MOJA: A Music Saga, the history of Black Music from the drums of Africa to America’s Jazz, Blues, and Gospel releases the complete eight-volume set just in time for Grammy Award Nomination consideration by voting members of the Recording Academy.
MOJA: A Music Saga is told through seven generations of the Ellis (Muziki) family featuring voice actors 3x Grammy Nominee, Emmy Award winner, and Blues Hall of Famer Billy Branch, who plays fearless grandfather Innes Ellis, patriarch of the Ellis family, and actor, rapper, singer and producer, Darius McCrary as Sitano, Innes’ Hip Hop superstar grandson.
During this epic 165-year journey, Billy Branch’s character Innes Ellis, the fourth generation of the Muziki family (originating in Africa) of musicians in America, unpacks their musical legacy to his grandson Sitano through historically based stories intertwined with the evolution of musical genres of American music rooted in the soul of African music.
MOJA: A Music Saga is a 75-song musical event that took five years to complete. It utilizes the talents of 500 incredible musicians, singers, artists, producers, Grammy Award winners, and nominees from around the globe.
Grammy-nominated musician, producer, writer, and creator of MOJA: A Music Saga, Carl Gustafson, said, “Integrity toward the music is paramount. The songs about Africa were recorded in Africa by Africans. The songs of Cuba were recorded in Cuba by Cubans. Same in New Orleans, Chicago, Mississippi, England, and everywhere else the story went.
MOJA: A Music Saga is an audio adventure that skillfully uses skits, sound effects, and original music to tell the story of how African music has influenced American music through seven generations of the Ellis family. The family’s story starts with Moja Muziki, a.k.a. Moja Ellis, a tall, attractive, strong African female drummer who was taken from her home in East Africa and sold into slavery in New Orleans in the 1850s. She survived the perils of slavery and raised her son Bili Ellis using her music skills. The Ellis family gift of music was then passed down to Bili’s daughter, musician and band leader Tattie, her son Innes, and his daughter Tanya, ending in today’s time with Moja’s great-great grandson, Hip Hop star Sitano and his two-year-old daughter Sabbath.
Gustafson said of the saga wrapped in music, “This story never happened exactly this way, but it happened thousands of times over many hundreds of years. This is the palate that the storyteller, artist, and novelist, works with as the events come back to life.”
Executive produced by two-time Grammy Award-winning Blues great Bobby Rush and world-renowned Djembe master Weedie Braimah, MOJA: A Music Saga immerses the listener in an entertaining, dramatic, sometimes gritty, and realistic history lesson of a people and their music, from slavery through reconstruction, Jim Crow and segregation to the civil rights era.
“MOJA: A Music Saga is not a musical. The characters don’t break out singing. It is not an audiobook. It’s not a documentary, but it does have historical facts, dates, names, and places. It is a story that had already been written by those who lived it. MOJA is part of a conscious effort to tell these stories and project the many generations of voices that have historically been silenced,” explained Gustafson.
As MOJA: A Music Saga positions itself for consideration of a Grammy Nomination, it is set to change the world’s view of Africa’s influence on American Music forever.