Welcome to AfricaSounds

For the past 11 years AfricaSounds has been presenting the music of Africa and the Diaspora on the internet. We report on live concert performances, in-depth artist features, documentaries on cultural travel and album reviews. The site is also an archive for reporting on Congolese and Cameroon music.

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New York "On Dit Quoi!"

Abidjan New York Music Feature

Click on photo links below to access music and travel features:

Ismael Isaac, African Reggae-------------Affou Keita, Manding Traditions--------------Cote D'Ivoire Impressions

If all goes according to plan, 2009 will be a landmark year for showcasing the best in Ivoirian music in New York and throughout the east coast of North America. Not since before the outbreak of civil war in Cote D'Ivoire (2002) have so many Ivoirian artists planned North American tours. What began with attending shows by Africa and The World Productions in New York has become an ongoing project in our minds, exploring music from Cote D'Ivoire and resulted in a visit by AfricaSounds to Abidjan to meet artists from the various Ivoirian music genres. Over the course of the next 6 months, a snapshot of the current musical landscape will be presented, including Coupe Decale, Zougolou, Manding, African Reggae, Afro-Zouk, and Zoblazo. International stars including Alpha Blondy, Meiwey, Yode and Siro, Espoir 2000, Monique Seka, Pierrette Adams, Ismael Isaac will return, and music fans will also be treated to some of the most popular current artists including Affou Keita, Petit Papou, Betika, Korotoum Kamara, Amy Camara, Zagazou, Les Freres de la Rue, Abraham Moussa, Kemin Fanta, Kady Doumbia. Click on following links to access features: (1) Abidjan-New York Music Feature and (2) Cote D'Ivoire Impressions

 

Dominica World Creole Music Festival + Travel Guide

The annual Dominica World Creole Music Festival offers three nights of Creole music including bands from Dominica, Martinique, Guadaloupe and Haiti, as well as other music styles from Africa and the Diaspora. Local Dominica traditional dance and culture acts are interspersed between the main music performers. [Link to Main Feature] This year's line-up featured equal parts musicians from Dominica and leading bands from abroad. Friday Night started with First Serenade, Ophelia, Waitukubuli Dance Theater, Jeff Joseph & Gramacks, Tradibelle, Oliver Ngoma, Nasio Fontaine, Carimi and WCK. Saturday Night started with MFR, and then Swinging Stars, Tabou Combo, Sean Paul, Djakout Mizik, and Triple Kay International. Sunday Night started with Belles Combo, then Julie Mourillon, Kassav, Machal Mantano, Midnight Groovers. The photos (above) provide a link to the main feature, while each sub-feature, including the three evenings of music and in-depth travel and cultural features can be viewed via links below:

DOMINICA WORLD CREOLE MUSIC FESTIVAL LINKS:

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-------Friday Night-----------Saturday Night--------Sunday Night-------------Isma Alie-

DOMINICA TRAVEL LINKS:

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-----------Roseau-------------------South---------------East & Interior-----------------North

DOMINICA LODGING LINK:

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------------Lodging

Upcoming Features:

1. Albums Now Listening To: AfricaSounds suggests the latest new releases, reissues and some select classics from our archives that you will not want to miss. Check out what is making us groove these days.

2. Album Reviews (Archives): Visit AfricaSounds extensive album review archive, by music style.

 

New Album Review:

Putumayo Reggae Africa

“Putumayo African Reggae” [Putumayo World Music, 2009 release]

Album Review by Hortense Fuller of AfricaSounds.com. February 2009.

Putumayo Presents “African Reggae” is a contemporary update to several excellent African Reggae compilations in our music collection including Hemisphere’s “Reggae Africa” (1994), Shanachie’s “Fly African Eagle (1997) and Rounder Records’ “Black Star Liner” (1983). The Putumayo compilation is a terrific release that warrants repeated listening and showcases several well-known favorites including Ismael Isaac (Cote D’Ivoire), Tiken Jah Fakoly (Cote D’Ivoire) joined by Ba Cissoko (Guinea), Serges Kassy (Cote D’Ivoire) and Majek Fashek (Nigeria). The compilation also sheds a light on artists lesser known stateside including Mo’Kalamity & The Wizards (Cape Verde), Bingui Jaa Jammy (Burkina Faso), Zoro (South Africa), Nino Galissa (Guinea-Bissau), Kwame Bediako (Ghana) and One Love Family (Cape Verde). The series provides its trademark linear notes in 3 languages, including a high level overview of the Reggae movement and one-page biographies on each artist complete with photos.

There is a contemporary sheen to most of the songs, but despite this they hold on to their roots emphasized by the abilities of each artist to fuse reggae with local African music styles. The first track is the oldest, entitled “Magno Mako” by Ismael Isaac of Cote D’Ivoire, taken from the terrific Sterns “Black System” release in 1990 which showcases Isaac’s Treichville-influenced vocal delivery technique, which many have likened to Ivorian legend Alpha Blondy, over a driving, keyboard lead reggae riff. Two things stand out to us the album’s second track by Cape Verdean Mo’Kalamity, called “Vision”: first, the terrific wah-wah effects floating over the tight drum and bass, and Mo’Kalamity’s soulful vocal style where her voice literally flutters and dances over the roots rhythm. Next, Bingui Jaa Jammy of Burkina Faso’s “Congo Natty” heralds brethren who go ahead and break “the tribal, ethnic and racial barriers to restore united strength.” over a bubbling roots rhythm with call and response vocals. South African Zoro takes a bluesy, harmonica-lead romp with a soulful vocals repeating the chant “Jah, have a little bit of life I say… don’t let the problems get you down.” It’s a deft melding of reggae, soul and rhythm & blues and its repetitive trance inducing vocals draw you into the message.

