Calabash! chats to Batch Gueye the Bristol-based Senegalese singer, musician, dancer and storyteller about the challenges of 2020 and what we can learn from his music.
STAR FEMININE BAND
Star Feminine Band are an extraordinary group from Natitingou, a remote town in the north of Benin. The 7 members are aged between 10 and 17 years old, and the only all girl band in Benin.
Their sound is a garage rock style mix of afrobeat,congolese rumba and traditional Beninese rhythm dances. The girls’ harmonies may sound youthful but their songs are raising awareness about equality and empowerment for African women to a curious growing audience.
Thousands of concerts have been cancelled worldwide due to COVID-19. Hundreds of musicians from the African continent have lost their main income from international concert tours. It is uncertain by when musicians will be able to travel and tour again. Please, join #SOULIDARITY and donate. With your contribution you directly support musicians from the African continent.
Sidi Touré (Mali) – Afrik Toun Mé.
Full of lively acoustic Malian melodies and blues guitar riffs that radiate perpetual positive energy as Touré’s emotive voice sings about courage against adversity and urges people to embrace knowledge as a tool to unite Africa.
Touré has created a dazzling album of real optimism.
Ethiopia Records, innovators of ther Ethiopiyawi electronic music scene has launched a fundraiser due to the COVID pandemic putting in jeopardy the future of the label and its staff based in Addis Ababa.
The fundraiser is for a 10 track double EP called Wel (ወል) with 2 videos and an array of works of art to be released in November 2020.
Supporters of the Wel project can receive various goodies including a pre-order copy of the EP to a private virtual tour and interactive music lessons
An acoustic version of the 2017 album ‘Mogoya’ will be released by Nø Førmat digitally on June 19, 2020, with physical formats available from August 28, 2020.
The album simply named ‘Acoustic’ is a totally unplugged ‘live’ studio recording with the same members who played with Oumou at the London EartH show in April 2019 that celebrated the 15th anniversary of her label Nø Førmat.
You can view the album trailer here.
Africadelic the annual event in Amsterdam that celebrates International Africa day has organised a 12-hour live streaming event on 25 May
With over 15 confirmed artists so far including ONIPA, Blick Bassy, and Pat Thomas & Kwashibu Area Band, it promises to be an enthralling day of performances and lively debates. There is also 2 days of contemporary African cinema available on demand too.
NOT TO BE MISSED!
Full details of how to watch here
There is much to admire in this unique album.
The Nyatiti – an eight-stringed lyre, originating from communities around the shores of Lake Victoria, Kenya.
A story of an African village boy transitioning to a man with all its anxiousness.
The preserving of traditional Lüo sounds whilst interpreting them for the modern world.
Tamikrest return with a vivid, irrepressible rock and roll statement. Their most powerful album since 2013’s wildly acclaimed Chatma, Tamotaït finds the band not only turning up the volume, but also sharpening their ruminations on the state of the Sahara and the world beyond. Features acclaimed Moroccan singer Hindi Zahra and Japanese traditional musicians.
The UK’s first annual African cultural festival is set to be held in the West Midlands this summer. Described as a “party for all things Africa”, Ubuntu Pride will celebrate African culture through traditional music, arts, dance and food.
It is expected to take place outdoors in Coventry on August the 1st and 2nd, with final confirmations due to be held in the coming months.
Tamikrest, the Tuareg (kel tamasheq) desert blues band from the Sahel region embark on a huge European tour and play in the UK at Rich Mix, London on Saturday 23rd May 2020.
Their latest album Tamotait meaning ‘hope for a positive change’ which reflects the turbulent political times in northern Mali and the surrounding area, will be released on 27th March 2020.
It’s been an exceptionally busy year, we went to over 30 gigs, and in our New Music page, there are over 70 album releases listed.
With some absolutely sublime sounds from all over Africa and beyond, it was quite a task in deciding the top 10.
So here’s our pick of 2019.
Not listed in any particular preference – except for top spot.
A collection of artists that inspired, releases that enthralled and live performances that wowed us.
Thank you, Africa!
Haymanot Tesfa is a singer and krar (traditional lyre) player from Ethiopia, now living in the UK.
Loosening the Strings is her solo debut album, and is a collection of Ethiopian traditional songs and her own arrangements all sung in the distinctive Amharic language.
