Crashfest, an annual world music festival held in Boston (Massachusetts, USA) is set to take place February 22, 2020 at the House of Blues Boston.
The global music artists scheduled to perform include Fela! The Concert, a 10-piece band from the hit Broadway show about Fela Kuti, the creator of Afrobeat; renowned Malian vocalist and guitarist Fatoumata Diawara; Bokanté, a world music project featuring members of Snarky Puppy; New Orleans outfit Cha Wa; Venezuela’s Betsayda Machado; Mozambican guitarist Albino Mbie; the Colombian sounds of multinational band Los Cumpleaños; the Assam beats of Immi & The Mahoots; klezmer from Ezekiel’s Wheels; dancers Wondertwins; the tap, flamenco and Kathak of female trio Soles of Duende; and South African rapper Sho Madjozi.
The second edition of the Black Atlantic series brought an excellent sampling of African and Afro-rooted music to Durham, North Carolina.
The first concert featured South African musician Derek Gripper, Congolese guitarist Jaja Bashengezi and Ugandan multi-instrumentalist Kinobe. Classically-trained Gripper has adapted the kora technique to the guitar. Kinobe played a fascinating Baganda harp called ndongo. This was a relaxed, virtuosic concert, focusing on the melodic side of African music. Derek Gripper has two albums related to his kora reinterpretations: One Night on Earth (2012) and Libraries on Fire (2016).
One of the highlights of the festival was Malian artist Fatoumata Diawara. I had seen her a few years ago when she was a rising artist. Years later, she has blossomed into one of the finest acts from West Africa and the world music scene in general. Her sold-out concert featured an explosive mix of modernized Malian traditional music, Afrobeat and Afro-rock. She speaks English very well and engaged the audience easily with her charisma and charm.
What surprised me (and the audience) the most is when she picked up her electric guitar several times and started soloing, ranging from Malian desert blues to Afro-rooted rock. Clearly spectacular. Fatoumata’s recent albums include Fatou and Fenfo.
The third concert in the series featured the captivating, trance-like Western Saharan sound of Mauritanian singer and ardine player Noura Mint Seymali along with her electric band. Her discography includes Tzenni (2014) and Arbina (2016).
Next was another highlight, spectacular Cuban singer Daymé Arocena. She also expressed herself in English very well, encouraged dancing and call and response interaction with the audience, and explained how Cuba is proud of its African and Spanish roots. Daymé bridges traditional Cuban, Afro-Cuban and American jazz. Her dazzling band featured world class Cuban instrumentalists, who obviously love jazz-rock fusion when they get opportunities to jam. Daymé’s highly recommended albums include Nueva Era (2015) and Cubafonía (2017).
Unfortunately, I was unable to attend the Friday and
Saturday concerts, although a colleague reported that the Dafnis Prieto Big
Band concert was stunning. The show featured a 17-member big band performing Afro-Cuban
jazz and ballads. This format appears in Dafnis Prieto’s album Back to the Sunset.
Kudos to Duke Performances for this highly
successful series and special thanks to Eric Oberstein and King Kenney for their
Throughout March 2019, Duke Performances will be presenting some of the finest world music acts from Africa and the African diaspora with Black Atlantic. The series is a week-long festival that will take place at Durham’s iconic Motorco music club (and one addiitonal concert at Duke University’s Baldwin Auditorium).
Black Atlantic will feature artists from South Africa, Mauritania, Mali, Cuba, Brazil and the USA. The concert by Nigerien band Tal National was cancelled.
