Category Archives: Artist Profiles

Artist Profiles: Rura

Rura in 2019

Rura is a multi award-winning act contemporary Scottish folk music band. Their compellingly fiery, rugged yet refined and progressive instrumentals on fiddle, Highland pipes, flute, guitar, keyboards and bodhran has placed them firmly at the forefront of 21st century Scottish folk.

Jack Smedley (fiddle), Steven Blake (pipes and whistles), David Foley (bodhrán and flute) and Adam Brown (guitar) perform captivating, euphoric live shows have been a main stage highlight of many of the world’s leading folk festivals – including Cambridge, Tønder, Woodford, Winnipeg, Vancouver and HebCelt, among countless others across more than 20 countries.

Break it up was the band’s debut album, released in 2012. It was followed by Despite the dark (2015) and In Praise of home (2018), an instrumental album featuring original compositions by Rura.


Break it up (Greentrax Recordings, 2012)
Despite the dark (2015)
In Praise of home (Alba, 2018)


Artist Profiles: Sinafi Trio


Sinafi was founded by three Greek female musicians who met in Istanbul, Turkey. The trio includes Fotini Kokkala on qanun; Marina Liontou on ud; and Elena Mudiri Hasiotou on vocals and percussion.

The trio sings stories of exile, separation, love, and joy in Turkish, Greek, Azerbaijani, Armenian, Kurdish and Syriac languages. Sinafi’s influences come from Cappadocia, Thrace, the Aegean sea and urban Istanbul as well.

The group released its debut album, “Iho” in 2019.


Iho (Kalan, 2019)


Artist Profiles: Leyla McCalla

Leyla McCalla in 2016 – Photo by Sarrah Danziger

Leyla McCalla is a Haitian-American artist born on October 3, 1985 in New York City, United States.

Leyla sings in French, Haitian Creole and English, and plays cello, tenor banjo and guitar. Deeply influenced by traditional Creole, Cajun and Haitian music, as well as by American jazz and folk.

She studied cello performance and chamber music at New York University. In 2010 she moved to New Orleans. where she hone

From 2011 to 2013, McCalla was a member of the celebrated stringband Carolina Chocolate Drops. She later left to start a solo career.

In 2016, she released ‘A Day For The Hunter, A Day For The Prey’

In 2017, McCalla toured with her New Orleans-based trio that also included her Quebecois husband Daniel Tremblay on guitar, banjo, and iron triangle; and Free Feral on vocals and guitar.

In 2019 she formed Our Native Daughters. that same year she formed the Leyla McCalla Quartet that included Dave Hammer on electric guitar; Shawn Myers on drums and percussion; and Pete Olynciw on electric and acoustic bass.

Leyla McCalla’s third album, ‘The Capitalist Blues,’ contains a collection of protest songs. Leyla recorded the album in New Orleans. The Capitalist Blues includes jazz, folk, Cajun, Zydeco, rock, and a considerable Haitian influence. Leyla sings on the album in English and in Haitian Kreyol. She also collaborated with Haitian collective Lakou Mizik, who recorded on the album while they were visiting New Orleans to perform at the Jazz and Heritage Festival.


Leaving Eden, with Carolina Chocolate Drops (Nonesuch, 2012)
Vari-Colored Songs: A Tribute to Langston Hughes (Music Maker, 2014)
A Day for the Hunter, A Day for the Prey (Jazz Village, 2016)
Recorded Live at the 2016 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival (Munck Music, 2016)
Recorded Live at the 2017 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival (Munck Music, 2017)
Recorded Live at the 2018 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival (Munck Music, 2018)
Capitalist Blues (Jazz Village, 2019)
Songs of Our Native Daughters (Smithsonian Folkways, 2019)


Artist Profiles: Bozhychi


Ukrainian folk ensemble Bozhychi was formed on January 7, 1999 The name of the group Bozhychi comes from the name of the pre-Christian God, which the Slavs called Bozhycha, who was the god of youth and caroling.

The ensemble performs authentic, ancient songs and dance-instrumental traditions, parts of which were preserved in the villages and farms of Ukraine, all of which are dying off with catastrophic speed. The main direction of activity of the ensemble- the scientific study of the Ukrainian village and the method of recording authentic folklore samples. The main focus over the past four years has been collection trips made on canoe expeditions along the rivers of Ukraine.

