Category Archives: Artist Profiles

Artist Profiles: Abby Newton

Abby Newton
Abby Newton

American musician Abby Newton first brought her cello into the folk music scene in the mid 1970’s as a member of The Putnam County String Band, with Jay Ungar, John Cohen of the New Lost City Ramblers and Lyn Hardy. Her partnership with Scottish singer Jean Redpath introduced her to the music of the British Isles, and they toured the US and Scotland, and made 16 albums together.

Abby’s first solo recording of new and traditional Scottish and Irish music, Crossing to Scotland, brought the cello front and center and included a stellar group of supporting musicians. Her second recording, Castles, Kirks, and Caves, featured 18th Century Scottish traditional and Baroque music, recorded on location in the ancient spaces in Scotland where the music has its roots.

A new trio, Ferintosh, evolved out of those recording sessions, and features Abby, fiddler David Greenberg, and Celtic harper Kim Robertson. Their first CD, Ferintosh, presented a unique sound, described by some as chamber-folk. Abby was the featured artist in an hour-long interview by Fiona Richie on National Public Radio’s The Thistle and Shamrock, and she has also made several appearances on A Prairie Home Companion.

In addition to many workshops conducted in Scotland promoting the use of the cello as both a melodic and rhythmic instrument in traditional music, Abby has also taught at Gaelic Roots, Rocky Mountain Fiddle Camp, National Strings Workshop and Valley of the Moon Scottish Fiddle School. Abby has been featured on over a hundred recordings by a variety of folk artists including Jean Redpath, Priscilla Herdman, Bonnie Rideout, Al Petteway, David Greenberg and Puirt a Baroque, and the Jay Ungar/Molly Mason duo.

[Biographical information courtesy of the Swannanoa Gathering].


Crossing to Scotland (Culburnie Records, 1997)
Castles, Kirks, and Caves (Redwing Records, 2001)



Artist Profiles: Abboud Abdel’Al

Lebanese musician Abboud Abdel’Al was born in 1930. He started his musical career while he was only 7 years old. He is a well known violin player, conductor, composer and arranger, in the Arab countries and in Europe.

He has worked with legendary Arab Artists such as Mohammed Abdel Wahab, Farid El-Atrach, Abdel Halim Hafez, Feiruz etc… In addition, he has contributed and worked with London Philharmonic Orchestra, Jessy King, Anne Dudley, Jaz Coleman and many others.


Artist Profiles: Aaron Bebe Sukura

Aaron Bebe Sukura
Aaron Bebe Sukura

Aaron Bebe Sukura is a Ghanaian multi-instrumentalist (harp-lute, thumb-piano, bamboo flute, guitar, xylophone). He recorded Nyong, a solo album devoted to acoustic Highlife from Ghana with a unique mixture of Jamaican, Manding and Ghanaian influences.

Aaron Bebe Sukura sings about love, wisdom, and the fight against corruption. He made his recording with Local Dimension, a group based at the University of Ghana at Legon. The originator of the project was John Collins, producer of several records in Nigeria and Ghana, the author of a book about Fela Kuti, and a specialist in African urban music.


Artist Profiles: Aaron White

Aaron White
Aaron White
Aaron White has been entertaining audiences in all four directions of the Earth. A multifaceted artist, he can be found working on a soundtrack or opening young minds to music and stories of the Native people of the United States of America. Performing with a Symphony and playing to a large festival audience. Whether solo or with his band The Blue Stone Project, Aaron White is always finding new ways to express American Indian music in songwriting or instrumental form.

Born in Oakland, California, Aaron grew up on and off the Northern Ute reservation. He is of two Nations, the Dine of Northern Arizona (Blacksheep Clan) and The Northern Ute tribe Whiteriver band.

Performing has always been in the blood of this singer-songwriter and flute player. Music has taken him to many places like the Hawaiian Islands, Europe and Canada, and also across the United States.