Throughout the album, Haymanot’s fingers flow through the six-stringed krar with nimble dexterity. The unfaltering plucked soft tones provide a foundation for Haymanot’s powerful and captivating voice. Using only
the krar and a drum it’s a bold debut. Yet, it doesn’t need anything else, as it’s simply beautiful.
The second release from Invisible System aka Dan Harper’s Malian project.
Dance to the Full Moon is the sequel to the instrumental Bamako Sessions album from 2018.
Delving deep into Mali’s traditional musical roots, griot, ngoni, kora, and Songhoy guitar are accentuated with the interfusion of dub, post-punk, techno, and R&B.
A more fulfilling album than its predecessor and with Dan Harper’s guidance and production finesse, has created a triumph of equilibrium.
Crisscrossing genres but keeping Mali at its heart and soul
London Afrobeat Collective’s latest album release Humans, unleashes the full force of their funky energetic afrobeat.
Full of musical gutsiness, with the fervor of their exhilarating live performances, the LAC sound is evolving beyond the sphere of Afrobeat.
An album striving for social justice has never sounded this good
++This event has been cancelled++
A unique festival experience is coming to London this November, it will showcase a feast of talent through art, music, fashion, and food from Egypt, in a vibrant and fun-filled way.
The first ever Egyptian festival in Europe, the programme promises to be an extravaganza of discovery into contemporary Egypt and for the Egyptian community to come together and celebrate their culture and heritage.
The Egyptian Cultural Festival is on the 9th and 10th of November
On tour, this coming Autumn are Rafiki Jazz.
A 9 piece global collective, spanning from Africa, India, the Middle East, South America and Europe.
Their ‘Closeup’ live shows are powerful and absorbing, capturing the imagination of distant lands, that reflect the band’s multiple faith, language and culture.
Rafiki Jazz will be playing songs from their latest album ‘Saraba Sufiyana’ (Mystic Utopia) available this October.
Expect beautiful voices, with the unity and diversity of modern world music, which journeys into migration, history and heritage.
If there was a TV series called ‘extreme homemade musical instruments’ KOKOKO! would be the hosts and Fongola would be the soundtrack.
Experimenting with engine parts to typewriters, the DR Congelese DIY’ers invent and build their own percussion and stringed instruments.
Flirting between, post-punk and electronic, the intoxicating and hypnotic grooves are blisteringly danceable.
KOKOKO! are currently on a world tour and are playing Fabric, London on November 28th
Known as the Malawian one-man band, Faith Mussa’s latest album is full of bright African guitars and soulful harmonies, whilst it slickly genre hops by blending modern beats and arrangements with traditional rhythms and instruments.
It’s an irresistibly catchy and classy production, with three years in the making and collaborating with various artists, it firms up Faith Mussa as a rising star on the international music scene.
To celebrate Namibia’s 30th year of Independence, SOAS Music is hosting a unique exhibition in the Brunei Gallery, SOAS, London.
Chronicling the intimate stories, songs and experiences of those who shaped Namibian popular culture during some of the most repressive years of Apartheid rule.
A fascinating insight shown through video projection that revisits the dance styles of the 1950s-80s. Listening stations featuring Namibia’s music legends.
Interviews with musicians and contemporary witnesses.
An extensive collection of photographs, record covers and music memorabilia.
It’s a massive privilege to have such a talent as Kadialy Kouyate based here in the UK.
The Senegalese kora virtuoso/singer hails from the line of Kouyate griots
and If you have ever seen him perform you will have been
bedazzled by the splendour of his kora mastery.
His latest repertoire is full of beautiful positive melodies, and you will feel your soul being gently nourished as the enchanting compositions unfold.
Ghanaian Isaac Birituro’s masterful xylophone style is explored by UK’s singer-songwriter Sonny Johns.
Lively West African beats, folky guitar and jazzy brass hues, harmonized with the uplifting Kalba Birifore Choir.
Recorded in Isaac’s hometown Kalba – the album title, a church became a makeshift mobile studio.
An intriguing story of different worlds embracing, it captures a genuinely warm-hearted community spirit.
In the 1960s, a group of Malian musicians travelled to Havana to study music.
The Maravillas de Mali band was formed and the groundbreaking
Afro-Cuban fusion style was born.
50 years on, Boncana Maïga the only remaining member has recaptured that revolutionary spirit by rejuvenating Africa Mia, the bands only album.
Featuring superstar Mory Kanté from Guinea.
