Based on my research, my roots aren’t very musical: I have a great-great-grandmother who sang opera and one distant cousin who played almost every instrument in existence, but that’s the extent of my family’s talent. AncestryDNA has teamed up with Spotify to create “Heritage Playlists: The Unique Sound of Your Ancestry” for their customers, and while it’s a silly marketing idea, I still had to give it a try. I selected my top five “Ethnicity Estimates”–Germanic Europe; Eastern Europe and Russia; England, Wales and Northwestern Europe; Baltic States; and Ireland and Scotland–and now have a playlist of twenty songs that reflect my “Musical DNA;” here’s my favorite track from each region.
Alice Merton’s “No Roots” is one of three songs I recognized on the playlist, and Merton says that the idea for the song “evolved from the fact that I get asked a lot where I feel my home is.” She continues, “I never really stayed in one place for very long, and I got to a point where I was feeling quite lost. So I decided to write a song that would make me feel better.” The Cook line of my family tree moved across the United States–from Iowa to Nebraska to South Dakota to Montana to Washington to California to New York–and the catchy beat of “No Roots” tells their story perfectly.
Eastern Europe and Russia
Fedor Andreevich Insarov–better known as Feduk–is a Moscow-born hip-hop artist who rose to fame after the release of his single “Розовое вино,” or “Rose Wine.” His new song “Моряк,” or “Sailor,” tells the story of a sailor and the woman he loves to a catchy disco beat, and the track made it onto my “Heritage Playlist.” Like “No Roots,” this song fits my family’s story perfectly: my great-grandfather was a sailor in the United States Navy during World War II, and he purchased a china teacup from each country in the Pacific Theater to bring home to his wife and to remind her of his love.
England, Wales, & Northwestern Europe
The Beattles are quintessentially British, and I can think of no better song to reflect my English ancestors than Paul McCartney’s “Hope of Deliverance.” There’s the Fuller family, who sailed to Plymouth Colony aboard the Mayflower; Nathaniel Merrill, who was among the first settlers of Newbury, Massachusetts; Thomas and Elizabeth Applegate, whose descendants in New Jersey and Kentucky number in the thousands; James Hawkins, who traveled with William Penn aboard the Welcome to Pennsylvania; and Samuel Wright, whose 5th great-grandsons are Wilbur and Orville Wright, to name a few.
Last month’s AncestryDNA update added a region I was not previously linked to: the “Baltic States,” including Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. The borders of the countries in Eastern Europe have changed again and again over the centuries, and although I haven’t found any ancestral connections to the Baltic States, it is entirely possible that a few long-ago ancestors are from the region. Proper Heat’s “Just a Little Bit” is an instrumental disco track that’s a great introduction to the sound of the Baltics–especially since this is a new region to my DNA results.
Ireland & Scotland
Foy Vance is my favorite artist, and “Guiding Light” is, without a doubt, one of his best songs. The odds of this song being on my “Heritage Playlist” have to be slim, and I cannot believe it was included. I’ll leave you with Vance’s lyrics: “Well the road is wide, and water run on either side. And my shadow went with fading light, stretching out towards the night. ‘Cause the sun is low, and I yet have still so far to go. My lonely heart is beating so, tired of the wonder. There’s a sign ahead, though I think it’s the same one again. But I’m thinking ’bout my only friend, and so I find my way home. ‘Cause when I need to get home, you’re my guiding light. You’re my guiding light.”