For the right to receive nationally funded, organizational help for the activities of young folklorists of Ukraine, members of the ensemble started the initial creation of The All Ukrainian Association of Young Ethnomusicologists. The ensemble actively works in association with the Ukrainian Parliament in the areas of youth politics, physical education, sports and tourism, in the name of the State Committee, and the Ministry of Ukrainian Transport.

In May 2002 in an associated project with the Center for Modern Art Dakh, Bozhychi performed their theater piece U Poshukakh Vtrachenoho Chasu (In Search of Lost Time) at the Wienner Festwochen festival in Vienna, Austria. At this festival, Bozhychi-Dakh received the theater grand prize Pektoral 21 for the best chamber theater piece, and as well the grand prize from the theater critics of Kyivan Rakhunok for the best theater piece of the year. In July 2003 Bozhychi performed their theater piece in Hungary, on theater festival in Capolch.

In 2005 the Group created own Theatre Perfomance ?Life Circle?, founded on Ukrainian traditions, songs and dances.

Since January 2001 Bozhychi initiated social advertising campaign that is called ‘Don’t let break off the ancestors’ voice! Musicians call to feel inside of every person the voice of the ancestors, to make free own consciousness from the influence of TV and pop culture and other reasons that litter human’s brain.

Since 1999 Bozhychi has become the most advanced and successful Ukrainian folk group. Discography contains 5 audio albums, 1 DVD book on Ukrainian traditional dances with CD (2 in 1).


Illya Fetisov – Chief, vocal, harmon, venka,
Susanna Karpenko – vocal, tambourine
Iryna Borysenko – vocal, tambourine
Maria Kudriavtseva – vocal
Hanna Arhipchuk – vocal
Valery Gladunets – vocal
Olga Karapata – vocal.


Rolled, oh, the clear star from the sky – Kotylasia, oy, yasna zoria z neba (2004)

From Kyiv to Jerusalem. Koliada Songs – Scho z Kyeva ta y do Rusaluma. Koliadnytski pisni (2005)

To Love Forever Is Not Enough. Songs About Love (2007)

Ukrainian Folk Dance. Part 1 (2009)

Psal’mas. Pomyshliayte, Chelovetsy (2009)


Artist Profiles: Nachyn Choreve

Nachyn Choreve

Nachyn Choreve was born in Tuva, a part of the Russian Federation. He is a soloist in the Tuvan State Philharmonic and founding member of Tuvan rock band Hartyga.

Nachyn stated touring as a professional musician at the age of 16.

Nachyn and his colleagues Salchak Orlan, Ondar Angyr-ool, Sergek Sandyk and Naiys Dulush enrolled in the Chyrgal-Ool Art College in Kyzyl in 2002. In the evenings and after their more traditional lessons, they got together and combined rock and jazz with Tuvan traditional music.

The group was initially called Iom, but later changed its name to Hartyga. As a member of Hartyga, Nachyn has collaborated with musicians throughout the world.

In 2020 he toured the United States as part of the Sounds of Siberia project together with Yakut khomus (jaw harp) master and throat singer Yuliyana Krivoshapkina.

Nachyn Choreve is a throat singer and also plays igil and doshpuluur.


Agitator (Sketis Music, 2018)


Artist Profiles: Yuliyana Krivoshapkina

Yuliyana Krivoshapkina

Yuliyana Krivoshapkina was born in Yakutia, also known as the Sakha Republic in northeastern Siberia, part of the Russian Federation.

Yuliyana is one of the finest performers of the khomus, which is the national instrument of the Yakut people. The khomus is a type of jaw harp that is traditionally used by shamans in Yakutia as a healing instrument. Yuliyana’s proficiency allows her to play around three octaves. The khomus is positioned in the musician’s mouth and plucked with the fingers to generate a sound that has a magnificently wide range and volume.

At the age of 7, Yuliyana obtained her grandmother’s khomus and her mother showed it how to play it. In 1991, the breakup of the Soviet Union, traditional customs s came back.

