Mignon – Gathering Our Tribes


Mignons CD ‘Gathering Our Tribes’ has been a long time coming but it has been worth the wait. Mignon Lee-Warden came to the Illawarra from her native South Africa almost 20 years ago and has immersed herself in the cultural life of the Illawarra. She has been the organizer of a number of festivals, the latest being the highly successful ‘Viva la Gong’ and the Illawarra Refugee Festival. As well she has been the organizer of the Global Green stage at the Illawarra Folk Festival the largest in NSW, which is conducted annually by the Illawarra Folk Club.

She has also performed a number of times at the Folk Club both as a solo performer and with her group Anemone.

Given that her father was one of 150 people to be charged with treason along with Nelson Mandela in 1950 it is not surprising that her songs are a strong cry for justice, fairness and social cohesion.

Her powerful and rich voice is accentuated by underlying rhythms and harmonies that clearly have grown out of the musical traditions of her native South Africa. Mignon leaves the listener in no doubt where she stands on issues. ‘Refugee’ for example is not only an indictment of our treatment of boat people but also ‘the man with the golden ring’, the people smuggler. ‘What kind of world do we live in when we’re forced to flee our own homes’, she asks.

In ‘Global Grieving’ she takes on the issue of the amount that is spent on circuses particularly the fireworks at the Sydney Millennium celebrations. The cost of the fireworks could have fed the whole of Africa for a day. ‘Edna’s Song’ a moving song about what is often the longest relationship in one’s life- that with one’s mother is one of the highlights of the album.

The title track ‘Gathering Our Tribes’ redefines the way we think about tribal loyalties. Tribes, to Mignon, have no national or local boundaries but are about the way we think, the songs we sing and the way we react to injustice. As an old activist myself I found the lines ‘I tried to save the world and lost the flame inside of me’ in ‘You Reach Out’ particularly relevant, though I suspect the song is more about love than aging activists.

‘The Swing to the Right’ was written for a 1999 anti-racism rally but still maintains its relevance while ‘100 years IWD’ celebrates the centenary of International Women’s Day. The final track ‘Zenai Kiirtan’ is the only track not in English but possesses some of the best harmonies on the CD.

All in all ‘Gathering Our Tribes’ is an important addition to the folk musical lexicon. If the role of the folk singer is to ‘chronicle our times’ then Mignon’s first recording does just that. A CD worth adding to any collection.

Russell Hannah

Illawarra Folk Club

5 in stock (can be backordered)

SKU: TN1079-12 Category:

Additional information

Weight .200 kg
Dimensions 21 × 15 × 1 cm