various artists,
Women of Africa
(Putumayo, 2004)

Traditional music in Africa has always been connected with female chanting; no matter if they sang lullabies for their children or if they chanted while doing their daily labors, they expressed their joy by celebrating. Women of Africa is a brilliant collection of songs from all over the continent brought forward by some of its best female singers. We find artists from North Africa (Algeria, Senegal, Ivory Coast and Cameroon), Central Africa (Tanzania and Burundi) and South Africa (Isles of Comoros, Zimbabwe, Madagascar and South Africa). Some of them had been exiled for political reasons; others left the continent voluntarily and now dwell in Europe or the U.S.

The music is influenced by a wide range of styles, ethnic as well as musical. My favourite song here is "Bahia" by one of Africa's most famous singers, Angelique Kidjo; it's a terrific song that represents the Afro-Brazilian style. Senegal-born Maria de Barros sings "Mi Nada Um Ca Tem." De Barros' godmother is Cesaria Evora from Cape Verde, and her music is mainly inspired by the typical fusion of African and Portuguese influences. Kaissa Doumbe was born in Cameroon and has worked with several legendary artists like Manu Dibango and Papa Wemba. Thus she developed a very specific style, which you can hear on her song "To Ndje."

A stunning mixture of styles can be heard on "Hima" by Nawal. The music from her homeland, the Comoros Islands, reflects influences from Arabic, East African and Indian music. Burundi-born Khadja Nin lives now in France and is well known all over Europe for her excellent African pop. She sings an adaptation of Stevie Wonder's "Free," "Sina Mali, Sina Deni." The album ends with "Vimba," a song in the typical Zulu a cappella style Iscathamiya, brought forward by the Women of Mambazo.

The 12 songs on the CD show that African music has developed an outstanding variety of styles. The singers have worked in different musical genres from jazz to opera, from pop to hard rock, and they were inspired by different traditional styles from all over the world. I think if we're talking about modern African artists we're talking about real World Music.

review by
Adolf Goriup

22 September 2007

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