Released on November 1, 2019
"Woyaya" is a collaboration between noted songwriters Anaïs Mitchell (Hadestown) and Kate Stables (leader of This Is The Kit). Optimistic and rhythmically complex, it is a cover of a song originally released by Ghanaian Afro-pop band Osibisa in 1971 on their Tony Visconti-produced album.
Later covered by everyone from Art Garfunkel on his debut solo album to family-friendly English comedian Russ Abbot, Mitchell knew of it from a different route. Says Anaïs: "I learned 'Woyaya' as a folksong growing up in Vermont, but had never actually heard the Osibisa/Garfunkel recordings until we decided to work it up. I love the clear-eyed hopefulness of the words, and how the music itself feels like a walking journey."
This single release is timed to coincide with the triumphant Broadway run of Mitchell's Hadestown musical — which was nominated for 14 Tony Awards and won 8 in the 2019 ceremony — more than any other show and including a top award for Best Musical.
Rounding out this three-way collaboration is producer/musician Josh Kaufman (Bob Weir's Blue Mountain; the RedHot compilation of Grateful Dead cover songs & interpretations Day of the Dead). Josh adds: "I heard the Osibisa version of this song through Kate and was really moved to echo its shape with her and Anaïs. The song is yearning and full of forward motion. The chords move frequently and gently and the melody has such a natural hook to it. We built in some new arrangement ideas by adding our friends' kids voices to the hopeful outro chant and made it into this multi-generational call and response."
Additional performers on the track include Ray Rizzo on drums, Stuart Bogie on woodwinds & a bunch of friends' kids who contribute a subtle children's chorus.