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New release: Joyful and haunting gospel songs from Vanuatu

Wantok has just released a very special record: Ol Sing Blong Plantensen (Plantation Songs).

This release sheds light on the tradition of Salvesen, a song and dance form that emerged from years of South Sea Islanders' indentured labor in the cane fields of Queensland from the 1860s to the turn of the century. Salvesen, which is still performed today in the central islands of Vanuatu, combines African American spirituals and gospel hymns with a Vanuatu customary circular dance.

Accompanied by a limited edition, extensively researched and richly illustrated book documenting the history of the music, Ol Sing Blong Plantesen is a testimony to the South Sea Islanders' capacity for turning sorrow into a lasting expression of joy. Hear the music and buy the book here.

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