Category Archives: Artist Profiles

Artist Profiles: Camané

Camané – Photo by Felipe Ferreira

Carlos Manuel Moutinho Paiva dos Santos Duarte, better-known as Camané, was born on December 20, 1966 in Oeiras, Portugal.

He started getting appreciation in Portugal in 1979 after winning the ‘Grande Noite do Fado’ (Great Fado Night) contest. He became one of the leading male singers and achieved commercial success with six certified gold albums: Uma Noite de Fados (1995), Na Linha da Vida (1998),  Esta Coisa da Alma (2000), Pelo Dia Dentro (2001), the live recording Como sempre… Como dantes (2003), and Sempre De Mim (2008).

Infinito Presente (2015), the product of an extended collaboration with the writer José Maria Branco, includes lyrics and arrangements that are deceptively simple. The songs express the mysterious emotion that the Portuguese claim as uniquely and exclusively theirs: saudade, which is at once the happiness that brings sadness, and the sadness that brings happiness.

On Camané’s 2017 album, Canta Marceneiro , he revisits the repertory of Alfredo Marceneiro, an early 20th century fado singer who, though only moderately competent as a technician, completely changed fado’s possibilities for artistic expression through unrestrained inventiveness and wit. Camané’s Canta Marceneiro is filled with mischievous stories that reveal the common cares and fears in all of us through the lives of astute waitresses, drunken painters, and kings’ courtiers.

Discography:

A Alma Jovem Do Fado ‎(Riso E Ritmo Discos, 1982)
Uma Noite de Fados ( EMI-Valentim de Carvalho, 1995)
Na Linha da Vida ( EMI-Valentim de Carvalho, 1998)
Esta Coisa da Alma ( EMI-Valentim de Carvalho, 2000)
Pelo Dia Dentro (EMI Portugal, 2001)
Como sempre… Como dantes (EMI Portugal, 2003)
Ao vivo no São Luíz (2006)
Sempre de Mim (EMI Portugal, 2008)
Do Amor e dos Dias (EMI Portugal, 2010)
O Melhor 1995–2013 (Warner Music Portugal, 2013)
Infinito Presente ( Warner Music Portugal, 2015)
Canta Marceneiro ( Warner Music Portugal, 2017)

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Artist Profiles: Amir-John Haddad

Amir-John Haddad

German-Spanish musician Amir-John Haddad, better known as El Amir, was born in 1975 in Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany. He moved to Spain in 1997.

El Amir is a multi-instrumentalist, composer, arranger, musical director, and producer. He‘s considered one of the best concert guitarists in today‘s Spanish scene, defined by his personality, maturity, sound and style.

El Amir has been playing flamenco guitar and the Arabic oud since he was seven years old, and has been performing on stage for 30 years. In addition to his extensive career, he has learned how to play traditional Mediterranean instruments including the Greek bouzouki and Turkish saz, being a virtuoso in all of them.

Amir-John Haddad

El Amir has collaborated with a long list of artists including Radio Tarifa, Chambao, Marcus Miller and Juno Reactor.

In 2010, Amir-John presented his show “From East to West,” combining all the instruments he plays, Arabic lute, Turkish saz, Greek bouzouki, flamenco guitar and the triple-necked electric guitar to expose a wide range of traditional music. A trip through several regions of the Mediterranean, through different instruments and original compositions mixed with modern and contemporary sounds, fired through effects processors.

Amir-John Haddad

Amir-John Haddad was part of a Madrid-based world music superband called Zoobazar. Group members included El Amir on oud and saz; La Musgaña’s fiddler, Diego Galaz on fiddle and mandolin; La Shica’s and Eliseo Parra’s drummer and percussionist, Pablo Martin Jones on drums and percussion; and the bassist of rock band GN3, Hector Tellini.

Zoobazar

Zoobazar’s debut album, Uno (2011), was a mesmerizing journey across the musics of the Mediterranean countries, including Iberian folk music, Turkish, Balkan, Greek, Middle Eastern and North African grooves and tunes combined with rock, funk and jazz.

Zoobazar’s second album, Dos, came out in 2014.

In 2017, Amir John Haddad played Vivaldi’s Concerto in C major for Mandolin for the first time on Greek bouzouki. The debut took place on the 6th of November at the National Auditorium of Music in Madrid accompanied by outstanding musicians from the Spanish National Orchestra.

