Palm World Voices Africa, a Stunning Collection of Song, Video, Photography, and Design

Various Artists

Palm World Voices Africa (Palm Pictures/Universal Music, 2005)

We get some really fabulous CDs here at World Music Central, but Palm World Voices‘ CD/DVD set on Africa was an opportunity for me to shriek, “Goody, Goody” and run off to the DVD player. This set is reason for rejoice. There’s not only a CD overflowing with good music, but there is also a DVD of videos, a booklet and a National Geographic map. And really, who doesn’t love a National Geographic map suitable for framing?

The CD includes such notable tracks as King Sunny Ade‘s “Ja Fumni,” African Fiesta’s “Paquita,” Baaba Maal‘s “African Woman,” and Salif Keita‘s ” Africa.” There’s also Cesaria Evora crooning “Carnaval de São Vicente” and Brenda Fassie‘s “Vulindlela” and Cheikh N’Digël Lô‘s “M’Beddemi.” The rich feel-good flavor of Africa starts with Ray Lema‘s “Ata N’Dele” and doesn’t stop until the last track, Pierre Akendengué‘s “N’Dego”

The DVD is a collection of ten videos set to the music of Oumou Sangare, Sunny Ade, Paquita, Ray Lema, Brenda Fassie and Baaba Maal. These aren’t the standard videos of a camera parked in front of a band, in fact there’s no video of the musicians themselves. Instead it’s a wonder mix of video taken from Africa and lives lived by everyday Africans.

There’s a video set to Pierre-Claver Akendengué‘s “N’Dego” that shows farming in Mozambique and irrigation efforts in Northern Ethiopia. Sunny Ade’s “Ja Fumni” is the music to video of the tea and coffee pickers of Kenya. African Fiesta‘s “Paquita” is the backdrop for coverage of Uganda’s Kabaka during his coronation.

There is something telling and poignant about all this wonderful music combined with the video record of life in Africa. It’s testament to the hard lives of most Africans and their enduring brightness and perseverance in the face of famine, war and civil conflict.

The booklet, filled with incredible designs and photographs, dubs Africa as the ‘musical continent’ and proves it through a series of examinations of music’s role in struggle against injustice and war throughout the continent. In addition, the booklet’s text explores the different regions, styles and the musicians themselves in the relationship to the people of Africa and the influence Africa has had on world music.

Palm World Voices Africa is a first-class collection of song, video, photography, design and text. I would have liked to see some small interviews with some of the artists included, but it remains a stunning package of CD, DVD, booklet and map. With Palm World Voices having released the collection on Africa and their other titles Vedic Path and Baaba Maal, we can’t wait to see what they have in store for their up-coming projects as Brazil, Mandela and Spirit.

Author: TJ Nelson

TJ Nelson is a regular CD reviewer and editor at World Music Central. She is also a fiction writer. Check out her latest book, Chasing Athena’s Shadow.

Set in Pineboro, North Carolina, Chasing Athena’s Shadow follows the adventures of Grace, an adult literacy teacher, as she seeks to solve a long forgotten family mystery. Her charmingly dysfunctional family is of little help in her quest. Along with her best friends, an attractive Mexican teacher and an amiable gay chef, Grace must find the one fading memory that holds the key to why Grace’s great-grandmother, Athena, shot her husband on the courthouse steps in 1931.

Traversing the line between the Old South and New South, Grace will have to dig into the past to uncover Athena’s true crime.