Category Archives: Artist Profiles

Artist Profiles: Achilla Orru Apaa-Idomo

Achilla Orru Apaa-Idomo was considered by some the master of the lokembe (also spelled lukembe), known as kalimba or thumb piano in the West). The lokembe is an instrument from Achilla Orru Apaa-Idomo’s homeland, Uganda.

King Achilla’s music combined elements of South Africa’s township jive, Congolese soukous, West African pop, and the distinctive sound of Uganda. Achilla was based in Canada and usually accompanied by some of the best musicians in Toronto, who over the years were members of Baana Afrique.

Achilla remained true to his roots, perfecting the fine art of tuning and playing the lokembe to sound like a string instrument. His plucking of the lokembe was unique and sets him apart from other musicians that play the instrument, hence, earning him the title, King Achilla Orru Apaa-Idomo.

Achilla Orru Apaa-Idomo passed away on February 4, 2013 at the age of 53.

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Artist Profiles: Abu Araki al-Bakheit

Abu Araki al-Bakheit
Abu Araki al-Bakheit

Abu Araki al-Bakheit is a musical giant who emerged during the latter years of Sudanese music’s golden era. With his fabulously smooth and supple voice, Abu Araki reached a pinnacle of success in the late 1970s, a time of blooming creativity in Sudanese performance arts. Two decades later, he ran afoul of Islamist authorities who banned his music, arrested him, and forbade him from singing at public events. When he responded by saying he would not sing at all, the public outcry was so great that he was forced to relent. Today, he stands both as a grand figure of Sudanese song, as well as a brave and principled example of artistic resistance during one of the most oppressive periods of Sudan?s modern history.

Abu Araki was born in Wad Madany ?Sudan, the capital of Aljazeera State, a center of agriculture in the country. As a boy, he endured the hard life of a traditional, rural farming family. The family later moved to Omdurman, home of Sudan?s influential radio and television station, and there he received inspiration from Islamic religious practices. “I joined a Khalwa,” he recalls, “a religious house in which young kids like myself used to learn the Quran. My first day there was scary especially when the young people shouted while reading the Quran. The variety of voices helped me later on to understand the variety of a large orchestra, and to understand complicated theories such as harmony and counterpoint.”

After graduating from the Institute of Music and Drama in 1978, Abu Araki emerged as a popular young singer on Sudanese radio, and was soon performing at wedding parties as well as festivals in and out of Sudan.

After the rise of Sudan’s Islamist government in 1989, Abu Araki, like many Sudanese artists, had difficulty working, in part because of the strong social content of his song lyrics. He made some of his most important recordings in Egypt, working with Yousif el Mosley, maestro for Hassad Music, the most prolific record label for Sudanese music ever. Meanwhile in Sudan, Abu Araki recalls, “I wasn’t able to perform my songs in the theaters because of the powerful words they have, and also because of the enthusiasm my fans felt about these songs. I had many difficulties, but I was able to overcome them.”

Ever since, Abu Araki has engaged in a delicate dance, remaining true to his musical and social principles, satisfying his loyal audience, and risking the wrath of suspicious authorities. In recent years, he has increasingly performed for Sudanese diaspora communities around the world, including in the United States. He says he has not been able to record his newer songs “the way I want to,” and very much hopes that his work in the United States will allow him to do so in the near future.

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Artist Profiles: Abrasevic-Valjevo

Abrashevich folk dance company was founded in Valjevo, Serbia, in 1905, and at the same time in Belgrade, Kragujevac and few other Serbian cities, and is the oldest and one of the most unique folkloric troops in Eastern Europe. The organization is composed out of school, conservatory and performing ensemble. It has trained thousands of young Serbs in the colorful traditions of South Slavic dance and music heritage. Many generations of young dancers, singers and instrumentalists have been trained by its remarkable staff and have gone on to distinguish themselves with leading theater and dance ensembles and orchestras, throughout the world.

Named after the famous Serbian poet Kosta Abrashevich this vital association of young artists consists of several separate divisions including folkloric song and dance, choral, orchestral as well as theater. Children are eligible for enrollment at the age of four years, and by the age of seven are performing with the brilliance and skill of veterans.

Featuring 60 magnificent young dancers, singers and musicians, ranging from the age of 8 to 25 years, attired in more than thousands costumes, the Abrashevich folk dance company presents fast moving, colorful spectacle of Balkan song and dances in a manner that seems to defy the laws the gravity, speed and sound. The company includes children Dance Ensemble, Youth Dance Ensemble, and Veterans, as well as Youth Orchestra. They have won Gold Medals and First Prizes at international Folk and Arts Festivals.

abrasevic-valjevo.org

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Artist Profiles: Aboubacar Camara

Aboubacar Camara
Aboubacar Camara

Steeped in the drumming and dance of his native Guinea from childhood, Aboubacar Camara was tapped for ballet training at the age of 9, and in 1986, was invited to join the National Ballet Soleil d’Afrique de Guinea.

