Meadowlands was recorded during the June, 2009 performance by the Dysfunctional Family Jazz Band (DFJB) at New York’s celebrated music venue, the Rodeo Bar. The band included Patty Carpenter and Melissa Shetler on vocals, Scott Shetler on pennywhistles, Tony Garnier on bass, Paul Sullivan on guitar, and Russ Meissner on drums.
Melissa first came across this song from the soundtrack to “Amandla! A Revolution in Four Part Harmony.” She was immediately captivated by the harmonies of Nancy Jacobs and her Sisters. While in Lesotho, Africa working on a project in Theatre for Development she brought this song hoping it might have a place in the play. As fate would have it, the students from Wits University in Joburg had chosen this same song to sing at the opening day of the Institute.
The song was written in 1956 by Strike Vilakazi as a commentary on the forced removal of residents of Sophiatown to a newly created township “Meadowlands.” The song is sung in three languages and relying on a direct, unannotated translation, the government believed the song supported their removals program. Black record buyers, however, thought the opposite, and Meadowlands became a protest anthem against the Sophiatown removals.