“Sikiliza Kwa Wahenga” by Michael Abels

Submitted by Stuart Ronkainen

I loved the movie Get Out, in part because of its excellent score, particularly the extremely eerie theme “Sikiliza Kwa Wahenga”. In this track, the Swahili lyrics loosely translate to “Brother, listen to the ancestors. Run! You need to run far! (Listen to the truth) Save yourself! Run! Run!” The composer, Michael Abels, has described the style as “gospel horror”, something he and director Jordan Peele describe as recognizably black but lacking any of the hopefulness of traditional African-American music.

Michael Abels is best-known for his scores for the Oscar-winning film Get Out, and for Jordan Peele’s US, for which Abels won the World Soundtrack Award, the Jerry Goldsmith Award, a Critics Choice nomination, an Image Award nomination, and multiple critics awards. Abels is co-founder of the Composers Diversity Collective, an advocacy group to increase visibility of composers of color in film, game and streaming media. Upcoming projects include the ballet for concert band FALLING SKY for Butler University, AT WAR WITH OURSELVES for the Kronos Quartet, and the Hugh Jackman film Bad Education for HBO.