San Francisco, California, USA – The Rough Guide To The Music
Of Sudan includes the diverse and rich music that has emerged from Africa’s
largest country, from desert rhythms echoing a camel’s stride to savannah
woodland harmonies. This album offers an overview of a flourishing musical
culture – including trance drumming, hip-hop, orchestral music, Arabic love
songs and spicy horn sections – and incorporates influences from Egypt to Congo
and from the White Nile to the Blue Nile. Home to people whose roots and cultural influences come from as far a field
as Nigeria, Kenya, Turkey and Syria, this album reflects Sudan’s enormous
cultural diversity. A former child soldier who was adopted by British aid worker
Emma McCune, Emmanuel Jal’s song ‘Gua’ went to Number 1 in the Kenyan KTN Top 10
chart. Emmanuel is now the spokesman for the Campaign to Stop the Use of Child
Soldiers and one of Africa’s hottest young rappers (‘from child soldier to rap
superstar’ Observer}. World Music Network has signed Emmanuel to Riverboat
Records and he is currently recording a new album with Abdel Gadir Salim, a
venerated master of northern Sudanese music. Also featured on The Rough Guide
To The Music Of Sudan, Abdel Gadir Salim flavors his music with the unique
rhythms and melodies of Kordofan and Darfur and both musicians hope their
forthcoming collaboration will contribute to the vulnerable peace process.
Dubbed The Golden Throat’, Mohammed Wardi’s compositions and performances
over five decades have gained him legendary status across Africa and the Middle
East. Since the 1970s he has publicly defended artistic freedoms and ‘Azibni’
was taken from his 1994 open-air concert in Addis Ababa.
One of Sudan’s great international stars, Abdel Aziz El Mubarak trained at
Khartoum’s famous Institute of Music and Drama. He was the first Sudanese artist
to play WOMAD and ‘Na-Nu Na-Nu’, in the Amharic language, is a tribute to the
Abdel Karim El Kabli is regarded as one of the Old Masters, a walking
repository of musical folklore who embraces both colloquial and classical
styles. A traditional song first arranged by Kabli in 1973, ‘Kabbas’ highlights
the interplay between Kabli’s oud and the violins, flute and bongos.
Another magnificent ud player, Muhamed El Amin became a Sudanese folk-hero
during the 1964 October revolution, in which the people overthrew the first
post-independence military dictatorship. Jailed by Nimeri’s regime in the 1970s,
he moved to Cairo after 1989 but returned to Khartoum in 1994.
This album also features the self-taught oud playing of Mustafa Al Sunni and
sparse ud from Rasha on ‘Aguis Mahasnik Biman’.
Setona is one of the few singers of the gutsy women’s roots or daloka music
to have made it from private parties to the recording studio. A henna artist,
and a warm and vivacious performer, she was visited in Egypt by the artist
sometimes known as Prince.
A previously unreleased track from the Omdurman Women’s Ensemble, ‘Daloka Bet
El Mal’ is a typically impudent and saucy daloka song that reflects on Sudan’s
economic crises and sharia law. Recorded during a psychotherapeutic Zar session
in Omdurman, ‘Chant One’ is another previously unreleased song. Mainly for
women, Zar sessions combine days of hypnotic drumming where women can smoke,
drink and act out rebellious fantasies, without having their religious piety or
social respectability called into question.
The Rough Guide To The Music Of Sudan also features the Nuba
saxophone-player-turned-bandleader Tarig Abubakar, a liberation song from Joseph
Modi and an un-named Didinga woman singing of how weary the people are of
Sudan’s civil war. Although Sudan was the first country in Africa to gain
independence, since its colonial history it has been split by a violent and
bloody civil war. Sudan is now striving to implement a peace deal to end the
continent’s longest conflict.