Category Archives: Artist Profiles

Artist profiles: Ysaye Barnwell

Ysaye Barnwell

Ysaye Barnwell joined Sweet Honey In The Rock in 1979 and along with Bernice Johnson Reagon became one of the group’s main spokeswomen. Barnwell holds Bachelor and Master of Science degrees in Speech Pathology, is a Doctor of Philosophy and Public Health and has been a professor at Howard University. She has worked on various projects as a composer and musical consultant including contributions to Sesame Street, the Dance Company of Pittsburgh and the Women’s Philharmonic of San Francisco.

Her workshop Singing In The African-American Tradition has been conducted all around the world and she is also an actress and an author.

Discography:

Good News (Flying Fish, 1981)
We All…Everyone Of Us (Flying Fish, 1983)
The Other Side (Flying Fish, 1985)
Breaths (Flying Fish, 1988)
Feel Something Drawing Me On (Flying Fish, 1985)
Live At Carnegie Hall (Flying Fish, 1988)
All For Freedom (Music For Little People, 1989)
In This Land (Earthbeat! 1992)
Still On The Journey (Earthbeat! 1993)
I Got Shoes (Music For Little People, 1994)
Sacred Ground (Earthbeat! 1996)
Selections (Flying Fish/Rounder 1997)
Twenty Five enhanced CD (Rykodisc, 1998)
Freedom Song soundtrack (Sony Classical, 2000)
Still the Same Me (Rounder Kids, 2000)
Alive in Australia (2003)
The Women Gather (Earthbeat, 2003)
Endings and Beginnings (2004)
Raise Your Voice (Earthbeat, 2005)
Are We A Nation? (2010)

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Artist Profiles: Sweet Honey in the Rock

Sweet Honey in the Rock

The all-female a cappella group Sweet Honey In The Rock began in 1973, a project put together by its founder Bernice Johnson Reagon. The name came from their first song, a parable that told of a land so rich that when the rocks were cracked open, honey flowed.

Combining the full range of the African-American vocal tradition, Sweet Honey’s repertoire incorporates original West African songs that were brought by slaves to the Americas, work songs, congregational spirituals, full-on gospel numbers, blues, jazz, freedom songs from the Civil Rights movement, love songs and rap.

Sweet Honey’s members come from a variety of backgrounds. Founder Bernice Johnson Reagon’s scholarly credentials include her appointment as Curator Emerita at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History in Washington DC. She has worked on several award-winning films and documentaries, including the series Eyes On The Prize, We Shall Overcome and Wade In The Water. She received a Presidential Medal in 1995 for her contribution to the humanities and is the author of several books on African-American History.

Over the years the lineup has changed.

Discography:

Sweet Honey In The Rock (Flying Fish, 1976)
B’lieve I’ll Run On… (Redwood, 1978)
Good News (Flying Fish, 1981)
We All…Everyone Of Us (Flying Fish, 1983)
The Other Side (Flying Fish, 1985)
Breaths (Flying Fish, 1988)
Feel Something Drawing Me On (Flying Fish, 1985)
Live At Carnegie Hall (Flying Fish, 1988)
All For Freedom (Music For Little People, 1989)
In This Land (Earthbeat! 1992)
Still On The Journey (Earthbeat! 1993)
I Got Shoes (Music For Little People, 1994)
Sacred Ground (Earthbeat! 1996)
Selections (Flying Fish/Rounder 1997)
Twenty Five enhanced CD (Rykodisc, 1998)
Freedom Song soundtrack (Sony Classical, 2000)
Still the Same Me (Rounder Kids, 2000)
Alive in Australia (2003)
The Women Gather (Earthbeat, 2003)
Endings and Beginnings (2004)
Raise Your Voice (Earthbeat, 2005)
Are We A Nation? (2010)
A Tribute — Live! Jazz at Lincoln Center (2013)
Silent Night (2014)
#LoveInEvolution (2016)

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Artist profiles: Susheela Raman

Susheela Raman

Susheela was born in London in 1973 to a Tamil family. From her childhood she studied traditional Southern Indian music as taught by her parents. She grew up between two musical cultures: western and Indian.