Aaron White was nominated for a Grammy with his group Burning Sky for Best Native American album in 2003 and they also won a Native American Music Award for Group of the Year in 2004. He has also become a flute maker when he is not on the road or in the studio. This has led him to doing art shows around the country and entering juried shows with his work. From museums to festivals you will find Aaron White showcasing his talent in song or cultural performance and having a great time with the people who he meets along the way.

Popular or famous Aaron White music songs include Twilight, Taking My Time, Two-Hearted River, Tragic Folk, Now You’re Gone, Old Muddy River, Deep Creek, Alaska, I’m feeling fine, Nine Below, Whisky & Gin, Employment Blues, and Sweet Wind.

Aaron White - Handprints of Our People
Aaron White – Handprints of Our People


Burning Sky (Canyon Records, 1994)
Blood of the Land (Canyon Records, 1995)
Creation (Canyon Records, 1996)
Enter the Earth (Rykodisc, 1999)
Full Moon Session (Canyon Records, 1999 & 2004)
Spirits in the Sky (Canyon Records, 2002)
A Simple Man (Canyon Records, 2003)
Handprints of Our People (Canyon Records, 2011)
Blue Stone (Canyon Records, 2006)


Artist Profiles: Abhijit Pohankar

Abhijit Pohankar
Abhijit Pohankar

Abhijit Pohankar was born June 29, 1975 in Mumbai, India. He bridges Indian classical music with chillout lounge electronic grooves, building a remarkably cross-generational and international fan base. The son of Indian music legend Maestro P.T Ajay, whose voice can be heard on Abhijt’s break-out album Piya Bavri he is a prolific composer in his own right with over 20 albums to date.

Abhijit is distinguished as a rare musician who can play Indian classical music on a keyboard. His fusion approach is backed by strong fundamentals, having studied music as a young man with Pandit Shivkumar Sharma. His song “Piya Bawari” was chosen for the Buddha Bar compilation, one of the world’s best-known series of global groove recordings and a springboard for countless artists to worldwide notoriety. He has performed at the North Sea Jazz Festival and the Cape Town Festival; with shows in leading concert halls and venues worldwide.


Deeper Zone (Ninaad Music, 1998)
Syntileting Synthesizer (Neelam Audio, 1999)
Dharohar (Times Music, 2000)
Shanti (Times Music, 2001)
Tranquility (Sona Rupa, 2000)
Ekanth (Times Music, 2001)
Piya Bavari (Times Music, 2002)
Sajanwa (Music Today, 2004)
Kamasutra (Freespirit Eecords, 2004)
Koyaliya (Universal Music, 2004)
Piya Bavari Again (Times Music, 2006)
Urban Ragas (HMV, 2007)
Navkaar Mantra (HMV, 2007)
Thumri Funk (EMI, 2012)
Masters of Fusion: A definitive collection (EMI, 2012)

Official Web Site:


Artist Profiles: Abdullah Chhadeh

Abdullah Chhadeh - Photo by Andrew Cronshaw
Abdullah Chhadeh – Photo by Andrew Cronshaw

Abdullah Chhadeh is one of the Arab world’s most innovative qanun players. He has re-designed the traditional oriental instrument by the addition of an octave, which enables him to play a wide variety of Middle Eastern classical music, from the Turkish, Azerbaijani, Persian, Arabic and Andalusian repertoire.

Born in Damascus in 1968, Chhadeh was raised in a camp for refugees from the Golan Heights and was schooled there. He later studied Mathematics at Damascus University. Chhadeh also studied at the Damascus Musical Conservatory, where he specialized in both Eastern and Western Classical music, and graduated with a degree in 1997.

He studied composition at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London, from 1997-1999, with Adrian Thorne and Malcolm Singer (Head of the Menuhin School of Music). Trained in western classical music, he has performed his adaptations of works by Vivaldi, Bach, Handel, and Mozart for the qanun with both chamber and symphony orchestras, in the Arab world and in the West.

He is a talented and rigorous composer. His compositions for qanun were performed by himself and broadcast on BBC World Service Radio.

His composition for Symphony Orchestra had its world premiere performance in 2000. He regularly plays as a guest performer with Classical, Jazz and World Music groups.