He became lead dancer and assistant choreographer with his native troupe, touring throughout Guinea, Mali, Sierra Leone, the Ivory Coast and Europe. He came to the attention of Juno award-winning Alpha Yaya Diallo, joining Diallo’s group in Canada as a dancer, choreographer, and musician.

Soon, Aboubacar was performing locally and nationally at folk, native, and jazz festivals, and conducting classes and workshops. Now the leader of his own group, Doundounba Music & Dance, an ensemble of musicians that performs both traditional and afro-pop music, Aboubacar uses his childhood legacy, extensive training and vibrant music making to move people of all ages to stand up, dance, and sing along.

Discography:

Telephone

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Artist Profiles: Abiogenesis

Abiogenesis
Abiogenesis

Abiogenesis, from Nagaland in India, is an experimental band and they have developed a new world genre which they have named ‘Howey Music’. Howey is a fusion of Naga Folk tunes with modern music. They also play a new wind musical instrument made of bamboo invented by Moa Subong, a member of the band.

Abiogenesis are:

Arenla Subong: vocals, bamhum
Moa Subong: bamhum, guitar, harmonica
Imli Subong: drums, percussion
Paul: bass
Longden: guitar

Discography:

Aeon Spell (Saregama, 2007)
Rustic Relish (APH Records)
Slice of Heaven (APH Records)
Legacy Of The Mountains (Mondo Tunes)

Official Web Site: www.abiogenesis.altpro.net

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Artist Profiles: Abigail Washburn

Abigail Washburn
Abigail Washburn

Abigail Washburn’s soulful singing was one of the signature sounds of Uncle Earl since she joined in May 2003. Signed to Nettwerk Records as a solo recording artist, her album Song of the Traveling Daughter was released in August, 2005. The album features original songs in English and Mandarin Chinese, which she speaks. Actually, Abby was headed down a career path in Sino-American relations when she heard an LP of Doc Watson and decided to take up old-time banjo.

She met KC Groves at the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) in Louisville, Kentucky and joined the band that summer. Combining her love of traditional American music, Chinese language and classical Chinese poetry, she began writing songs, some of which happen to be in Chinese. Her writing earned her a second place award in the Chris Austin Songwriting Contest at MerleFest in 2004.

In 2012, after attending Doc Watson’s funeral, Abigail began performing “And Am I Born to Die,” a sacred harp piece recorded by Watson. “Doc is one of the main reasons I play the banjo and sing American old-time music,” says Washburn.

Along with 24 innovative and creative thinkers from across the world, Abigail Washburn was named a TED Fellow and presented at the 2012 Ted Convention about building United States-China relations through music. Her efforts to share American music in China, and Chinese music in the Unied States exist within a hope that cultural understanding and the communal experience of music will lead the way to a richer existence.

In 2014, Béla Fleck and Abigail Washburn released their eponymous debut album October 7th on Rounder Records. Béla Fleck & Abigail Washburn is a front porch banjo and vocal album of new music, Appalachian murder ballads, gospel, chamber and blues; the culmination of a yearlong tour as a duo in 2013, following the birth of their son, Juno.

Discography:

She Waits for Night, with Uncle Earl (Rounder Records, 2005)

Song of the Traveling Daughter (Nettwerk Records, 2005)

The Sparrow Quartet EP (Nettwerk Records, 2006)

Waterloo, Tennessee, with Uncle Earl (Rounder Records, 2007)

Abigail Washburn & The Sparrow Quartet (Nettwerk Records, 2008)

Afterquake, with Shanghai Restoration Project (Afterquake Music, 2009)

City of Refuge (Rounder Records, 2011)

Béla Fleck & Abigail Washburn (Rounder Records, 2014)

Banjo Banjo EP, with Béla Fleck (Rounder Records, 2015)

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Artist Profiles: Abida Parveen

Abida Parveen
Abida Parveen
Abida Parveen, the queen of Sufi mystic singing spreads the message of love and induces a state of spiritual ecstasy with her Sufi mystic songs. An artist who has been recognized as a rue force in the realm of Sufi music, she proclaims her faith with her entire body. She is considered one of the most prominent contemporary exponents of the great ghazal and kafi musical styles from the Indian subcontinent. Rooted in the intense encounter between sensitivity and spirituality that is Sufism. She never ceases to sing her fiery love for the Divine.