Yuliana went to college to learn music. She returned to the khomus whe she met her teacher, Albina Degtyarova. Albina is an eminent teacher and advocate of khomus music. She directed Yiliyana’s musical education and ecouraged her to become a member of Ayarkhaan, an award-winning Yakut vocal and khomus trio.

Albina also introduced Yuliyana to the throat-singing made 2400 kilometers (1,500 miles) south in the Republic of Tuva, also part of the Russian Federation.

Yuliyana won in the Ethnic Sound category at the Discovery International Music Pop Festival in Varna, Bulgaria. She has performed throughout Asia, Europe and the United States of America.

In 2019, Yuliyana joined celebrated Tuvan throat singers Chirgilchin on her first US tour. The involvement in this tour lead to the birth of a new project, Sounds of Siberia that brings together the traditional music of Sakha and Tuva.

Sounds of Siberia features Yuliyana on khomus and throat singing and Tuvan musician Nachyn Choreve (a member of Hartyga) on throat singing and string instruments.


Artist Profiles: Fairport Convention

Fairport Convention in 2019

Fairport Convention is an influential English folk rock and electric folk band. The group was created in 1967 and is widely regarded as the most important act in the English folk rock movement.

The group was started by bassist Ashley Hutchings and guitarist Simon Nicol who played in the Ethnic Shuffle Orchestra. They started Fairport Convention along with Richard Thompson on guitar and Shaun Frater on drums. Frater was soon replaced by Martin Lamble. Judy Dyble became their lead singer.

Early lineup of Fairport Convention

Folk singer Sandy Denny, who had recorded with Strawbs, replaced Judy in 1968. She recorded three albums with Fairport Convention; What We Did on Our Holidays (1969), Unhalfbricking (1969), and Liege & Lief (1969). Sandy left the band in late 1969 although she returned in 1974 for another two years.

The essential Fairport Convention album Liege & Lief is considered to have launched the electric folk or English folk rock movement which provided a distinctively English identity to rock music and helped awaken much wider interest in traditional music in general.

The large number of musicians and singer-songwriters who have been part of the band are among the most highly regarded and influential musicians of their era and have gone on to participate in a large number of important bands or enjoyed important solo careers.

Since 1979 Fairport Convention has hosted the Cropredy Festival which is the largest such annual event in England.

Individually and collectively the members of Fairport Convention have received numerous awards recognizing their contribution to music and culture.

The group is still active and continues to record and tour.

The lineup in 2019 included Simon Nicol on guitar and vocals; Dave Pegg on bass; Chris Leslie on fiddle, mandolin and vocals; Ric Sanders on violin; and Gerry Conway on drums and percussion.


Fairport Convention (1968)
What We Did on Our Holidays (1969)
Unhalfbricking (1969)
Liege & Lief f (1969)
Full House (197)
Angel Delight (1971)
Babbacombe Lee (1971)
Rosie (1973)
Nine (1973)
Rising for the Moon (1975)
Gottle OGeer (1976)
The Bonny Bunch of Roses (1977)
Tipplers Tales (1978)
Gladys Leap (1985)
Expletive Delighted! (1986)
Red & Gold (1989)
The Five Seasons (1990)
Jewel in the Crown (1995)
Old New Borrowed Blue (1996)
Who Knows Where the Time Goes? (1997)
The Wood and the Wire (1999)
XXXV (2002)
Over the Next Hill (2004)
Sense of Occasion (2007)
Festival Bell (2011)
By Popular Request (2012)
Myths and Heroes (Matty Grooves, 2015)


Artist Profiles: Elba Ramalho

Elba Ramalho

Elba Ramalho was born on August 17, 1951 in Conceição, in the state of Paraíba, Brazil. Elba began to get involved with performing arts influenced by her father, a musician. Growing up in northeastern Brazil, she soon learned rhythms such as baião, maracatu, xote, frevo, pastoril, caboclinhos and forró, all very popular and traditional in that region.

Elba Ramalho began her musical career playing drums in the all-female ensemble “As Brasas.”

Elba is one of the greatest artists of Brazil. Her shows cover all audiences in large theaters, arenas, jazz festivals, forró festivals, carnivals, and rock festivals.