José María Bandera and Amir John Haddad

Another project in 2017 was a collaboration with Paco de Lucia’s nephew, José María Bandera. The two guitarists performed material from Paco’s last album, Canción Andaluza, including María de la O, Señorita, I have to love you while you live, Chiquita Piconera, Romance of Valentía and Ojos Verdes, by Quintero, León and Quiroga and other great composers. The show also featured Josemi Garzón on double bass and Israel Katumba on percussion.

Amir John Haddad

El Amir was one the featured solo artists of the Hans Zimmer’s Tour performing flamenco guitar, electric guitar, Greek buzuki and ukulele. “The World of Hans Zimmer – A Symphonic Celebration” presents the composer’s works arranged for a live symphony orchestra. Zimmer spent months working on transforming his soundtracks into opulent concert suites. interpreting a very special selection of soundtracks from the most famous films such as Pirates of the Caribbean, Gladiator, Mission Impossible, The Holiday or Madagascar.

Discography:

Pasando Por Tabernas ‎(Double Moon Records, 2005)
Uno, with Zoobazar (Santa Fe / Ojo! Records, 2011)
9 Guitarras ‎(Zoomusic, 2013)
Dos, with Zoobazar (Galileo Music, 2014)

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Artist Profiles: Jorge Drexler

Jorge Drexler

Jorge Abner Drexler Prada, better known as Jorge Drexler, was born on September 21, 1964. He came to the world’s attention with his unprecedented 2005 Academy Award for Best Song From a Film. His song “Al Otro Lado del Rio,” from the acclaimed movie The Motorcycle Diaries, was the first Spanish-language song ever to be nominated and the first foreign-language song in the Academy’s long history to actually win.

Jorge Drexler’s career path initially followed in the family tradition: his parents and siblings are all doctors. He received a medical education, specializing in Otolaryngology (ear, nose and throat). Although medicine was the family profession, music and literature were an integral part of his upbringing.

In 1992, while still practicing medicine, Drexler released his first album La Luz Que Sabe Robar and two years later followed that with Radar. Although the albums were well received in Uruguay, success in Latin America’s smallest country of 3 million inhabitants was not enough to sustain a career.

Renowned Spanish singer-songwriter Joaquin Sabina discovered Drexler at a performance at the Teatro de Verano in Montevideo in 1994. He urged the Uruguayan musician to go to Spain, where he was sure there would be a keen interest in Drexler’s well-crafted songs.

Drexler arrived in Madrid in 1995. In Spain’s multicultural capital, he was soon placing songs with a host of well-known artists including the Cuban legend Pablo Milanés, Ana Belen, Victor Manuel, Rosario Flores, Neneh Cherry, Lorenzo Jovanotti, Paulinho Moska and Miguel Rios and sharing the stage with many of them as well. In Spain, Drexler released several albums. Vaiven (1996) was produced by Gonzalo Lasheras, songs written with Luis Eduardo Aute, Joaquin Sabina and Javier Alvarez.

Jorge Drexler

Llueve (1998) had an experimental flavor, as the singer-songwriter mixed South American milongas, zambas and candombes with a pop rhythm and sampled nature’s sounds of rain, waves and wind.

Frontera (1999), considered by many to be Drexler’s artistic breakthrough, was recorded in Uruguay with two members of the funk, rock and hip-hop group Peyote Asesino, Carlos Casacuberta and Juan Campodonico (of the Bajofondo Tango Club), as co-producers. Drexler played the traditional Uruguayan styles of candombe and murga against house and drum ‘n’ bass rhythms, creating a musical base from which to express his nostalgia and longing for his distant homeland.

The resulting album opened new doors in Argentina and elsewhere in Latin America. Sea (2001) was nominated for a Latin Grammy for Best Male Pop Vocal Album in 2002. In 2003, Drexler co-authored the international hit song “Perfume”; it appeared on the album Bajofondo Tango Club which was awarded both a Latin Grammy and Argentina’s Premio Gardel.

Drexler’s first American release was his seventh album, Eco. In addition to receiving an unprecedented 2005 Academy Award for Best Song From a Film (The Motorcycle Diaries), “Al Otro Lado del Rio” was nominated for Song of the Year at the 2005 Latin Grammys and Eco received a Best Latin Pop Album nomination at the 2005 Grammy Awards.

The album 12 Segundos de Oscuridad came out in 2006; featuring 10 original songs and two covers: “High and Dry” from British band Radiohead and “Disneylandia” from Brazilian Titãs. Even though Drexler lives most of the year in Spain, his albums were partially recorded in Uruguay with Uruguayan musicians.

