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Earliest known recording Problems playing this file? See media help. According to Library of Congress editor Stephen Winick, the song almost certainly originated among African Americans in the Southeastern United States, and had a Gullah version early in its history even if it did not originate in that dialect.
No precise month or day was recorded for either version, so either may be the earliest known version of the song. One was submitted as a high-school collecting project by a student named Minnie Lee to her teacher, Julian P. Boyd , later a professor of history at Princeton University and president of the American Historical Association.
This version, collected in Alliance, North Carolina, is a manuscript featuring lyrics but no music. Between and , Gordon recorded three more versions of traditional spirituals with the refrain "come by here" or "come by heah". One of these is a different song concerning the story of Daniel in the den of lions. Of the other two, one has been lost, and one cylinder was broken, so it cannot be determined if they are versions of "Kumbaya".
It first appeared in this version in Revival Choruses of Marvin V. Frey, a lyric sheet printed in that city in According to Frey, they brought back a partly translated version, and "Kum Ba Yah" was an African phrase from Angola specifically in Luvale. Although it is often said that the song originated in Gullah, Winick further points out that the Boyd manuscript, which may be the earliest version of the song, was probably not collected from a Gullah speaker. Saletan had learned it from Lynn Rohrbough, co-proprietor with his wife Katherine of the camp songbook publisher Cooperative Recreation Service, predecessor to World Around Songs.
Political usage Edit Beginning in the s and increasing in the following decades, references to "Kumbaya" or "singing Kumbaya" entered idiomatic usage in the politics of the United States , often to suggest that someone other than the speaker is too conciliatory or eager to compromise.
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