In 2001 he formed the ensemble Nara, which plays principally his own compositions. The band’s first album, consists of material recorded live during its set at 2001’s WOMEX world music trade fair in Rotterdam.

Abdullah sees Nara as a flexible ensemble which can invite guests to perform with it; at Rotterdam singer Natacha Atlas made a guest appearance, joining Chhadeh’s qanun, Matthaios Tsahourides’ Pontic lyra, Bernard O’Neill’s double bass and the Kurdish percussion of the three Zahawy brothers.

In 2010, Abdullah Chhadeh joined Nick “Dubulah” Page (Dub Colossus, Trans Global Underground and Temple of Sound) and Irish double bass player, composer and MD Bernard O..Neill in a three way collaboration called Syriana. The writing and recording took place in London, at Real World Studios and in Damascus.

Syriana was described as a dialog between East and West, where ancient civilizations vye and blend with iconography from spy novels, 1960s television themes and Cold War film soundtracks.


Seven Gates (2005)

The Road to Damascus, with Syriana (2010)

Official Web Site:


Artist Profiles: Abdeljalil Kodssi

Abdeljalil Kodssi
Abdeljalil Kodssi

In 1980 Abdeljalil Kodssi recorded his first album with the group Mlouk el Hawa, followed by four more in the following four years. Until that moment, despite coming from a musical family, he had worked as a barber, playing in his spare time in his hometown of Marrakech. He met a famous Spanish writer, Juan Goytisolo, at his barbershop. Goytisolo fell in love with the group’s music and took them to Spain to accompany his book presentations. Through Goytisolo, Kodssi met Spanish rock musician Miguel Rios, who became involved in the project.

Kodssi’s time in Spain led to performances in Madrid, Barcelona, Salamanca, Valencia, etc. A fortuitous meeting with the folk group Al-Tall facilitated Mlouk el Hawa’s entry into France, with a concert in Marseilles.

In 1986 Mlouk el Hawa was invited for the second time to Valencia’s Troubadour Festival. The group recorded an album with Aktal: Chirk el andalus, as well as another of their own : Goman el frek. More tours followed throughout Spain and Morocco.

Kodssi met Hassan Hakmoun in 1987. Hakmoun is a famous Moroccan Gnawa musician, who has worked with Peter Gabriel and Don Cherry. Kodssi collaborated with Hassan Hakmoun and Don Cherry until Cherry’s death in 1995.

In 1990 Kodssi joined Nass Marrakech and participated in the group’s album, with contributions from Goytisolo. The following year, Nass Marrakech performed at Barcelona’s Grec Festival and decided to make this city their permanent base. For the neat years, Kodssi worked with Nass Marrakesh, Ektal and Javier Mas.

Abdeljalil Kodssi recorded Tamiz with Javier Mas and Jordi Rallo in 2000. That same year, he met Cuban musician Omar Sosa at the WOMEX conference in Berlin.

The year 2001 saw the release of Nass Marrakesh’s Bounderbala, featuring contributions from Omar Sosa and Jorge Pardo.

Kodssi’s first solo album Mimoun, produced by Omar Sosa for Ventilador Music, was released in 2002. A new solo album titled Oulad Fulani Ganga came out in 2007.


A.C. Reed & the Sparkplugs

A.C. Reed
A.C. Reed

A.C. Reed’s expressive tenor saxophone supported the Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton, Muddy Waters, Albert Collins and Buddy Guy. His gruff and tough blues vocals were showcased on his best-selling album for Alligator Records, “I’m In The Wrong Business,” that features guest appearances by long-time fans Bonnie Raitt and Stevie Ray Vaughn.

A.C. Reed - “I’m In The Wrong Business
A.C. Reed – “I’m In The Wrong Business

Born Aaron Corthen in Wardell, Missouri in 1926, A.C. was immediately attracted to music. “I’ve been around music all my life,” he said. “I had one brother who made himself a bass out of a wash tub, and another brother who played the piano.”

He became a session musician and sideman for many acts until he pursued a solo career in the late 1980s.

