Americana Highways brings you this premiere of Sara Rachele’s version of the song “Michael Row the Boat Ashore” from her forthcoming album Scorpio Sun. The album was engineered and mixed by Spencer Garn at Diamond Street Studios, Little Five Points, ATL, GA. “Michael Row the Boat Ashore” is Sara Rachele on electric guitar and vocals.
Against the backdrop of pure production clarity, Sara Rachele showcases her exemplary vocal fragility in this latest offering.
Michael Row the Boat Ashore — This origins of this song are primarily attributed to the islands off South Carolina, prior to the abolition movement. While Pete Seeger arranged a popular version and performed it often, it had already been passed down for generations orally and reworked by educators in the 1950s. This song is deeply tied to the abolitionist movement and social change. This was one of the first melodies I remember from childhood, in Montessori school, and when it was taught to me, I remember the sense of deep sorrow and wistfulness. This song is one of my first experiences with music and real pain. It is a stirring and troubling song.
My little nephew, an American-Italian who is being raised in Zurich, Switzerland, his first name is Michael, and I knew I had to record this for him. Folk music lives on generationally. While maybe in some ways an odd choice for a popular children’s song, all music deals with life and death in some way, and teaches us about it. The image of this angel Michael taking souls on to heaven, mesopotamian beliefs, the river styx, this ferrying on to a better life, it explained the concept of faith to me. Belief, that in the end, after all this work, there is a better life on the other side — Sara Rachele