The earliest memories of her childhood are all linked to her passion for music and her desire to sing. Born in 1954 in Larkana, Sindh into a family tat maintains close associations with the shrines of Sufi saints. She was imparted her initial training in the art of music from her father, Ustad Ghulam Haider, and later from Ustad Salamat Ali Khan of Sham Chorasia gharana. Her father, whom she refers to as reverently as Baba Sain, was also a singer and had his own small music school where he taught only male pupils. He was devoted to the Sufi poets and that is from where Abida gets her devotional inspiration. For her the Sufi poets of Sindh and Punjab are the ones who speak of the inner truths of the self and in their poetry, where she finds solace and peace. As she was growing up, Abida attended her father’s music school and that was where her foundation in music was laid.

Hyderabad Radio first introduced her in 1977. She is today the most popular and well-known folk and ghazal singer of Pakistan who breathed a new life into ghazal and semi-classical music. She holds an audience of thousands spellbound. Her appearance is a complete reverse of many other stage performers. She begins each number as solemnly as the previous one as the evening progresses, sinking deeper and deeper into her kafi’s and Sufiana kalam of the mystic poets. She is a woman of very few words and asks to be judged only by her music. This folk phenomenon, called Abida Parveen, is deeply religious and profoundly humble.

Abida Parveen is the finest singer of ghazal, geet and sindhi, seraiki and punjabi kafees. ‘While khayal and thumri became a part of her childhood training, her effective rendering of folk and traditional music with great sophistication and without losing the basic characteristics of the regional music of sindh has made her a versatile singer.’

Her command of kafi of sufi poets such as Hazrat Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai, Hazrat Lal Shabaz Qalandar, Hazrat Sacchal Sarmast from sindh, and Hazrat Baba Bulhe Shah, Hazrat Khawja Farid Ganje Shakar, Hazrat Sultan Bahu, Hazrat Mian Muhammad Buksh, Hazrat Ghulam Farid, Hazrat Pir Mehr Ali Shah and Hazrat Shah Hussain from pujab embellishes her versatility. Apart from sufis of Pakistan, Parveen also sings mystic poetry of the Asian Indian subcontinent, which include sufis such as Hazra Amir Khusrau, Hazrat Nizamudin Auliya, Hazrat Kutbuddin Bakhtiar Kaki, Hazrat Moinuddin Chishti and Hazrat Moulana Jalaluddin Roomi from Turkey.

Professor G.M. Mekhri of Sind University has rightly said that, ‘Abida Parveen is the spiritual daughter of Great Sufi Saint Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai. She is the truly blessed voice.’ Abida has recorded all the poetry of Hazrat Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai, an 18th century poet and composer who blended folk music and classical raga in a style known as kafi from his book called ‘Shah jo Risalo’ according to their respective ‘Raags’ which were also laid down by him.

She has performed almost in all parts of the world and performed before international audiences and placed the name of the country high up I the field of music. Abida Parveen performed in Chicago in 1988. Her fist performance was based on classical and semi-classical art, the second was comprised of ghazals of prominent poets and the third rested on folk singing and different varieties of sindhi music. Her performance was recorded by the renowned organization Hazrat Amir Khusrau Society of Art and Culture, which issued a long play recording of her renderings.

Discography:

Pakistani Sufi Songs (Inedit Music, 1995)

Devotional Journey (Shalimar Records, 1997)

Songs of the Mystics (Navras Records, 2000)

Raqs-E-Bismil (Music Today, 2000)

Ho Jamalo (Music Today, 2000)

Jahan E Khusrau (Navras Records, 2001)

Tere Ishq Nachaya (Music Today, 2001)

Visal – The Meeting Mystic Poets from the Hind (World Village, 2002)

Hazrat Shah Hussain (Tim, 2002)

Sings Amir Khusrau (Tim, 2002)

Baba Bulleh Shah (Oreade Music, 2003)

Mere Dil Se (Tim, 2003)

Kabir (Tim, 2005)

Main Janu Mera Khuda Jane (Music Today, 2005)

‘Ishq: l’Amour Absolu – Supreme Love (Accords-Croises, 2005)

Passage to India:Traditional (Navras Records, 2006)

Euphoric Abida Remixes (Tim, 2006)

Live in Concert: Svar Utsav, Vol. 1 (Music Today, 2006)

Live in Concert: Svar Utsav, Vol. 2 (Music Today, 2006)

Euphoric (Tim, 2006)

Aashna (Tim, 2006)

Ghalib (2008)

Abida Ghazal Ka Safar Vol. II (Times Music)

Jeway Saiyaan (2008)

The Very Best of Abida (2009)

Zikr – Soul of Sufism, Vol. 1 (2009)

Thumri and Ghazal (2009)

