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World music matters

RFI France

World Music Matters is RFI's weekly rendez vous with musicians making global beats.

World Music Matters is RFI's weekly rendez vous with musicians making global beats.
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RFI France


World Music Matters is RFI's weekly rendez vous with musicians making global beats.




Sudan's forgotten musical heritage revived with violins and synths

Hugely popular across the African continent in the 70s and 80s, the music of Khartoum was almost extinguished in 1989 when the hard-line religious government took over. Now that rich musical heritage is available on a new compilation - Two Niles to Sing a Melody: The Violins & Synths of Sudan. Its producer, music collector Vik Sohonie, tells RFI about the golden age when singers like Mohamed Wardi packed out a 60,000-seat stadium in French-speaking Yaoundé. The 16-song compilation features...


Soweto's BCUC: psychosomatic flows grow on you

BCUC aka Bantu Continua Uhuru Consciousness from Soweto in South Africa have an explosive live sound they've called Africa Ngungungu. They initially struggled to find a public for their 20 minute long trance-inducing songs but now with two albums recorded and produced in France, their high energy cocktail of tradtional percussion and hip hop is packing concert halls. RFI met three of the band members before a sell-out concert at Jazz à la Villette festival in Paris. BCUC formed in 2003 in...


Mali's Fatoumata Diawara has a lot to say

Seven years after her acclaimed debut album Fatou, the Malian singer songwriter and actress Fatoumata Diawara has released Fenfo meaning "something to say" in her native Bambara language. The Paris-based star talks to RFI about taking pride in African heritage, sexuality and why it was time to forgive her parents for the past. "Fatou was about introducing myself, telling people who I am," Diawara told RFI. "Fenfo is telling people what I've become." For a start she's become a mother and is...


Cape Verdean Carmen Souza and the Creole connection

Singer Carmen Souza was born to Cape Verdean parents in Portugal. Her latest album Creology mixes the Creole language and rhythms she learned at home with the jazz she's learned to love in Europe. She talks to RFI about conveying the joy of Creole culture and having fun imitating instruments with her unusual, beguiling voice. Creology is Souza's eighth album and was co-written with her mentor and longtime musical partner Portuguese bass player Theo Pascal. They’ve worked together since her...


Susheela Raman: making Ghost Gamelan 'like sculpting metal'

Susheela Raman releases her seventh album Ghost Gamalan. The songs were written in the UK but a fortuitous meeting with gamalan musicians while on holiday in Indonesia transformed the project. Raman and guitarist/producer Sam Mills talk to RFI about the funny things gongs do to your brain and getting under the bonnet and tinkering around with all of that new sound. Travel has long been a source of inspiration for Susheela Raman, an Anglo-Indian singer-songwriter raised in Australia. "Sam...


South Africa's Laurinda Hofmeyr sets francophone African poets to music

After setting the poetry of Afrikaans writers like Breyten Breytenbach to music to great acclaim, South African singer and composer Laurinda Hofmeyr has turned her talents to poets from French-speaking Africa. Backed up by Congolese vocalists from Cape Town, she talks to RFI about the Afrique Mon Désir (the longing for Africa) project and recently-released album. The album brings to life the pain, visions, and longing of some of the most respected francophone and Afrikaans poets. Pride of...


South Africa's Sam Tshabalala releases Back and Forth

Singer-songwriter and guitarist Sam Tshabalala is a former member of the Malopoets - a leading South African anti-apartheid band in the 70s and 80s. After close to three decades living in exile here in France he recently returned to his native South Africa to record Back and Forth with other ex-Malopoets and musicians from the younger generation. He talks to RFI about going back to his roots. Tshabalala's journey started at home, in South Africa, with the Malopoets, the first black group...


Dafné Kritharas sings 'jewels of the Aegean'

Our guest in this week's edition of World Music Matters is young Franco-Greek singer Dafné Kritharas. Definitely one to watch, she talks to RFI about her new album Djoyas de Mar, a captivating reinterpretation of Greek rebetiko and Jewish-Spanish songs written in the 1920s and 30s. Songs of love ... and exile. Djoyas de Mar means jewels of the sea and these particular gems are Greek and Jewish-Spanish songs of the Aegean. It was here, in the 1920s and 30s, that a form of Greek blues known...


Etenesh Wassié: the blueswoman and 'hurricaine' from Addis

Ethiopian vocalist Etenesh Wassié began her career in Addis aged just 15 singing in traditional music venues known as Azmari Bet. She's now building a successful career in Europe singing azmari songs and working, notably, with French musicians. Her second album Yene Alem is out in June. Wassié was introduced to European audiences thanks to Francis Falceto, producer of the influential Ethiopiques compilations of Ethiopian music. "I met her in the 90s after the end of the revolution when the...


Yiddish Glory album breathes new life into lost Soviet Jewish WWII songs

As war raged through Europe, a group of Soviet Yiddish scholars began recording stories, poems and songs by Jewish men, women and children living - and dying - in Nazi-occupied Soviet Union. Never published, they were rediscovered in Kiev in the late 90s. Now these moving, stirring and sometimes slapstick songs have been brought to life through an international recording project. The 18 songs on Yiddish Glory: The Lost Songs of World War II have not been heard for over 70 years. "Every...