At the age of 11 her family moved to Sydney where she started her singing career. Her strong stage presence was soon noticed. Wishing to delve deeper into her Indian cultural heritage she left for India to study with Shruti Sadolikar, a leading Hindustani classical singer.

Back in Great Britain in 1997, she sought to combine Indian and Western musical styles. In 1998 Susheela started to work with Joi, pioneers of “Asian breakbeat fusionist” music and was featured on their album One and One Is One (Real World).

Susheela Raman

In 1999 Joi won the BBC Asia Music Award. Susheela sang with Joi in Europe and the United States supporting the Eurythmics at Wembley Arena and winning over audiences unfamiliar with the new Asian sound.

She continued her fusion of South Asian and Western musical styles in her solo recordings.

Discography:

Salt Rain (Narada, 2001)
Love Trap (Narada, 2003)
Music for Crocodiles (2005)
33 1⁄3 (2007)
Vel (2011)
Queen Between (2014)

United Kingdom’

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Artist profiles: Karen Tweed

Karen Tweed

Karen Tweed was born in Willesden, London, UK in 1963. She has Irish and English roots. Tweed is an accordion virtuoso known for her work with The Kathryn Tickell Band (1990-1993), The Poozies, Roger Wilson, Sally Barker and her insatiable appetite for Irish sessions. Tweed has also recorded two releases with Ian Carr, Fyace (Fyasco) and Shhh (Hypertension).

She was a member of Anglo-Swedish band Swåp 1997-2005.

Partial Discography:

The Palm Of Your Hand, with Roger Wilson (1987)
Beating The Drum, with Sally Barker & The Rhythm (1992)
Signs, with The Kathryn Tickell Band (1993)
Chantoozies, with The Poozies (1993)
Drops Of Springwater (1994)
The Silver Spire (1994)
Irish Choice Tune Book (1994)
Courage, Love and Grace, with Pete Morton (1995)
Dansoozies, with The Poozies (1995)
Shhh, with Ian Carr (1995)
Fyace, with Ian Carr(1997)
Swåp (Amigo, 1997)
New Directions In The Old, with Roy Bailey (1997)
Come Raise Your Head, with The Poozies (1998)
Sic, with Swåp (Amigo, 1999)
Half As Happy As We, with The Two Duos Quartet (1999)
Infinite Blue, with The Poozies (2000)
Coda, with Roy Bailey (2000)
Raise your head: A Retrospective, with The Poozies (2001)
May Monday, with Timo Alakotila (2001)
Mosquito Hunter, with Swåp (2002)
One Roof Under, with Andy Cutting (2002)
Faerd, with Faerd (2003)
Changed Days Same Roots, with The Poozies (2003)
Each Step on the Way, with Tony Hilliard (2005)
Du Da, with Swåp (2005)
Gastbud, with Morten Alfred Hoirup and Harald Haaugaard (2005)
Essentially Invisible to the Eye (2012)

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Artist profiles: Swåp

Swåp

Swåp is a transnational band featuring two Swedish and two British musicians; two men and two women; a combination of Nordic folk fiddling and traditional Celtic music. Their music moves effortlessly from Swedish polska to Irish jig, from Swedish “vals” to British waltz, with swinging arrangements, memorable original compositions, grace, respect and passion.

Band member Ian Carr describes the band’s sound: “When Karen and I learn a Swedish tune off Ola and Carina, we hear it in our style, which is miles away from the way traditional Swedish music sounds in the hands of a real Swedish musician; just as when Karen and I teach an Irish tune to Ola and Carina, the same thing happens: the music changes.”

All four members of Swap are active composers and prominent in the English and Swedish roots music scenes.

The four original musicians were: Karen Tweed on piano accordion; Ian Carr on guitar; Carina Normansson on vocals and fiddle; and Ola Backstrom on vocals and viola d’amore.

Karen Tweed left the ensemble in 2007.