In 2008, Drexler released a double live album, recorded al various locations in Spain, followed by Cara B (2008), a set of previously unreleasedsongs.

Drexler worked with Colombian singer Shakira in 2009, on the Spanish-language versions of her singles “She Wolf”, “Did it Again” and “Waka Waka (This Time for Africa).

The album Amar la Trama was released in 2010. It was a studio recording in front of a live audience.

Drexler released “Bailar en la cueva” in 2014, moving towards beats and dance.

Discography:

La Luz Que Sabe Robar (Ayui Records, 1992)
Radar (Ayui Records, 1994)
Vaivén (Virgin Records, 1996)
Llueve (Virgin Records, 1997)
Frontera (Virgin Records, 1999)
Sea (Virgin Records, 2001)
Eco (Warner Bros. Records, 2004)
12 Segundos de Oscuridad (Warner Bros. Records, 2006)
La Edad del Cielo (Warner Bros. Records, 2007)
Cara B (Warner Bros. Records, 2008)
Amar la Trama (Warner Bros. Records, 2010)
Bailar en la Cueva (Warner Bros. Records, 2014)
Salvavidas de Hielo (Warner Bros. Records, 2017)

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Artist Profiles: Deolinda

Deolinda

Deolinda formed in 2006, inspired by Mariza, the Portuguese fado star who is renowned the world over. With a theatrical bent to much of their work Deolinda’s Ana Bachalau (meaning salted cod) recalls bringing her feminine character to life ‘She stands for days listening to records her grandmother left her and watching through the lace curtains at neighbors.’

The songs they write are often vehicles for comments on Portuguese culture and lifestyle and in recent years they have had their track ‘Movimento perpetuo Associativo’ used for political gain at party conferences (a fact the band smile wryly at considering the track took aim at national identity).

Deolinda’s debut album ‘Canção ao Lado’ (2009) achieved Platinum status in Portugal and their unique blend of delicate fado and Cape Verdean blues saw them scoop newcomer of the year at the 2010 Songlines Music Awards.

Discography:

Canção ao Lado (2009)
Dois Selos e um Carimbo (World Connection, 2010)
Mundo Pequenino (2013)
Outras Histórias (2016)

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Artist Profiles: Divanhana

Divanhana

Divanhana is based in Sarajevo, a city historically described as a crossroads between the East and the West. Divanhana present new arrangements of urban traditional music from Bosnia and Herzegovina, with a particular emphasis on the soulful sounds of Sevdalinka, the musical vehicle for the expression of amorous longing and melancholy, passion and joy, with its roots in the days of the Ottoman Empire.

The band was formed in 2009 by a group of young students from the Sarajevo Music Academy who, with their contemporary instrumentation of brass, piano, bass and drums complimenting the traditional accordion and vocals, open up the Sephardic and Oriental elements of Sevdalinka to a new jazz sensibility, while the clear tones of singer Leila Catic deftly span the emotions between heartache and playfulness.

Personnel: Azur Imamovic – bass; Danijel Condric – guitar; Irfan Tahirovic – percussion; Ismar Poric – clarinet, saxophone; Leila Catic – vocals; Nedžad Mušovic – accordion; Neven Tunjic – piano; Rifet Camdžic – drums.

Discography:

Dert (Yaman, 2011)
Biljeske Iz Sestice (Multimedia Music, 2013)
Zukva (Multimedia Music, 2015)
Live in Mostar (Multimedia Music, 2017)
Kardes (Multimedia Music, 2018)

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Artist Profiles: Rubén Rada

Rubén Rada

Known to his many friends and fans simply as ‘Rada,’ Rubén Omár Rada Silva was born July 17, 1943 was born in Montevideo, Uruguay.

As a boy, he would sing for the ticket takers at the neighborhood movie theater. They allowed him to get in and he would learn the songs from the movies. When he was asked for more he ended up having to learn Mexican songs, tangos, all kinds of music.

Rada’s first professional experience was as a singer for a radio show doing cover songs and imitations of famous international singers. During carnival he would sing with the family’s comparsa Morenada during the Montevideo carnival. His nickname at that time was “Zapatito” (Little Shoe).

He was only thirteen when he met some young jazz musicians in a bus. It was the Fatorusso brothers. He was invited to join the Dixieland band where they played in, the Hot Blowers. Rada did impersonations of Louis Armstrong and other black singers. He stayed with them for seven years.

In 1964 he formed El Kinto. It was an innovative band that combined native candombe rhythms with influences from the Beatles, something known as candombe beat, with electric guitars, congas and other instruments. El Kinto wasn’t a moneymaker and hard times led Rada to seek fortune in Peru, where he was able to make a good living to support his family.