Nino Galissa of Guinea-Bissau’s song “Krebo Cheo” begins with the classical notes of the Kora but quickly shifts to brass-heavy, afro-reggae that is reminiscent of the tight, punchy style of Alpha Blondy’s mid-1990s work with the Solar System band and the Kalori Sory’s superb solo album “Rasta Donso”. Its similarities are not unwelcome, and Nino Galissa sings in Criolo, Mandinka, Portuguese and Spanish focusing on the social issues that he observes as well as women and their stories, the theme of his third album from which this song is culled. Cape Verde’s One Love Family is just that – a multi-generational group celebrating the ages with young and old joining together in song. The musical family sings about “the communion between man and nature as a necessary building bock to a better world’. Next, Ghanaian reggae is featured with Kwame Bediako who, in “Steppin’ into Zion” prepares us to persevere through tough times… “The race is not for the swift, nor the battle for the strong, but for those who can endure.”

Very few artists have risen so prominently in Reggae music over the past decade as Tiken Jah Fakoly of Cote D’Ivoire. His popularity rivals the first generation of African Reggae legends (Blondy/ Fashek/ Dube) particularly in the Francophone speaking world. Putumayo includes a collaboration between Fakoly and Guinean group Ba Cissoko, whose recent album “Electric Griot Land” and their just released “Seno” on Sterns Africa have struck chords on the world music charts. The collaboration works, combining Fakoly’s trademark vocal delivery (once you’ve heard it, you instantly recognize it) with fusion-based Kora trance music. Next, Serges Kassy of Cote D’Ivoire returns with “Jah Libile” and, like Ismael Isaac, heralds from the Treichville ‘school of music’. Again, it is classic Ivoirian African reggae, punchy horns, suave female backing vocals and tight keyboard driven reggae riffs. Although it’s not unique, per se, we cannot get enough of it!

Much has been written on Africa Sounds about Nigerian reggae star Majek Fashek, including several up-front and personal interviews with the rainmaker. We caught up with Majek to discuss the complex and multiple meanings behind the stunning song “Man Of Sorrow” which concludes this collection and is as much a commentary on the world around him as a self-reflection about the trials and tribulations of life. In his own words:

“Man of Sorrow, that’s my own composition. I am talking about one’s relationship with their child – my mother used to say "don’t tell a child what he will be tomorrow" – it’s like, you see that little kid [Majek motions across the park to a child strolling with his father in Washington Square Park]. You know, that could have been George Bush once, you see, you never know. So that’s the vision of “Man of Sorrow.” Sometimes you might get worries in life and it appears that everything is over, but if you believe in God, that he’s the creator, you never know what you might become… perhaps a Senator tomorrow – you – you can even become Chief of Staff! What I am saying is: “What will be, will be, if Jah says so.” What we are talking about is the destiny of man. When we were young, little kids in Africa, we always dreamed about America, dreamed about wanting to come to America. You know, and here we are, right now, in America. So what will be will be if Jah says so. So it might take some time…there have been rumors about me… but the problems that I went though was a phase of spiritualism. I’ve encountered a lot of spirits in my life, but through the mercy of God, that’s why I’ve met you, and met others who have helped me along the way… and together we were able to make things work... my old time friends. We are taking our time to put everything in our right perspective… So “Man of Sorrow” is about the future of every human. Don’t tell a child what he will be tomorrow. He might just become a president. That doesn’t stop him from attaining or achieving his destiny. You have to train your child, put him in school. The normal school of life - give the child a good education because the child must know how to relate to human beings. But from there, once the child is growing, he has to decide what to do with his own life.”

Majek Fashek’s message is a fitting conclusion to a superb release on the Putumayo music label, a compilation that we highly recommend for its contemporary glimpse into the African reggae scene and the important message behind roots music.

Rating: Highly recommended release

Review: Hortense Fuller, Africa Sounds

Majek Fashek live in New York

Nigerian reggae musician Majek Fashek returned to New York for his first Manhattan performance in a couple years at the Times Square B.B. King's venue. The artist behind the legendary "Spirit of Love" recordings performed classics from his musicaL cannon spanning two decades. Check out this latest feature, as well as two previous interviews with Majek Fashek on this website from 2001 and 1995 respectively. [LINK TO FEATURE]

Majek Fashek singing at BB KingsMajek Fashek Live at BB Kings

Kakande record release party with special guest Mory Kanté on kora, guitars and vocals

AfricaSounds attended the album release concert for the New York based band Kakande live at SOBs. Guinean kora legend Mory Kanté joined the group for a second set of music - signaling his respect for Kakande's music and gracing the audience with a chance to witness two generations of guinean musicians performing on the same stage.

Kakande balafon photo Kakande Band in Bus in Africa

Congo Kishasa Update - Volume 5

Dizzy MandjekuDizzy Mandjeku's Odemba OK All Stars by Martin Sinnock

Dominica World Creole Music Festival

AfricaSounds basks in Creole warmth - reporting on the Dominica World Creole Music Festival and nature island.

Artist Jumping Dominica World Creole Music Festival Wyclef Jean Dominica World Creole Music Festival