Rukh-E-Murshid (2009)

Roohani Mehfil (Vol.2) (2010)

Qalander Asra Hai (2011)

The Sufi Queen (Vol.1) (2011)

30 Greatest Hits Abida Parveen And Noor Jehan (2011)

Treasures (Vol.1) (2011)

Eternal Abida (2012)

Lal De Rang Vich Rangi Aan (2012)

Sufiana safar (2012)

Tera Lal Sakhi Mera Lal Sakhi (2012)

Shaane-e-Ali (2012)

Ru-e-Ali (2013)

Zikr – Soul of Sufism (Vol. 2) (2014)

Tasawwuf (2014)

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Artist Profiles: Abhishek Basu

Abhishek Basu gave his first professional concert with santur maestro Tarun Bhattacharya. He was but a boy of eight when he first stepped into his guru’s home, where music reigned, in every possible form.

While Bikram Ghosh was away on long tours with Ravi Shankar, Abhishek had the privilege of taking lessons from the former’s father, the great tabla wizard Shankar Ghosh.

For the past years, Abhishek has intensely engaged himself with the study of rhythm. Presently, he is enriching his musical horizons with guidance from mridangam maestro Vidwan S. Sekhar. Though his technical underpinning derive from the Farrukhabad Gharana, Abhishek believes in the individual beauty of every gharana (school).

Abhishek’s individuality rests primarily on his modulations of the baya (the left hand bass drum). What distinguishes him most from his contemporaries is his ability to strike a perfect balance between power, clarity, and rhythmic sophistication. Bikram Ghosh says, “Abhishek is an extremely diligent and hard working tabla player. He is exceptionally talented, as is evident from the standard of performance he has achieved at such a young age. I can confidently say that he has a very bright future in professional tabla playing. He is sure to shine as one of the finest tabla players in our country in the near future.”

Awarded the First Prize at the annual music competition of the West Bengal State music Academy in 1996, Abhishek is also the recipient of the Pandit Jyan Prakash Ghosh Award (2001).

Abhishek has appeared in concert both as a soloist and accompanist in many. He has toured and performed with Tarun Bhattacharya, the celebrated santur virtuoso. Abhishek contributed significantly to Bhattacharya’s album Dance of the Gods, released by Bricklane, UK.

Abhishek released his first World music album Acrostic, with his world fusion band, ISM. Abhishek’s band has performed in the top venues of Kolkata.

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Artist Profiles: Abhisek Lahiri

Abhisek Lahiri
Abhisek Lahiri

At a young age Abhisek Lahiri rose to prominence as a sarod player in India. Abhisek has won the hearts of discerning audiences worldwide with his maturity, depth & perfection with enchanting tonal quality.

Abhisek was initiated in sarod and trained under the tutelage of his eminent father as well as Guru Pt. Alok Lahiri.

Abhisek is a proud recipient of the coveted National Scholarship for outstanding performance in Sarod, from the Ministry of Human Resource & Development and Tourism and Culture, Govt.of. India in 1996-97 and 2003.

Abhisek took part in the World Kinder Festival in Holland and enthralled the audiences as a Wonder Child Sarod Player in 1997. The Dutch Television network telecasts his recitals countrywide, repeatedly even now.

Abhisek won the coveted Anun Lund Rej Award worth Rs. 50,000- from the Norwegian Consulate in 1998 and has been honored by the Rotary International Club with Certificate Of Appreciation for his excellence in sarod in 2000. Abhisek has been honored with the prestigious Telegraph School Award as an outstanding talent.

Abhisek won the President Award in Sarod through All India Radio Music competition in the year 2000 and is at present a Graded regular artist of All India Radio and Doordarshan Kendra (Television).

http://sarodabhisek.com

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Artist Profiles: Abhiman Kaushal

Abhiman Kaushal - Photo by Daniel M Neuman
Abhiman Kaushal – Photo by Daniel M Neuman

Indian musician Abhiman Kaushal was initiated in the art of tabla by his father, R.M. Kaushal, who learned under the legendary Ustad Amir Hussain Khan. Abhiman also studied under Ustad Shiekh Dawood and Shri B. Nand Kumar. Abhiman is well known for his proficiency in the art of solo tabla as well as his sensitive accompaniment. His specialty lies in his rich tone and clarity.

Mr.Kaushal has accompanied most of the leading musicians of North Indian classical music including Pandit Ravi Shankar, Pandit Jasraj, Pandit Hari Prasad Chaurasia, Pandit Rajeev Taranath and Ustad Rais Khan. Abhiman Kaushal has toured throughout the U.S., Europe, the Middle East, Japan, and India.

Discography:

Spring
Legacy

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