He also spent some time in Italy and Argentina. In Argentina he recorded his first solo album which included a national hit “Las Manzanas”. He also performed with one of the leading bands of the time, the Shakers. And he played a role in the musical “Hair.”

Rada finally returned to Uruguay where he found work as a singer and comedian. He also joined a band called Totem with whom he recorded 2 albums. It became one of Uruguay’s most popular bands combining candombe with melodic rock. Rada left the band after three years and recorded an album, S.O.S with Argentine musicians in Buenos Aires. After that he returned to his nomadic life touring throughout Europe with Benny Izaguirre.
Rada sent some his songs on cassette to the Fatorusso brothers who were then living in the United States, working with Brazilian jazz fusion musicians Airto Moreira and his wife Flora Purim. The Fatorussos also had a fusion band called Opa that many still consider one of South America’s best.

Hugo Fatorusso asked Rada to travel to the United States to participate in Opa’s second album, Magic Time. Rada was delighted because he was really impressed with the band. Magic Time combined Uruguayan afro-rhythms with jazz and rock and it was recorded in Spanish. Rada admits that this is one of the best musical works he has ever done.

When his visa expired, Rada moved to Argentina where he formed La Banda. He also recorded an album with the Fatorusso brothers who were back in South America under the name Otros Shakers. Osvaldo Fatorusso stayed in Uruguay collaborating with Rada and producing other artists. La Banda disbanded shortly after recording its first album. Rada formed a new band called La Rada. Even though it was formed by great musicians the band also split after the first album. That’s when Rada formed one of his most long-standing bands together with Ricardo Lew and Osvaldo Fatorusso. They recorded an album titled “En Familia” which Rada considers one of his best solo works. There was also a live album that Rada is not very proud of because it was not a good performance and some of the music is out of key.

Rubén Rada – Photo by Horatio Sbaraglia

From 1991 to 1995 Rada lived in Mexico. He worked on several projects while he was there. One of the top producers of hit pop songs for Mexico and Central America recorded an album under the title Rada Factory. The album never came out because of disagreements between the producer and the label.
Rada toured Spanish America and Europe as a member of Tania Libertad’s band. In 1994 he traveled to the United States to record an album titled Rada Music for Big World, an independent jazz and world music label. Hugo Fattoruso was involved as co-producer. Rada and his wife felt homesick so they moved back to Uruguay.
Since then he has been involved in numerous projects and recordings. Botijas Band with Rubén Rada features Rada collaborating with very young musicians. As a percussionist, Rada has few equals. He has had a dramatic effect on the evolution of modern candombe mixing it with many other musical styles and instruments not traditionally used within the genre.
Rada’s compositions are fresh and moving showing the influence of all his favoritesfrom Ray Charles to The Beatles Louis Armstrong to Carlos Gardel you’ll find them all in Rada’s gifted songs. His tunes show you he’s not afraid to experiment and approach different styles blending jazz world music funk pop tango rock and (of course) candombe. Rada is able to do practically anything with his voice from singing a soothing ballad to sounding like all his favorite characters from Uruguay’s carnival to mimicking the sounds of a trombone trumpet and other musical instruments to sounds that are simply beyond description.
In addition to his to his musicianship and skill as a composer Rada’s lyrics deliver a strong message from funny to serious from absurd to sarcastic. Rada started his own record label Zapatitodiscos, in 2002.

Discography:

S.O.S. (1974)
Magic Time” with Opa (Milestone 1977)
La Banda (198)
La Rada (1981)
En Familia (1982)
La Cosa se Pone Negra (1983)
Adar Nebur (1984)
La Yapla Mata (1986)
Siete Vidas (1987)
Pa´ Los Uruguayos (Melopea CDM 2 1989)
Las Aventuras de Ruben Rada y Litto Nebbia (Melopea CDMSE 53 199)
En Blanco y Negro – Las Aventuras de Fattoruso y Rada (Melopea, 1991)
Terapia de Murga (Melopea, 1991)
Concierto por la vida (1994)
Radeces (Ayua, CD)
Botijas Band (1996)
Montevideo (Big World 1997)
Montevideo 2 Miscelanea Negra (Ayui/Tacuabe, 1997)
Black (Negro) (Polygram)
Quien va a cantar (2000)
Alegre Caballero (Zapatito Discos Discos 2002)
Rubenra (Zapatito Discos 2004)
Candombe Jazz Tour (EMI 2005)
Richie Silver (EMI, 2006)
Varsovia, with Javier Malosetti (Zapatito Discos/Oday 2007)
Bailongo (S-Music 2008)
Fan (MMG 2009)
Confidence Rada Instrumental (S-Music, 2011)
Tango, milonga y candombe (MMG, 2015)

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Artist Profiles: Anoushka Shankar

Anoushka Shankar

Anoushka Shankar was born on June 9, 1981 in London, England. Anoushka is the daughter of the late Indian sitar master Ravi Shankar, and she is the first and only sitarist in the world trained completely by him.