Discography:

Swåp (Amigo, 1997)
Sic (Amigo, 1999)
Mosquito Hunter (2002)
Du Da (2005)

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Artist profiles: Susana Seivane

Susana Seivane

Susana Seivane Hoyo was born August 25, 1976 in in Barcelona, Spain. She is the legitimate heir of a lineage of bagpipe craftsmen: the Seivanes. Her father is a bagpipe maker and her grandfather Xosé Seivane is one of the remaining old pipers still alive who together with Ricardo Portela or Moxenas (both deceased) formed part of one of the most important generations of Galician pipers, becoming masters and guides for today’s finest pipers.

Susana’s father, Alvaro was living in Barcelona, studying and making bagpipes for people in Galicia, Madrid and abroad. After ten years in Barcelona, the Seivanes returned to their Galician homeland.

Seivane’s style of playing, typical of “inland” pipers – the prestigious pipers from Fonsagrada, won her the respect and admiration of the piping world and traditional musicians in Galicia. This brilliant “inland” style, a tempered playing style, present in her music, shows a woman who has synthesized the most modern interpretive techniques like no one else with the “enxebre” style of the old pipers.

Susana surrounded herself with a group of young musicians that brought freshness and energy to her live performances that reproduces her albums. Her first recording was produced by Rodrigo Romaní, one of the founders of the legendary Galician folk music group Milladoiro.

Her band is not a conventional one. She uses instruments like bouzouki and guitar. Seivane plays traditional material although she also composes a few originals.

 

Discography

Susana Seivane (Boa Music, 1999)
Alma de buxo (Boa Music, 2001)
Mares de tempo (Boa Music, 2004)
Os soños que volven (Enavies, 2009)

DVD

Susana Seivane e amigos (Enavies, 2015)

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Artist profiles: Strunz & Farah

Strunz & Farah

Jorge Strunz and Ardeshir Farah, originally from Costa Rica and Iran respectively, have pioneered a new expression for the acoustic guitar. Bringing the cultural riches of their native lands to their highly virtuosic rhythmic and improvisation-rich original compositions these “fieras de la guitarra” (“wild animals of the guitar”) have profoundly influenced guitarists everywhere creating a new genre.

Jorge given his first guitar at age 6 grew up in a Caribbean environment, playing flamenco and classical guitar, incorporating jazz, Afro-Latin and Latin American folk forms. Ardeshir Farah was raised in Iran and England and also played guitar since childhood focusing on popular music and improvisation. Both began performing professionally in their early teens.

The travels of his diplomat father brought Jorge to the United States while Ardeshir arrived as a student of architecture. Fortune and music brought the two together when Ardeshir came to see Jorge perform with his Latin jazz-fusion group Caldera (which put out 4 albums on Capitol). When the two guitarists subsequently met it was instantly obvious that they were brothers of the guitar from opposite ends of the earth. They quickly prepared a repertoire began performing and recorded their first project ‘Mosaico’ in 1980.

Although record companies at that time were not yet ready for this exotic new music, jazz radio embraced it enthusiastically and the duo caught the attention of Milestone with whom they put out two CDs in the early 1980s ‘Frontera’ and ‘Guitarras’.

The intimate audiophile recording ‘Misterio’ was commissioned and recorded by Waterlily Acoustics in 1989. Following this came the phenomenally successful recordings ‘Primal Magic’ (1990) and ‘Americas’ (1992) on Mesa/Atlantic which won Billboard’s World Music Album of the Year and a Grammy nomination respectively.

The artists then started their own record company Selva as an artist-friendly alternative to the majors and put out ‘Heat of the Sun’ (top 1 Billboard World Music chart) and ‘Live’ the artists’ first live performance recording. Strunz & Farah received back the rights to ‘Primal Magic’ and ‘Americas’ which were re-released on Selva, an indepent label owned by the artists and distributed independently.

On Stringweave, Strunz and Farah are accompanied by guests such as Indian violin master Dr. L. Subramanian. Puerto Rican cuatro virtuoso Edwin Colón Zayas. Persian violinist Bijan Mortazevi and many others.

