Joseph Emidy

Joseph Emidy ‘D’

So now I am a Cornish man and Truro is my home
dear wife and many children here, I hope no more to roam
my voyages weren’t voluntary and I curse the gaoler sea
but now my music’s found an ear, the world will hear from me
I’m Joseph Emidy, and you will hear from me
I’m Joseph Emidy, oh yes you will hear from me

I was born and raised in Guinea, ah but there I was enslaved
transported by the Portuguese, the transatlantic trade
Brazilian days brought nothing more than hunger, fear and toil
until the owner heard me play and plucked me from the soil

I’m Joseph Emidy, and he heard me.
I’m Joseph Emidy, oh yes he heard me.

I was sent for fiddle lessons and to learn I did begin
and before long I’d changed the kora for the violin
in 1790 we set sail to Lisbon, we did go
the orchestra there asked if I would rosin up my bow
I’m Joseph Emidy, and Lisbon noticed me,
I’m Joseph Emidy, oh yes Lisbon noticed me,

One evening at the opera was Admiral Pellew
heard and liked my playing with the officers of his crew
A man who loved his music but disdained men’s liberty
so he set the press gang on me and they took me off to sea
I’m Joseph Emidy and Lisbon missed me,
I’m Joseph Emidy oh yes Lisbon missed me.

G D/F# Em A7 D
For seven years in that floating gaol I never touched the quay
I ate my meals in solitude no man would mess with me
at dusk I’d take my fiddle up for hornpipes, jigs and reels
the officers would listen while the men kicked up their heels
I’m Joseph Emidy, and they would dance for me
I’m Joseph Emidy, oh yes they would dance for me

At Falmouth as the century turned I finally made land
and music loving Cornish folk began to lend a hand
I found a room and started teaching people how to play
it made me smile to see the gentry do as I would say

I’m Joseph Emidy, and they learned from me
I’m Joseph Emidy, oh yes they learned from me

I’ve lead the local orchestra in Plymouth and Truro
in work by Hayden and by Gluck, the music you all know
conducted my concerto in the town to great acclaim
London liked my music, but they held my skin to blame

I’m Joseph Emidy, London rejected me
I’m Joseph Emidy, oh yes they rejected me.

So lets sing of Emidy of flute and clarinet
of cello and piano, and whose skin was black as jet
who taught, conducted and composed, respected in his town
let’s revive his reputation and lets pass his memory down
Joseph Emidy, we’ll tell the world of thee
Joseph Emidy oh yes, we’ll tell the world of thee. x2

The introduction to the tune quotes from the North Eastern press gang song “Here’s the Tender Coming’

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