Harry Hmura, composer of “I Am, I Am”

Harry Hmura —musician-composer whose album “I Am, I Am” integrates original songs and instrumental pieces with the vocalizations of great apes—discusses his formative years as a musician, including a pivotal backstage meeting with B. B. King as a 15-year-old and becoming the guitarist in James Cotton’s touring band at 21. photo-originalHe recounts how a televised documentary spurred his interest in great apes and after attending a conference near his Chicago home, he visited Fauna Foundation, a chimp sanctuary in Montreal—playing guitar for some of the chimps–a visit that constituted a profound experience for him. Hmura explains howOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA he conceived and began executing “I Am, I Am,” including using digital recorders at various great ape sanctuaries to capture their vocalizations and other sounds, as well as having friends record other apes’ sounds in the wild. He describes creating the music for the project, in some cases writing songs in the same key as the animals’ natural vocal pitches, and fashioning a narrative arc over the course of the 13 tracks on “I Am, I Am.” Hmura addresses why it was important to him for the “I Am, I Am” CD to feature gorgeous artwork and packaging. The project benefits great ape sanctuaries around the world, sharing half of the CD and download proceeds. (www.iam-iamproject.com)

tumblr_nqrn6ql7fr1ti2yzto1_1280ALSO: I spoke briefly with writer-comedian Jim Tews, who created Felines of New York, a blog that serves as a wonderful cat-oriented parody of the noted website Humans of New York. Tews explains that in addition to writing all of the entries on the blog, he photographs all the cats, and that he will publish a Felines of New York book in November. (http://felinesofnewyork.com)

 

COMEDY CORNER: Mitch Hedberg’s “Smackie The Frog” (http://mitchhedberg.net)

MUSIC: Rebekah Pulley’s “Talking Animals Theme,” Harry Hmura’s “Morning Mist And Lil Miracles,” Harry Hmura’s “I Am, I Am,” instrumentals

NAME THAT ANIMAL TUNE: X’s “Hungry Wolf” (Get well soon, Billy Zoom. To help with the cost of his medical care and other expenses, donate to this GoFundMe: www.gofundme.com/yx66a4)

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About the author
Duncan Strauss is the producer-host of “Talking Animals,” which he launched at KUCI in California in 2003, combining his passions for animals, radio, journalism, music and comedy. The show has aired since late 2005 on Tampa’s WMNF. Strauss lives in Jupiter Farms, FL with his family, including four cats, two horses and one dog. He spends each day talking to those animals, and maintains they talk right back to him, an as yet unverified claim.

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