Discography:

Mosaico (1982, Reissued on Selva 1997)

Frontera (Milestone 1984)

Guitarras (Milestone 1985)

Misterio (AudioQuest 1989)

Primal Magic (1990, Reissued on Selva 1999)

Americas (1992 Reissued on Selva 1999)

Heat Of The Sun (Selva 1995)

Live (Selva 1997)

Wild Muse (Selva 1998)

Best of Strunz &Farah (Selva 2000)

Stringweave (Selva 2001)

Rio de Colores (Selva 2003)

Zona Torrida (Selva 2004)

Desert Guitars (Selva 2005)

Jungle Guitars (Selva 2006)

Fantaseo (Selva 2006)

Journey Around The Sun (Selva 2011)

Moods and Visions (Selva 2014)

DVD

In Performance (2003)

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Artist profiles: Steve Shehan

Steve Shehan

Born in Fort Eustis, Virginia, Steve Shehan spent his childhood in the Florida Keys. Later he moved to Europe, living in Sweden, where he started playing professionally as a recording and performing artist. He also worked as a music therapist before moving to France.

Before focusing on percussion and composition he studied drums, bass, piano and guitar. Steve has since played with great artists such as Paul Simon, Bob Dylan, Cheb Mami, Sting, Simon Shaheen, Leonard Bernstein, John McLaughlin, Brian Eno, the Gipsy Kings, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Vangelis, Richard Horowitz, Michael Brecker, David Rhodes, and Akiro Inoue, with Peter Gabriel’s band, Paul Mc Cartney, as well as well-known European and Europe-based artists such as Ricardo Cocciante, Yves Montand, Zazie Liane, Foly, Veronique Sanson, Stephane Eicher, Wasis Diop, Khaled, Lokua Kanza, Nittin Sawhney, Geoffrey Oryema, Magma, Rokia Traore, etc.

Steve Shehan composed and produced personally various soundtrack albums of films: Bye Bye / Karim Dridi Le maitre des Elephants / Patrick Grandperret, notably participated in Kirikou & L’amant.

His album “Elevations” was realized in association with the singer musician and Iranian painter Reza Derakshani taken out in June 26 was selected by FIP in 26. The duet already occurred on stage repeatedly notably in one “live at FIP” in November 26 and in February 2007 at the Sunset in Paris. He is one of three members of the Hadouk Trio which performs regularly has a big success with “Utopies” and won the 2007 French music award: best artist of the year. The trio released “Baldamore,” a CD/DVD recorded live at the “Cabaret Sauvage” in Paris.

He is also profoundly interested in collaborative research on prehistoric instruments with the Musee de l’Homme in Paris.

 

 

Discography:

April Orchestra Vol. 68 Presente Impressions De Voyages (CBS Disques 1986)

Arrows (Made To Measure, 1990)

Assouf, with Baly Othmani (Al Sur, 1994)

Indigo Dreams (Kvox, 1995)

Assarouf, with Baly Othmani (Triloka Records, 1997)

Safar – Journey (Al Sur Media 7, 1997)

Awham, with Youssef El Idrissi (Aia Music, 1998)

Alif – Love Supreme, with Omar Faruk Tekbilek (Narada World, 2002)

Elevations, with Reza Derakshani (Safar Productions 2006)

Assikel, with Baly Othmani (Safar Productions 2008)

Awalin, with Nabil Othmani (Safar Productions Naïve, 2009)

Far&Near (Sound Microsurgery Department, 2011)

Hang With You (Naïve, 2013)

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Artist profiles: Stephen Kent

Stephen Kent

Pioneering didjeridu virtuoso Stephen Kent was born in Devon, UK. Through his efforts, he has brought the ancient Aboriginal sound into a contemporary context. ‘I want to capture the essence and potential of the didjeridu and to put it on the musical map as a serious instrument with incredible versatility,’ said the composer and multi-instrumentalist. During a long career with the didjeridu, Kent has developed an approach that is unmistakably his own exploring a remarkable range of playing styles in diverse musical genres. Along the way he has amassed a catalog of over a dozen critically acclaimed albums, including four solo releases and many others with his group projects Trance Mission, Beasts of Paradise and Lights In A Fat City.