She has won various Latin Grammys and Awards of Brazilian Music.


Ave de prata (Epic, 1979)
Capim do vale (Epic, 1980)
Elba (Epic, 1981)
Alegria (Ariola, 1982)
Coração brasileiro (Ariola, 1983)
Fogo na mistura (Ariola, 1984)
Do jeito que a gente gosta (Ariola, 1985)
Remexer (Ariola, 1986)
Elba (Ariola, 1987)
Fruto (Ariola, 1988)
Popular brasileira (Ariola, 1989)
Ao vivo (Ariola, 1990)
Felicidade urgente (Ariola, 1991)
Encanto (Ariola, 1992)
Devora-me (Ariola, 1993)
Paisagem (BMG, 1995)
Leão do Norte (BMG, 1996)
Grande encontro (BMG, 1996)
Grande encontro 2 (BMG, 1997)
Baioque, RCA, 1997)
Flor da Paraíba (BMG, 1998)
Solar (BMG , 1999)
O grande encontro 3 (BMG, 2000)
Cirandeira (BMG, 2001)
Elba canta Luiz (BMG, 2002)
Elba ao vivo (BMG, 2003)
Elba e Dominguinhos ao vivo (BMG, 2005)
Qual o Assunto Que Mais Lhe Interessa? (Ramax, 2007)
Balaio de Amor (Biscoito Fino, 2009)
Marco Zero Ao Vivo (Biscoito Fino, 2010)
Vambora Lá Dançar ‎(Sala De Som Records, 2013)
Do Meu Olhar Pra Fora ‎(Coqueiro Verde, 2015)
Cordas, Gonzaga E Afins ‎(Coqueiro Verde, 2015)
O Grande Encontro 20 Anos (Sony Music, 2016)
O Ouro Do Pó Da Estrada (Deck, 2019)


Artist Profiles: AfroCubism

Eliades Ochoa with Afrocubism in Raleigh, 2012 – photo by Angel Romero

AfroCubism was an ensemble of up to 14 master musicians from West Africa and Cuba brought together by the producer of Buena Vista Social Club.

The group included Eliades Ochoa (Cuba), guitarist and Buena Vista Social Club star; kora maestro Toumani Diabaté (Msali); legendary guitarist Djelimady Tounkara (Mali); balafon wizard Fode Lassana Diabaté (Guinea); ngoni virtuoso Bassekou Kouyate (Mali); José Ángel Martínez on acoustic bass (Cuba); Jorge Maturell (Cuba) on congas, bongos, cowbell; Onsel Odit (Cuba) on backing vocals and rhythm guitar; and Eglis Ochoa (Cuba) on maracas, güiro, backing vocals.


The ensemble released the album AfroCubism in 2010 on World Circuit Records.


Artist Profiles: Verd E Blu

Verd E Blu

Verd E Blu is a traditional Occitan from Gascony, France, formed in 1987. The group plays three hole whistle and string tambourine (ton-ton), bagpipes from the Landes (boha), diatonic accordions, brama-topin friction drum, tricanetas castanets and vocals.

For over twenty years they collected, learned, produced and spread the traditional music and dance of the Gascon province of France, in all its wealth and diversity.

Much of their time is spent training dancers and musicians.

Most of their repertoire is traditional but a third of the pieces are original. This mix corresponds to a choice: to intertwine tradition and modernism.

Band members included Joan-Francés Tisner on vocals, diatonic accordions, percussion; Crestian Josuèr on three hole whistle and string tambourine, diatonic accordions; and Marc Castanet on bagpipes and diatonic accordions.

Verd E Blu

The lineup in 2015 featured Lionel Dubertrand who replaced Crestian Josuèr. Dubetrand provided vocals, dance, Gascon bagpipe and percussion.


Musicas de Gasconha (Menestrèrs Gascons, 1991)
Musicas a dançar (Menestrèrs Gascons, 1993)
Ompra o só? (Menestrèrs Gascons, 1996)
Musicas a dançar: dus (Menestrèrs Gascons, 2001)
Baladas e danças (Menestrèrs Gascons, 2005)
Jòcs de Dança (Menestrèrs Gascons, 2010)