Growing up in London, New Delhi and, later, Encinitas, California, Anoushka at first resisted the legacy of the sitar, a complex and ancient instrument with between 17 and 21 strings. Anoushka learned her first Indian songs and dances from her mother, Sukanya, and she became her father’s student at the age of nine. Her initial dislike of the specially built “baby sitar” on which she cut her musical teeth gave way to a love of the instrument and the music. She made her performing debut at age 13.

Ravi Shankar guided his daughter through her emergence as a performer and as a recording artist, writing and producing the five works she plays on Anoushka, her debut album. For Anourag, her second recording, Anoushka once again performed music written and produced by her father. This time, Ravi Shankar also joined Anoushka as performer.

When Ravi Shankar’s friend and protégé George Harrison first worked with Anoushka in 1997 — when she conducted on the Chants of India album — he saw that she had inherited not only her father’s virtuosity but also his musical soul. “Most people are musicians simply because they play a certain instrument when they play that instrument, the music appears,” Harrison said. “But Ravi — to me, he is the music; it just happens to be that he plays the sitar. And it’s like that with Anoushka. She just has that quality. She could play the banjo, and it wouldn’t matter – she is the music.”

The release of Anourag coincided with the extensive “Full Circle” tour of the United States, in which Anoushka and Ravi Shankar performed together in concert in celebration of Ravi’s 80th birthday and the 70th anniversary of the beginning of his career in music. On August 15th, India’s Independence Day, Anoushka performed alone in New York at Summerstage in Central Park. Throughout the tour, she shared the stage with her father, performing his Sitar Concerto No. 1 and conducting master classes.

Anourag continued the Shankar family’s extraordinary presence in the world of Indian classical music. The recording’s six tracks feature traditional ragas that reflect Ravi Shankar’s influence on both the composition and performance of sitar music. In his first new recording as performer in several years, Ravi Shankar joined Anoushka on “Pancham Se Gara,” the final track on Anourag. In addition to her father, Anoushka was joined on the recording by Bikram Gosh on tabla and mridangam, Tanmoy Bose on tabla.

After graduating from high school with high honors in 1999, Anoushka decided to delay her entry to college to tour the world once again with her father. Highlights of their 1999 schedule included performances together at London’s Barbican Theatre and at the Evian Festival in France, where Anoushka joined the world-renowned cellist Mstislav Rostropovich in playing the world premiere of a new work for cello and sitar by Ravi Shankar.

In 1998, the British Parliament presented Anoushka with a House of Commons Shield in recognition of her artistry and musicianship — at 17, she was the youngest as well as the sole female recipient of this honor. She toured extensively with Ravi throughout her cultural homeland of India, as well as Europe, Asia and the United States. In 1998, Anoushka played at Peter Gabriel’s WOMAD Festival in Seattle, at Carnegie Hall and in a special concert at New York’s Town Hall. Anoushka also joined her father in London in March 1997 for a historic performance of his Concerto No. 1 for Sitar and with Zubin Mehta conducting the London Symphony Orchestra.

Rise, Anoushka Shankar’s fourth album for Angel Records, marked a defining moment in the career of the young musician in 2005. Having previously recorded strictly in the classical tradition, Anoushka emerged as a potent creative force. “It’s very much my own music and my journey and who I am right now,” said Anoushka, who turned 24 in June of 2005 “I felt that on a personal level, Rise signifies growth.

Anoushka Shankar – Photo credit Simonyc

On Rise-which was composed, produced and arranged by Anoushka-she collaborated with a select crew of virtuoso Eastern and Western musicians wielding a variety of both acoustic and electronic instruments often engaging in unexpected ways to create tantalizing new sounds.

Having toured almost non-stop since her adolescence, in addition to attending school until her graduation from high school in 1999, Anoushka felt that she needed a break and elected to take 2004 off. But her vacation quickly became a working one as concepts were planted for the album that ultimately became Rise.


