Lingua Franca: 1999-2001. Where Are They Now?

From 1999-2001, I sang with a wonderful quartet of like-minded musicians who loved close harmony and travel as much as I did. The only problem with a world music group, of course, is that they all go off to see the world, and so we parted ways as a quartet, contenting ourselves with the occasional harmonic convergence at a folk festival or a party.

Lingua Franca was founded by Liz Lewis and Ed Softky, who performed with Alan Field as the a cappella trio Lewis, Softky & Field. Lynn Noel became the "fourth volume of the trilogy" in January 1999. Lingua Franca were featured in the Folk Song Society of Greater Boston's May 2000 production of "Bound For Glory: The Words and Music of Woody Guthrie." The quartet performed at NEFFA, NOMAD, local festivals, senior centers, and anywhere else they received the slightest encouragement to sing.

Lingua Franca is not currently performing as a quartet. Liz Lewis sings with the women's a cappella sextet Constellations. Lynn Noel performs solo and with several groups: see  Alan Field spends most of his time on Macintosh computers in KwaZulu_Natal, South Africa with Donna Wainwright, leading the fifth year of their South Africa Township Schools Project with Computers for Africa.

Ed Softky passed away in 2008 in Brattleboro. He had recently returned from three years in northern India, becoming fluent in Tibetan on sabbatical sojourns to Buddhist retreat centers in Dharamsala.

Who Were They Then? (from the Lingua Franca webpage)

Lingua Franca is an a cappella world music quartet whose name stands for "music as the common tongue." Quartet members have collectively visited 23 countries, all 12 Canadian provinces and territories, and (we think) all 50 states, and speak over a dozen languages. Powerful harmonies blend in a joyful and infectious celebration of music, the universal language.

Our popular set GLOBAL HARMONIES begins with freedom songs from South Africa, where bass Alan Field works with local communities to install Macintosh computers in classrooms while touring with the international chorus Sharing a New Song. Mediterranean harmonies then move to the Balkans, Italy and Spain, where alto Liz Lewis spent her junior year abroad. Lingua Franca crosses the Channel with chanteys from the Netherlands and Britain, to England where tenor Ed Softky and soprano Lynn Noel have collected pub songs and sea music as morris dancers. Sailing out across the North Atlantic, we return to North America with French-Canadian voyageur songs and Ojibwa chants from Lynn's decade of work with the Canadian Park Service, and sacred harp and Appalachian hymns from Ed and Liz's roots in American popular music. South of the border, the set celebrates Latin rhythms with traditional and new music from Latin America, where Liz works in international health care.