRAUSBERG: Thanks, Farai. I love being on this side of the microphone.

CHIDEYA: So what song did you pick this week to share with the NEWS & NOTES folks?

STRAUSBERG: Well, my song pick comes from the soundtrack to the "General's Daughter." It's called "She Began To Lie," and it's by Greg Hale Jones.

(Soundbite of song, "She Began To Lie")

Ms. CHRISTINE SHIPP and Ms. KATHERINE SHIPP (Resident, Mississippi): (Singing) Sea lion woman, sea lion. She drank coffee, sea lion. She drank tea, sea lion. And he gamble lie, sea lion.

CHIDEYA: It's a pretty great song. I mean, it sounds like a mixed of new and old. What's the story behind the old sound?

STRAUSBERG: Yeah, it's actually an interesting story. Basically, the composer, Greg Hale Jones, went and got field recordings from the Library of Congress. And specifically the one used in this song is from 1939, and it's of a cappella voices that's used as a loop in this song.

(Soundbite of song, "She Began To Lie")

Ms. C. SHIPP and Ms. K. SHIPP: (Singing) Sea lion woman, sea lion.

STRAUSBERG: And the girls singing are Katherine and Christine Shipp. They're sisters in a family of 14 kids. And they are from a small town in Mississippi.

(Soundbite of song, "She Began To Lie")

Ms. C. SHIPP and Ms. K. SHIPP: (Singing) And he gamble lie, sea lion.

STRAUSBERG: It's just really great how he uses this old recording and puts it with new electronic music.

CHIDEYA: So given how this was set up by Greg Hale Jones, how did he get the old recording?

STRAUSBERG: One of the things that's so cool about movie soundtracks is that, often, film studios are going to have the budget to find a buried recording or something underground that nobody else might be able to find. And Greg Hale Jones was able to get this African-American hymn from the Library of Congress. The only reason the Library of Congress allowed him to use this recording was to take the earnings from this recording and make sure that it went to an heir to the Shipp family, which they actually did.

CHIDEYA: Wow, that is fascinating. And why did you pick this? What do you feel and like about the track?

STRAUSBERG: I really love the dichotomy of using something very old and a cappella. Just, you know, girls singing in the field outside and using electronic instruments and live instruments. The composer added in a banjo and harmonica and all those different drumming sounds. And it's that mixed of old and new that I just really love and it creates this incredibly eerie sound.

(Soundbite of song, "She Began To Lie")

Ms. C. SHIPP and Ms. K. SHIPP: And the rooster crow, sea lion. And he got no lie, sea lion.

CHIDEYA: So how did you get listening to movie soundtracks in the first place?

STRAUSBERG: I've pretty much been listening to movie soundtracks since I was a kid. I actually knew I wanted to be a film composer when I was 16 years old. And it took me about 10 years to get to this point but I moved out to L.A. five years ago, and I've been writing film scores ever since. And now I own hundreds of movie soundtracks, and it's really great. I love listening to them as inspiration or just to keep up to date on what's coming out in new film scores. So, yeah, it's just so much great music on film soundtracks.

CHIDEYA: Well, Sherene, it's really interesting stuff. Thanks for sharing your song with us.

STRAUSBERG: My pleasure, Farai.

CHIDEYA: Sherene Strausberg is our technical director for NEWS & NOTES. And when she's not technically directing, she's buried in her home studio writing film music.

(Soundbite of song, "She Began to Lie")

CHIDEYA: That's our show for today. Thank you for sharing your time with us. To listen to the show or subscribe to our podcast, visit our Web site, nprnewsandnotes.org. No spaces, just nprnewsandnotes.org. To join the conversation or sign up for our newsletter, visit our blog at nprnewsandviews.org. Of course, we have ongoing coverage of Katrina.

NEWS & NOTES was created by NPR News and the African American Public Radio Consortium. Tomorrow, a story of love and loss from a woman who refused to give up her neighborhood to Katrina.

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