The track, entitled "Baba Yetu," was written by classical composer Christopher Tin for Firaxis Games. The piece is the opening/menu song for the turn-based strategy game Sid Meier's Civilization IV. The game's lead developer, Soren Johnson, asked Tin--his old Stanford roommate--to come up with a theme song for the game in 2005.
The piece features a Swahili adaptation of the Lord's Prayer and was originally performed by Stanford's a capella group, Stanford Talisman. The song has been nominated for a Grammy Award in the category "Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocalists."
And yes, it is the first video game theme to be nominated for a Grammy.
The song also appears on Tin's classical world fusion crossover album "Calling All Dawns," in which it is sung by the Soweto Gospel Choir. Calling All Dawns has also been nominated for a Grammy in the "Best Classical Crossover Album" category.
"Baba Yetu" has been a fan favorite for many years, and has appeared in the Video Games Live concert since 2006. Video Games Live is an immersive concert that features the best music (along with synchronized video clips and light shows) from popular video games, including Mario, Zelda, Sonic the Hedgehog, and Final Fantasy, all the way to Gears of War and Need for Speed: Undercover.
"The fact that this song has had a life outside of the game is owed almost entirely to Video Games Live," Tin says, "They were the first to bring this music to concert stages around the world and to places I had never dreamed possible."
Tin has composed music for a number of other video games, including Pirates of the Caribbean Online, Pocket God, World of Cars Online, and Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer. He's also composed music for movies (including X2: X-Men United and Lilo and Stitch 2), and has worked with major tech companies such as Microsoft, Nokia, Verizon, and Apple.
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