Anoushka Shankar – Rise

“I was going to go disappear for a while but wouldn’t you know it, I made an album,” she says “The sabbatical gave me the space to take risks. It was really an organic, natural experience. I was traveling from India to the States and meeting friends and adding people along the way. It was really beautiful.”

From the first notes of “Prayer In Passing,” which opens Rise, it becomes instantly clear that Anoushka is on to something inspiring and uncommon here. The track features Vishwa Mohan Bhatt, a renowned Indian slide guitarist alongside the flamenco-style piano of Ricardo Miño, Pedro Eustache’s bansuri flute and duduk (a Middle Eastern wind instrument) and Anoushka’s sitar. “This one’s very languid,” says Anoushka. “It’s just nice and dreamy-it’s set in a morning raga that’s very moody and simple. It was lovely to have so many different things that shouldn’t go together but seemed to flow really nicely.”

“Red Sun,” the second track, features Anoushka on keyboards and is highlighted by the percussive Indian “bol” vocalizing of Bikram Ghosh and Tanmoy Bose, her longtime tabla players. “We’ve always incorporated that into my shows when they play with me, and I definitely wanted to feature that-they’re improvising on that,” says Anoushka.

Anoushka performing live with her father, Ravi Shankar

“Mahadeva” is based on a four-line song by Ravi Shankar that was re-composed and arranged by Anoushka. “He never developed it into a piece of music,” Anoushka explains. “It was just something that I sang as a kid and it came into my head while we were in Calcutta recording. It started developing into a really strong rhythmic, dark-feeling track, which I was really excited about. Mahadeva is another name for Shiva, and one aspect of Shiva is that he’s the destroyer. This sort of brings out that feeling of anger and insanity.

“Naked” turns the mood around completely-Anoushka, all alone, on sitar and keyboards. “It was a very conscious decision to add a little pretty track with sitar being the focus,” she says. “We’d gone very mysterious and heavy and it seemed nice to have something light.”

“Solea” was co-written by Anoushka and pianist Ricardo Miño. The luminous background sounds, Anoushka explains, were all created on the piano. “I’m holding the piano strings muted while he’s playing one of the other background synth sounds. It was really creative and fun for me, and very physical, too, because of the rhythm, the flamenco approach.”

The album’s other sitar-less track, “‘Beloved,'” says Anoushka, “was my first experience writing lyrics from scratch and fitting it to a melody. It was flute-focused and I thought it would be nice to have it be about Krishna because he’s always associated with the flute. The lyrics are from the viewpoint of Radha, who’s his eternal lover. She’s searching for him everywhere and then she understands that the reason she hasn’t been able to find him is because she’s not looking within herself.”

The intriguingly titled “Sinister Grains,” like “Prayer In Passing,” is another instance where Anoushka juxtaposed seemingly incongruous ingredients, here using Indian shehnai and vocals, didjeridoo, South American vocal percussion, bass and electronic elements, including her sitar which was fed through a filter to create some of the track’s ambient effects. “It’s just a funky little mysterious track,” she says. “The song is in a Sufi-sort of mood where he’s talking about the pain of living, and the music is also very moody.”

Anoushka compares “Voice Of The Moon,” which matches the Western cello and violin to the Eastern sitar, tabla and santoor, to her father’s collaborations with the late violinist Yehudi Menuhin. “It’s very much composed within an Indian raga yet the fact that the cello is there gives it a smoothness,” she says. The Indian percussion is amended with an electronic HandSonic drum pad as well, “to give it a little more depth,” Anoushka explains.

Anoushka Shankar

Finally, “Ancient Love,” the longest track on Rise is “my favorite one by far,” says Anoushka. “This is the one closest to my heart. It was also the easiest track because it constantly flowed. Every time someone added to this track, it would get more beautiful. We ended up taking out a lot, too, to retain a bit of simplicity. It’s got a nice mix of the electronics and several flavors.”

The sequencing of the tracks on Rise, adds Anoushka, is hardly random. “Each one is in a certain raga, and it flows from morning to evening through the course of the album, which is a pretty unique feature. It’s not something that happens very often or that can be made to work, but if you do believe that ragas have moods and have significance it does enhance the overall flow.”

In 2007, Anoushka collaborated with world music innovator Karsh Kale, combining Indian classical music with electronica and other influences.

Anoushka Shankar – Home – Anoushka Shankar

After releasing several experimental, fusion and crossover albums, Anoushka released Home in 2015. It’s a pure Indian classical album that showcases the meditative and virtuosic qualities of the Indian raga. Home includes two ragas, one of which is a creation of Ravi Shankar’s.