Zimbabwean born multi instrumentalist, dancer and actress, Anna Mudeka, brings her tour de force show, Kure Kure/ Faraway across the UK over summer and autumn 2019.
The one-woman theatre show includes traditional and contemporary music, projected visuals, soothing song, energetic dance and spoken word.
A magnitude of free jazz, spiritual rants, raps and chants delivered with rock ’n’ roll fervency.
The 7 piece band from Soweto, South Africa inspired by indigenous music conjure extended trance-like songs, radiating positive energy as it challenges musical formats and simultaneously the harsh realities of African life.
Intrinsically deep-rooted with African dance sounds and styles, Kongo Dia Ntotila’s second release 360°is a profusion of adept musicianship.
Congolese guitar and energetic rhythms blend fluently with jazzy horns and bass lines inspired by the buoyant UK Jazz scene.
The listener is joyfully seesawed between Kinshasa and London.
It’s inventive, original and massively catchy. A feel-good fun ride from start to finish.
Fusing the rhythms and invocations of the ancient Saharan Banga ritual with an electrical storm of contemporary sonics, Ifriqiyya Electrique’s second album both grips and awakens. In Tunisian, Banga means “huge volume” and one cannot think of a more apt description of Laylet el Booree than that. Maximalist & relentless. Blood, sweat & trance.
Afro-pop sensation Dobet Gnahore returns in April with her beautiful voice and acrobatic dance stage show. The Grammy award winner will be performing her latest album Miziki. Friday, April 12th – St George’s, Bristol.https://www.stgeorgesbristol.co.uk/event/dobet-gnahore/ Saturday, April 13th – Ropetackle Arts Centre, Shoreham.https://ropetacklecentre.co.uk/events/african-night-fever-presents-dobet-gnahore/ Sunday, April 14th – The Gulbenkian, Canterbury.https://thegulbenkian.co.uk/event/dobet-gnahore/
Formed in a refugee camp in the ’90s, the female-fronted band toured the Tuareg sound around the world. Their first album for more than a decade is nostalgic, with aspirations of peace and unity. Release Date: 25 January 2019Record label: Riverboat Records. Genre: Desert Blues, Folk Tuareg. Country: Mali.
Moulay Ahmed Hassani – Atlas Electric. Hive Mind Records. “Ahmed’s trademark – an awesome sounding psychedelic deep reverberating microtonal guitar!” From the foot of the Atlas Mountains in Morocco, singer, songwriter and musician Moulay Ahmed Hassani has self produced more than an incredible 50 albums over 30 years in his home studio in …
Desert Blues Bands Tamikrest and Terakraft refused entry to UK Three weeks ago I attended Africa on the Square festival. This free annual event is organised by the Mayor of London and this year featured musicians from Togo, The Gambia, Zambia, and the UK. There was also a fashion show, a parade and dancers celebrating …
The third international release from Niger’s biggest band blasts West African rhythmic guitar, desert blues, afrobeat grooves, and a constant often off beat crashing snare drum. The vocals occasionally border on screaming to be heard over the intense hypnotic sound and when you think it can’t get any faster ‘Belles Reines’ does just that, dense …
World Music? What’s that? Well, how did I get here? Early ’80s Talking Heads were a unique group, new wave and funk intertwined with rhythms and sounds that were ‘foreign’ – unknowingly for most an introduction to Afrobeat. Angelique Kidjo’s version is naturally more African, it’s also more Afrobeat with plenty of horns.Whilst always keeping …
African artists refused visas to perform in the UK Following the disappointing news that some artists couldn’t get visa to perform in the UK, here’s an article discussing this, https://www.theguardian.com/global/2018/aug/02/womad-visa-fiasco-brexit-britain-live-music-festival?CMP=Share_AndroidApp_Gmails
After the first listen, the album felt like I’ve owned it for years. Honest blues and reliably Malian. Samba Touré is in a mellow mood.(mostly) Full of spacious cool blues riffs and crisp rock ‘n’ roll rhythm guitar, whilst at the same time the talking drum and Soku fiddle keeping the sound back on African …
Toubalbero is a huge upgrade from Sidi Tourés Songhoy folk blues album 5 years ago. Sidi Touré is now electro-acoustic, alongside up and coming adept musicians, Djadjé Traoré on electric guitar, and Mamadou “Mandou” Kone who also tours with Vieux Farka Toure is on drums. On the Ngoni, Ousmane “Papou” Dagnon is really impressive , the traditional …