Demand for Kent’s didj work has taken him all over the world playing recording and collaborating with top artists in divergent musical arenas from Leonard Eto of Kodo in Japan to Megadrums, with Airto Moreira and Zakir Hussain to Habib Koite of Mali and back home to the Oakland Symphony Orchestra’s new work by Afro-Cuban pianist Omar Sosa.

Raised in East Africa and the UK, Kent cut his teeth in the London music scene of the late 1970s with the band Furious Pig. As musical director of Australia’s Circus Oz he found a relationship with Aboriginal culture and the didjeridu. ‘Awakening to the Aboriginal world was like my own Big Bang. For me the recreation of a musical universe on the didj the culture of one note continues to this day,’ Kent says.

After his stint in the Circus Arts, Kent focused once more on music. He began to build a career around the sound of the didj forming Lights In A Fat City in London and touring throughout Europe and North America. The group’s landmark debut CD Somewhere (1987) was the first European release of contemporary didjeridu music.

In 1991 Kent relocated to the San Francisco Bay Area, where he co-formed the groups Trance Mission and Beasts of Paradise performing and recording to great public and critical acclaim in the U.S. and abroad.

With the ground-breaking and well-received Landing (City of Tribes) Kent embarked upon his solo career. The follow-up Family Tree (City of Tribes) is a collection of works from the aforementioned groups along withnew pieces that together trace the unique sonic journey Kent began two decades earlier.

A wholly original talent truly transcending categories Stephen Kent is an innovator on the global music scene with the ability to both trigger the imagination and transport the spirit. For the last nine years Stephen has worked to promote world music through his capacity as Thursday morning host of ‘Music of the World’ on KPFA-FM in Berkeley, California.

His 2004 CD Oil & Water (Family Tree) conjures up a musical landscape in which opposites meet and where cool conversations between distinct cultures begin. ‘It’s like good cooking combining strong elements from divergent sources with music as the common language‘ says Kent.

By bringing Kent’s didjeridu together with other extraordinary musicians – Moroccan musician Yassir Chadly, traditional Scots piper Jimi McRae and the sensational Tuvan throat singer Igor Koshkendey – Oil & Water opened the ears to a new world of possibilities.

In 2008, Stephen Kent co-founded Baraka Moon.

Discography:

I Don’t Like Your Face EP, with Furious Pig (Rough Trade, 1980)
Somewhere, with Lights in a Fat City (These Records, 1988)
City Simple Harmonic Motion, with Lights in a Fat City (1990)
Ocho Elefantes (Burnt Earth Music, 1990)
Songs From the Burnt Earth (Burnt Earth, 1992)
Sound Column, with Lights in a Fat City (Extreme, 1993)
Trance Mission, with Trance Mission (City of Tribes, 1993)
Spacetime Continuum, with Terence McKenna (Astralwerks, 1994)
Landing (City of Tribes, 1994)
Event Horizon (City of Tribes, 1994)
Meanwhile, with Trance Mission (City of Tribes, 1994)
Nobody Knew the Time, with Beasts of Paradise (City of Tribes, 1995)
Event Horizon Psi (City of Tribes, 1995)
Gathered on the Edge, with Beasts of Paradise (City of Tribes, 1995)
Head Light, with Trance Mission (City of Tribes, 1996)
Halcyon Days (Fathom, 1996)
Event Horizon Tao (City of Tribes, 1996)
Family Tree (City of Tribes, 1997)
Chameleon, with Badi Assad (Polygram Records, 1998)
A Day Out of Time, with Trance Mission (City of Tribes, 1999)
Memory Ground, with Lights in a Fat City (City of Tibes, 1999)
Burundi (Musisoft, 2000)
Oil & Water (Family Tree, 2004)
Stephen Kent Live at Starwood (Starwood Recordings, 2006)
Living Labyrinths (Family Tree, 2007)
Imagination Club, with Eda Maxym (Family Tree, 2007)
The Painted Road (Family Tree, 2016)
Wind Horse (Baraka Moon Music, 2017)

DVD:

Stephen Kent Live at Starwood (Starwood Recordings, 2006)

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