Anoushka Shankar – Land Of Gold

Land of Gold (2016) is Anoushka Shankar’s whole-hearted response to the trauma and injustice experienced by refugees and victims of war. The music was inspired by recent news images of people fleeing civil war, oppression, poverty and agonizing hardship. “The seeds of Land of Gold originated in the context of the humanitarian plight of refugees,” Anoushka recalls. “It coincided with the time when I had recently given birth to my second child. I was deeply troubled by the intense contrast between my ability to provide for my baby, and others who desperately wanted to provide the same security for their children but were unable to do so.”

Hang virtuoso and co-writer of many of the album’s ten pieces Manu Delago joined Anoushka Shankar. Other guests included Sanjeev Shankar, a master of the spellbinding Indian reed instrument, the shehnai, who studied with Anoushka’s father Ravi Shankar.

Land of Gold also includes guest appearances by singer-songwriter Alev Lenz, jazz bassist Larry Grenadier, dancer Akram Khan, cellist Caroline Dale, rapper and refugee advocate M.I.A., and actress and political activist Vanessa Redgrave. All-girl children’s choir Girls for Equality makes its debut on the album’s closing song, “Reunion.”

Everyone is, in some way or another, searching for their own “Land of Gold”: a journey to a place of security, connectedness and tranquility, which they can call home,” said Anoushka. “This journey also represents the interior quest that we all take to find a sense of inner peace, truth and acceptance – a universal desire that unites humanity.”

“My instrument,” comments Anoushka, “is the terrain in which I explore the gamut of emotional expression – evoking shades of aggression, anger and tenderness, while incorporating elements of classical minimalism, jazz, electronica and Indian classical styles.”

In 2019, Anoushka Shankar released Reflections, a compilation featuring including Anoushka’s favorite tracks, with pieces from Land of Gold, Traces of You, Rise and other albums.

Discography:

Anoushka (Angel Records, 1998)
Anourag (Angel Records, 2000)
Live at Carnegie Hall (Angel Records, 2001)
Rise (Angel Records, 2005)
Breathing Under Water, with Karsh Kale (Manhattan Records, 2007)
Traveller (Deutsche Grammophon, 2011)
Traces of You (Deutsche Grammophon, 2013)
Home (Deutsche Grammophon, 2015)
Ravi & Anoushka Shankar Live In Bangalore, 2 CD + DVD (East Meets West, 2015)
Land of Gold (Deutsche Grammophon, 2016)
Reflections (Deutsche Grammophon, 2019)

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Artist Profiles: Maeve MacKinnon

Maeve MacKinnon

Maeve Mackinnon is one of Scotland’s foremost young Gaelic and Scots singers. A versatile singer, she studied Gaelic song at RSAMD and maintained a deep interest in Scots and Irish folk song and bluegrass.

Her dynamic vocals and warm stage presence have led to her being invited to broadcast numerous times on national radio and in several Gaelic music TV series; most recently Bob Kenyon’s current Gaelic music series, Guthan nan Gaidheal (STV, 2006).

Maeve is currently finishing off her debut solo album, produced by Duncan Lyall (Croft No.5) and Ali Hutton (Back of the Moon). Comprised of Gaelic and folk songs from different areas and with a distinctive groove throughout, Maeve’s debut album was released on Footstompin Records.

Discography:

Don’t Sing Lovesongs (Footstompin Records, 2007)
Once Upon an Olive Branch (2012)

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Artist Profiles: John Carty

John Carty

Born in London, England and now residing in Co. Roscommon, Ireland, John plays in the Roscommon and Sligo styles of his family roots. He was named Traditional Musician of the Year for 2003 by Irish Television TG4. He has released a number of well-regarded albums and also plays with his band At the Racket.

Discography:

The Cat That Ate The Candle (Cló Iar-Chonnachta, 1994)
Last Night’s Fun (Shanachie, 1996)
Yeh That’s All It Is (Shanachie, 2001)
At It Again (Shanachie, 2003)
I Will If I Can (Racket Records, 2005)
Upon My Soul (2006)
Pathway To the Well (Racket Records, 2007)
On the Fly, with Patrick Street (2007)
It’s Not Racket Science – At the Racket (2008)
Meadbh (The Crimson Path), with Ann Joyce (Racket Records, 2010)
At Complete Ease, with Brian Rooney (Racket Records, 2011)
The Good Mixer (Racket Records, 2015)

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Artist Profiles: Dick Gaughan

Dick Gaughan – Photo by Genia Ainsworth

Dick Gaughan Dick Gaughan has been a professional musician and singer since 1970 and made his first solo album in 1971. Working mainly in the areas now known as Folk or Celtic music, he has recorded quite extensively since then in many countries and in various combinations. Has also worked extensively as a session musician in a wide variety of musical styles.

