Category Archives: Artist Profiles

Artist Profiles: Adalberto Santiago

Born in Ciales, Puerto Rico, Adalberto Santiago was influenced and inspired by the vocal styles of Beny Moré, Chapottin, Pancho Alonso and Miguelito Cuni. These free-style singers helped him form a method of singing that has turned him into one of the most popular vocalists of Latin music.

He became the lead vocalist for Ray Barretto’s Orchestra in 1966 and captivated audiences with a string of hits.


Artist Profiles: Adalberto Alvarez

Adalberto Alvarez
Adalberto Alvarez
For the past decades, Havana-born Adalberto Alvarez has been passionately involved in the making and advancement of son, the most popular and powerful musical form of his native Cuba. In his particular expression, he incorporates the best of the traditional elements and the abounding modernistic influences in a highly volatile mix that appeals equally to the older and the younger generations alike. Adalberto successfully excites the listener while irresistibly engaging the dancer. He masterfully achieves a perfect balance between musician and dancer, never failing to maintain the untainted musical essence of his people.

Influenced initially by Arsenio Rodriguez and the great Cuban troubadours, Manuel Corona, Sindo Garay, and Miguel Matamoros, Alvarez’s music has continued to evolve, becoming an undeniably powerful force in the contemporary Cuban soundscape. Adalberto Alvarez is currently the most covered Cuban artist. His compositions have reached all corners of the world and have been recorded by the likes of Gran Combo, Sonora Poncena, Roberto Roena, Willy Rosario, Cano Estremera, Andy Montanez and Gilberto Santa Rosa in Puerto Rico; Oscar De Leon in Venezuela; Juan Luis Guerra in the Dominican Republic, and many others in the USA and Europe. A conservative estimate is that there are well over 200 different versions of his songs in the Latin world.

Alvarez’s talent flourished in an actively musical environment. His father was the director of Avance Juvenil, the local group that would serve in 1973 as the launching pad for Adalberto’s career as a professional bandleader. His mother was a singer and pianist, who taught him the intricacies of harmony singing at an early age. He graduated from the acclaimed Escuela Nacional de Arte (ENA), where he directed its Orquesta tipica -a charanga style band that served as an experimental workshop for many of his ideas for nearly eight years. While at ENA, he began writing and arranging for established groups, such as the celebrated Conjunto Rumbavana that made El Son de Adalberto a hit and popularized several other of his compositions.

In 1978, Alvarez relocated to Santiago de Cuba, where his legendary group Son 14 was founded. Their premier recording A Bayamo en Coche yielded the earliest in a sustained string of nationwide hits. The first of his many tours outside Cuba was to Barquisimeto, Venezuela in 1980, where Son 14 won the Crepusculo Dorado award. In early 1984, Alvarez formed the quintessential Cuban dance group, Adalberto y su Son, that has received international acclaim and gathered loyal followers worldwide.

In recognition of his extraordinarily unique talent, Alvarez has been presented with numerous awards around the globe. Even as far as Japan, his Sueño con una Gitana was selected the #1 Latin American album by one of Tokyo’s leading music publication.

In the midst of ambitious projects, Adalberto Alvarez Zayas turned 55 year-old in 2003. Adalberto rejoiced being named a Prodigal Son of Camaguey, honoring his 55th birthday and 30-year artistic career. There were over 15,000 people at the gala, including the presence of other musicians from the territory where he began his professional life in 1973. The Camaguey Hotel dedicated a room to him designed similarly to the atmosphere of his house. Alvarez wanted to be a pilot and ended up studying bassoon at the National Art School. His loyalty to son led to his current nickname “El Caballero del Son” (The Gentleman of Son).


El Regreso de Maria
Omara canta el Son
Sueño con una Gitana
Celina, Frank y Adalberto
Fin de semana
Dominando la partida de Ballymena
El Chévere y el Caballero (Artcolor)
Son en dos tiempos (Artcolor)
Dale como é (Artcolor)
A bailar el toca toca (PM Records, 1996)
Locos por el Son (PM Records)
Adalberto Alvarez y su Son en vivo (PM Records)
Grandes éxitos (PM Records)
Los Super éxitos de Adalberto (Caribe Productions SON 14)
Adalberto y su Son, Noche sensacional (Caribe Productions)
A Bailar el Toca Toca (Caribe Productions)
Jugando con Candela Caliente, Caliente (Bis Music)
Magistral, with Michel Camilo (Milan Latino)
El Son de Adalberto Suena Cubano (Bis Music, 2002)
Para Bailar Casino (Bis Music, 2003)
Mi Linda Habanera (Bis Music, 2005)
Gozando en La Habana (Bis Music, 2008)
El Son De Altura (Bis Music, 2010)


Artist Profiles: Actores Alidos

Actores Alidos
Actores Alidos

Actores Alidos is a Sardinian group that specializes in female polyphony. The group performs songs of love, sacred songs, lullabies, popular dances, funeral laments and serenades.

The polyphonic quintet features the female voices of Alessandra Leo, Roberto Locci, Valeria Parisi, Manuela Sanna, led by the deep voice of Valeria Pilia.

Accompanying the quintet is Sardinian music maestro, Orlando Mascia, an expert of traditional Sardinian music and a virtuoso of traditional musical instruments such as the launeddas (flute with 3 reeds), the sulitu (traditional flute), the trunfa (jew’s harp) and the organetto (accordion) which he uses to dialog with the voices of the group.


Valeria Pilia – boghe sola
Alessandra Leo – boghe de punta
Manuela Sanna – boghe de punta
Roberta Locci – boghe mediana
Valeria Parisi – boghe de suta
with Orlando Mascia – launeddas, sonetu, trunfia, triangle, sulitu, tumbarinu


Galanìas (Finisterre)

Canti delle donne sarde (Finisterre)

[Biography adapted by World Music Central from an original by Giovanna Marini. Courtesy of Felmay].


Artist Profiles: Acquaragia Drom

Acquaragia Drom
Acquaragia Drom

Acquaragia Drom is an Italian band with a little Gypsy blood and lots of experience performing at traditional weddings and feasts all around in Italy. Its original music and dance project is an amazing amalgam of Italian and Mediterranean Gypsy style swirling, including Rom saltarellos, tarantellas, pizzicas and tammurriatas (folk dances) from the Sinti tribes. Acquaragia Drom plays using an "ironic and corrosive" way to present this repertoire in order to make the audience laugh and dance with them.

Erasmo Treglia: violin, jew’s harp, ciaramella (traditional oboe)

Elia Ciricillo: voice, guitar, tambourine, dance

Rita Tumminia: accordion, dance

Paolo Rocca: clarinets


Zingari (Felmay)

Rom Kaffe (Dunya, 2008)

Mister Romano (Dunya, 2004)


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.


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.


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.


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.




Artist Profiles: 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


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

Official Web Site:


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.


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)