“Last Woman On Earth”
About the show
The premise of the show is Sara traveling the world in search of jobs that are endangered. She learns to do each job so that she will survive as the last woman on earth. She goes to the Republic of Georgia where she learns to drive a soviet train, patrol the border, and give a body scrub in the thermal baths.
Sara Pascoe meets polyphonic singing in Svaneti
Sara also travels to the high mountain region of Svaneti and meets the Pilpani family. Songmaster Vakho teaches her a song.
“(Georgian singing) is a job that requires several very talented people, but it’s rooted in patriarchy, and a strict orthodox religion, so it’s not so appealing to the next generation of modern Georgians, and very few people can still do it.” – S.P
Some of our Georgian singing friends in the UK were confused by this statement. Because they, like us, have met so many talented Georgian singers and teachers over the years. Georgians who are passionate about sharing their country’s folklore. But it is true that not everyone in Georgia is so familiar with polyphonic singing, and we might have a bit of a skewed view!
We did see singers of the next generation in the program though, and they were Vakho’s children. His daughter Eka did a great job looking out for Sara when they performed together.
In fact, we are happy to know many wonderful young performers of Georgian folk music. Like the new generation of Amer-Imeri, a children’s choir based in Tbilisi. Magda Kevilishvili is leading the ensemble and was a member herself as a child! You can hear all about Amer-Imeri on the podcast in Christmas and New Year with Magda Kevlishvili. (Series 1, episode 6)
Singing as a bridge
Although all the other jobs were about to go extinct, Sara realised that the polyphonic singers act as a bridge between the new thriving tourism economy, and Georgia’s folk history.
When we ask our podcast guests ‘What does Voices of the Ancestors mean to you?’ Many of them use the word bridge. In episode 6, Magda said
‘So it means that we are like a bridge, that connects us from the nowadays to the past time’.
If you have travelled in Georgia, you may have (many) warm memories from sitting around a feasting table, for a ‘supra’. The shared food, toasts and songs are a memorable experience. Sara was clearly moved by the singing of the men around the table.
Being surrounded by booming male voices can be quite a powerful experience. Some viewers may have been left wondering …..
‘but, where are the women singers in Georgia?!’
Know that you are not alone. We can assure you there are many badass Georgian women raising their voices in polyphonic harmony. You might just have to look a bit further than the BBC.
Voices of the Ancestors podcast is specifically focused on Georgian polyphonic songs and the women who sing them.
5 star Apple Podcast Review
- Fascinating & beautiful podcast This is such an interesting podcast, featuring beautiful voices, stories and songs from Georgia. Full of emotion, heart and wonderful music. I had no knowledge of this topic before listening, but love hearing from the people, teachers and singers of these traditional songs – a hidden gem of the world. bee_franz 12.12.2020