UTILITY: Once Upon A Time…

By Jo Phillips

“Once Upon A Time…”

If you’re unfamiliar with this opening line, immediately reprimand your parents, because these four words are a popular opening for traditional Folktales. Folktales derive from Folklores, an oral tale to be told for all.  They are traditional beliefs, legends, oral histories; the list is endless. It can be the root of many cultural genres of music, from country to blues and bluegrass, all originating from American folklore. This art of storytelling is culturally universal, able to unite the young and old, the rich and poor, both common and complex societies alike.

hansel and gretel1

Many forms of Folklore seamlessly blend into our everyday lives, occurring so commonly that people don’t regard them as such, from ghost stories, riddles and rumours, to conspiracy theories and ethnic stereotypes. Set in a dreamtime, apart from but closely intertwined with ordinary reality, every folktale has a moral. One familiar story offering an example of this enthralling moral instruction is the Brothers Grimm 1812 Hansel and Gretel, a cautionary German tale of mundane instruction, regarding forest dangers.


Another popular folklore originates countries away, in the former territories of the Mughal Empire. The forbidden love story of crown Prince Jahangir and legendary slave girl Anarkali is a fairytale that dared to defy all life’s antagonisms, be it parental, social or royal.

cameron blake

Unwritten Folklores can also naturally initiate social change and a redirection of your moral compass alongside musical accompaniment. One artist doing this is Cameron Blake, drawing influence from Leonard Cohen, he says, “we so often forget that news is simply stories about people”.  He describes his earnest necessity to “tell human stories in an empathetic way”, all the while maintaining his music’s simplicity and allowing each word to speak into the ears of listeners.

Individuals with a voice are a means of survival for Folklores, and Cameron Blake is undeniably one voice awake in a world of slumber, “there’s certainly a lot of injustice out there and art is such a natural way to initiate social change. Music can soften a punch in a way that a politician or a newspaper can’t because it makes you think less with your brain and more with your heart.”

Listen to .Cents collection of diverse tunes reviving the essence of “Folklore”


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