Having very eclectic tastes, he also plays everything from free jazz and rock to country music and has studied orchestration to develop his compositional and midi programming skills. He plays most fretted stringed instruments but his natural instrument is acoustic guitar. With 28 recordings to his credit, including the seminal Handful of Earth (1981), A Different Kind Of Love Song (1983) and Redwood Cathedral (1998) Gaughan remains a powerful force in the world of contemporary and traditional music and song.

Dick Gaughan was born in Glasgow in 1948 – he was an accidental Glaswegian, because his father was temporarily working as an engine driver at Colville’s Steelworks there. Dick really belonged to Leith, the one-time thriving port on the Firth of Forth now absorbed by Edinburgh, where his parents returned after a short while.

His mother, Frances MacDonald, was from Lochaber, and her first language was Gaelic. With the language came the Gaelic songs – as a child she had won a silver medal at the National Mod of An Comunn Gaidhealach, the annual Gaelic festival in Scotland. Dick’s father – also Dick – was born in Leith of an Irish father who spoke the Irish version version of Gaelic and played the fiddle. Dick’s grandmother, Bridget, born in Glasgow of Irish parents, played accordion and also sang.

It’s not surprising that Dick Gaughan picked up a guitar at the age of seven. As a teenager, growing up with guitar skills in an urban environment in the Sixties, he dabbled with rock, country and blues. It was a fabulous time for music-making, when no holds were barred. But for him, increasingly the music and the politics began to come together. Rock may have been an angry outpouring of sound, but it was on the quieter folk scene, with the great Hamish Henderson, Ewan MacColl, Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger all leading the protest march, that the most penetrating and persuasive statements were being made about war and peace, about the state of society. Dick was soon in the thick of the burgeoning folk revival, and at the age of 22 decided to hit the road as a solo singer and guitarist.

By 1972, he had replaced Mike Whellans in the outstanding all-acoustic, Scots-Irish band the Boys of the Lough, that included the great Aly Bain on fiddle, and appeared on their first album. He left the Boys in the following year.

His own first album, No More Forever, issued in 1972, was well received. Few could have expected his next move – joining fiddler Chuck Fleming and others in a wild and often wonderful electric band called Five Hand Reel, whose rocking rhythms and great songs – including Dick’s irresistible stab at the Gaelic lines of Bratach Bana – exasperated the purists and found a newer, younger audience. He was out of it by 1978 and returned to solo work.

In 1981 he laid down his marker as one of the great voices of contemporary Scotland with Handful of Earth. With Ed Pickford’s Workers’ Song and Leon Rosselson’s World Turned Upside Down – about the Diggers’ revolt that reminded Dick that “the first colony of the British Empire was England” – Dick Gaughan became a fully-fledged troublemaker of song. But alongside these polemical eruptions were softer, ruminative pieces such as Phil Colclough’s achingly wistful Song for Ireland, Robert Burns’ Westlin’ Winds, and a reworked version of Both Sides the Tweed, which served to express Dick’s abhorrence of anti-English sentiment in pursuit of the rightful cause of Scottish self-belief. A poll conducted by the magazine Folk Roots voted Handful of Earth the top album of the 1980s.

In 2004, Dick was voted Scots Singer of the Year in the Scottish Traditional Music Awards.

In 2016, Dick Gaughan had a stroke and stopped performing.

Discography:

No More Forever (Trailer, 1972)
Kist o’ Gold (Trailer, 1976)
Coppers and Brass (Topic, 1977)
Gaughan (Topic, 1978)
Handful of Earth (Topic, 1981)
A Different Kind of Love Song (Celtic Music, 1983)
Live in Edinburgh (Celtic Music, 1985)
True and Bold: Songs of the Scottish Miners (STUC, 1986)
Call It Freedom (Celtic Music, 1988)
Sail On (Greentrax, 1996)
Redwood Cathedral (Greentrax, 1998)
Outlaws and Dreamers (Greentrax, 2001)
Prentice Piece (Greentrax, 2002)
The Definitive Collection (High Point, 2006)
Lucky for Some (Greentrax, 2006)
Gaughan Live! at the Trades Club (Greentrax, 2008)

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