For A.C., though, neither bass nor piano would do. He had his heart set on playing the saxophone. Realizing that rural southeast Missouri offered limited opportunities, A.C. arrived in Chicago in 1942 at age 16. He quickly found work at a steel mill, and bought a saxophone at a pawnshop with his first paycheck.

A master songwriter and blues humorist, Reed’s wry commentary on life in the music business, a trademark of both his witty original lyrics and comical stage persona, delighted audiences worldwide.

A.C. was revered as top blues man, earning the 1998 Most Outstanding Blues Horn Player pick from the readers and critics of Living Blues.

A.C.’s traveling band, the Sparkplugs, a six-piece unit featuring a female vocalist, were revered for their passionate guitar solos and powerful dance grooves.

A.C. Reed died on February 24, 2004


Artist Profile: Abbi


Abbi is one of Kenya’s finest Afro-fusionist. With roots in Kenyan people’s traditional instruments and tunes, he fuses contemporary instruments from the world today, such as West African jembe, kora along with piano, violin, sax, flute, bass, guitars and drums.

Abbi takes his Kenyan beats into a newness, experimenting with other genres as salsa, jazz, reggae, and pop. Furthermore, he likes mixing different languages and sings in both English, Swahili, Luhya (his mother-tongue), French, Luo and Maasai. His music has taken him on tours and festival-performances several times such as the North Sea Jazz and Mundial festival.


Abbi began his musical career in 1993 as an a cappella singer, and ventured into Afro-fusion some years later. His first solo-album came out in 2003 titled Mudunia. This album lead to two Kisima-awards for Best Male Artist and Most Promising Artist. He released his second album Indigo in August 2007.

Abbi - Indigo
Abbi – Indigo

In 2008, Abbi opened a recording studio to produce other Kenyan artists in Nairobi, like Mutinda, Nina Ogot, Joy Shambula and the late Arnavah [Nathan Krystall] .

In 2014 Abbi created a partnership with Claus Seest and started Fluffy Studios in Nairobi.


Carole Demesmin

She’s now occasionally an old lady singer and a powerful Vodou priestess, or a manbo. She now mostly sits and only sometimes comments instead of being the cultural doer that she once was. She tells her memories. Before it, she was a socially and politically conscious young woman in bright colors on a vinyl cover. She sang Vodou culture songs that some in Haiti, who preferred to mimic European culture, shunned. She also sang songs about the tribulations of the country’s poor. She was a singer seen on television and heard on the radio who time and time again fed Haitian life with her a love of selfhood. As a token of their gratitude, Haitians have declared her a legend.

Carole Demesmin was at first a middle class Haitian girl from Leogane who had moved to the United States who knew very little if nothing at all about Vodou. Leogane is a city known for its Rara bands; pre-columbian culture marching bands heavily steeped in Vodou that still exist today. Regardless, she was not aware of it. She learned of Vodou in the United States, as many Haitians do. Inspired, she went on to release the majestic album Carole Maroule in 1979.

Carole Demesmin - Carole Maroule
Carole Demesmin – Carole Maroule

She moved back to Haiti in the early 1980’s and became one of the great singers of her people’s struggle, a people who would overthrow a dictator in 1986, a people who would be massacred by its own army in the early 1990’s and who would know a bittersweet version of democracy that would send it into a disastrous tailspin that still affects Haiti today. As things turned sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worst, she became a priestess of Vodou religion and released the albums Min Rara, Lawouze, and Kongayiti-Afrika, all to signify that we Haitians are Africans in the New World who want respect.

Her commitment to Vodou was as correct as it is beautifully expressed. No human being should be obliged to believe in a specific God or in one God. We human beings have not been successful at upholding that as a human right. Christian institutions, descendants of Roman Christianity and always close to political and social power, has done a lot of damage to one’s ability to practice another religion with dignity. It forced the polytheist slaves of the Western Hemisphere into an odd form of secrecy; they could not practice their faith in public and so their descendants have taken on similar postures. Her commitment did wonders for Haitian culture and for Haitian song. It imposed itself in public, gladly, without remorse.