Lekhfa: alternative music for Egypt's connected generation

Maryam Saleh, Tamer Abu Ghazaleh and Maurice Louca are established solo artists on the alternative Arabic music scene. Together as Lekhfa they draw on Egyptian shaabi, pop and psychedelia to produce an off-kilter sound. Their new, eponymous album uses the edgy dystopian poetry of their contemporary Mido Zoheir to remarkable effect. "The name [Lekhfa] literally means 'to make something invisible'," Tamer Abu Ghazaleh, the band's vocalist and composer, told RFI. "It was more of a joke at...


Senegal's Alune Wade serves up classy African Fast Food

Senegalese bass player, composer and singer Alune Wade began his professional musical career as guitarist to Ismael Lo. He's played alongside big names like Youssou Ndour, Cheick Tidiane Seck, Oumou Sangare, Blick Bassy, Joe Zawinul... The jazz-inspired African Fast Food is his latest, and third, solo project: a huge canvas which includes tributes to both Miles Davis and a religious leader of the Mourid Brotherhood. Alune Wade's father was an officer in the Senegalese army and conducted a...


British bard L.A. Salami muses on terrorism, Brexit and the lost generation

Our guest on this week's edition of World Music Matters is British singer-songwriter and storyteller L.A. Salami. As he embarks on a European tour with his latest album The City of Bootmakers he talks to RFI about unpicking the "Isis crisis" and why Bob Dylan still rocks. London singer-songwriter Lookman Adekunle Salami is of Nigerian descent but his musical roots are firmly Anglophone and mainly from the 60s and 70s. "For me it's the most ambitious period of music.. stuff in the charts...


Aehem Ahmad: the Pianist of Yarmouk finds keys to friendship

Syrian-Palestinian pianist Aeham Ahmad became known after videos of him playing piano on the bombed out streets of his neighbourhood of Yarmouk near Damascus were posted on Youtube in 2013. Now a refugee in Germany he's released an album Keys to Friendship with German jazz pianist Edgar Knecht. He talks to RFI about how music became his passport to freedom. Born in 1988 to Palestinian parents, Aeham Ahmed grew up in Yarmouk, a camp set up by the Syrian government in 1954 for Palestinian...


Nakhane: the South African songbird soaring high

South African singer-songwriter and actor Nakhane burst onto the European scene in December 2017 at the TransMusicales festival in the French town of Rennes where he was given carte blanche five nights in a row. The LGBTQ trailblazer with the heavenly voice seems set for stardom. He talks to RFI about starring in the award-winning but controversial film The Wound and "queering" religion on his new album You will not die. "The song You will not die is about abandonement," says Nakhane,...


Cote d'Ivoire's 'rebel' Dobet Gnahoré

Ivorian singer-songwriter, dancer and percussionist Dobet Gnahoré talks to RFI about her upcoming album Miziki. Sung mainly in her native Bété language she explores her vision of pan-Africanism with strong, rebellious women at its heart. Produced by Nicolas Repac, Gnahoré brings her love of electronic music to the fore. Gnahoré is a ball of fire on stage: a vocal powerhouse and accomplished dancer who can jump, twist and turn while never missing a beat. Since 2004 she’s given more than 800...


Rapper and sorcerer-poet, Baloji, works his magic on new album

Belgian rapper Baloji's fourth album 137 Avenue Kaniama references an address in Lubumbashi, DRC, close to where he was born nearly 40 years ago. He talks to RFI about exploring the A and B sides of his "Afropean" identity through a kaleidoscope of sounds from rap to electro, hip hop to opera and a host of African rhythms. As a singer Baloji started off in a rap oufit Les Malfrats Linguistiques (The Linguistic Hustlers) which later morphed into Starflam, one of Belgium's most successful...


Folk duo Ÿuma bring love and poetry to Tunisia's young generation

Ÿuma are an alternative folk duo from Tunisia. One of the rare bands to sing in Tunisian dialect, they've just released their second album Poussière d'Etoiles. They talk to RFI about breathing new life into a music scene dominated by rap and hip hop, and explain why their songs are so popular with a young generation in dire need of love and affection. Vocalist Sabrine Jenhani and guitarist Rami Zoghlemi formed Ÿuma in December 2015. They quickly built up a fan base online through mashups...


Bai Kamara Jr and Sierra Leone's 'mystical survivors'

Bai Kamara Jr is a singer-songwriter from Sierra Leone. As his country peacefully goes to the polls, the Brussels-based musician, who's lent his voice to Amnesty International and Unicef, talks to RFI about reasons to feel proud of his homeland and why he chose a musical path rather than following his family into politics. On his latest, fifth, album The Mystical Survivors and Some Rare Earthlings Vol 1 Bai brings a 70s vibe to his repertoire of protest and love songs. "I had done other...


Nigeria's Seun Kuti hails 'black time'

Nigerian singer and saxophonist Seun Kuti, the youngest son of the late Afrobeat legend Fela Kuti, inherited both his father's band Egypt 80 and his political fight in support of the working class. With a new album Black Times out this week, he talks to RFI's Alison Hird about why he believes it's time to awaken black consciousness and build an African Dream based on community, not consumerism. Good times, happy times, sad times, for his fourth album 35 year old Seun Kuti serves up...