Black Atlantic Schedule
Black Atlantic: Derek Gripper & Africa Strings
Monday, March 25, 2019 at 8:00 p.m. (20:00)
Motorco Music Hall
Black Atlantic: Fatoumata Diawara
Tuesday, March 26, 2019 at 8:00 p.m. (20:00)
Motorco Music Hall
Noura Mint Seymali: Public Demonstration and Q&A
Wednesday, March 27, 2019 at 12 pm
Black Atlantic: Noura Mint Seymali
Wednesday, March 27, 2019 at 8:00 p.m. (20:00)
Motorco Music Hall
Caique Vidal: Public Demonstration and Q&A
Thursday, March 28, 2019 at 3 pm
Black Atlantic: Daymé Arocena
Thursday, March 28, 2019 at 8:00 p.m. (20:00)
Motorco Music Hall
Black Atlantic: Dafnis Prieto Big Band
Friday, March 29, 2019 at 8:00 p.m. (20:00)
Black Atlantic: The Campbell Brothers
Friday, March 29, 2019 at 8:00 p.m. (20:00)
Motorco Music Hall
Black Atlantic: Danilo Brito
Saturday, March 30, 2019 at 8:00 p.m. (20:00)
Motorco Music Hall
Malian singer-songwriter and guitarist Fatoumata Diawara will be touring North America in March and April to support her new Shanachie Records album Fenfo (“Something To Say”).
The splendid and socially mindful artist has used her music to focus on critical matters such as arranged marriage, migration, genital mutilation, domestic violence. She also campaigned against the trafficking and sale of black migrants in Libyan slave markets.
Fatoumata Diawara has collaborated with Bobby Womack, Herbie Hancock, Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Damon Albarn, Roberto Fonseca, David Crosby, Amadou & Mariam, Oumou Sangaré and Snarky Puppy.
March 21 – Neptuno Theater – Seattle, WA March 23 – The Theatre at Ace Hotel – Los Angeles, CA March 24 – San Francisco Jazz Festival – San Francisco, CA March 26 – Montorco – Music Hall – Durham, NC March 28 – Savannah Music Festival – Savanah, GA March 30 – Le Poisson Rouge – New York, NY March 31 – Highland Center for the Arts – Greensboro, VT April 2 – Le National – Montreal, Canada April 3, Palais Montcalm – Maison de la Musique – Quebec, Canada April 4 – Toronto Centre for the Arts – Toronto, Canada April 5 – City Winery Boston – Boston, MA April 6 – North Beach Bandshell – Miami Beach, FL
Kokoko!, Fatoumata Diawara, Songhoy Blues, Bamba Wassoulou Groove, Djanka Diabaté, Nélida Karr and Alex Ikot are the African artists set to perform between July 20 and 28, 2018 in Cartagena, Spain at world music festival La Mar de Músicas.
Music from Africa has always played a leading role in La Mar de Músicas. The festival has dedicated previous editions to Senegal, Mali, Morocco and South Africa. Even though this year is dedicated to the music of Denmark, African artists will be represented as well.
“We have not stopped looking at Africa in any of our editions. We will continue being one of the seminal festivals in terms of music from the African continent in Spain,” said David Martínez Noguera, Culture councilman of the Cartagena City Council.
Representing the alternative music scene of the Congo, Kokoko! will perform on Saturday, July 21. Kokoko! is a hard to define band viewed from the western perspective. Their sounds emerge from the ghetto and the gambling dens of Kinshasa, where they avoided the censorship imposed by the government.
Kokoko! is part of the “do it yourself” concept in terms of the instruments they use. They invented their own instruments with scrap objects, given the impossibility of buying the traditional ones. A typewriter, a bucket of paint, a car’s cassette player … they have become the transmitters of their creations.
The band met French producer and African music fan, Débruit, and together they merged their sound universes, electrifying the raw sound of the Congolese and offering music that merges disco sounds, psychedelia and African traditions.
La Mar de Músicas will welcome Songhoy Blues, all the way from Timbuktu. Formed by three young people who, despite the ban on music in their region, continued their work from their exile in Bamako. They released an album that says it all, Résistence, in which they collaborated with Iggy Pop. Songhoy Blues will be in Cartagena on July 22.
Another of the Malian bands that participate in La Mar de Músicas is Bamba Wassoulou Groove, an act in which three guitarists stand in the wake of the legendary Zani Diabaté, who died in 2011.
Bamba Wassoulou Groove perform new songs and classic pieces from the bambara repertoire that sound like psychedelic guitars and electric and hypnotic blues. On July 25 will play in the Plaza del Ayuntamiento de Cartagena (Cartagena city hall square).
Fatoumata Diawara, originally from Mali, is a singer-songwriter who fuses wassulu music, an original style from the south of the Niger River with jazz and soul, creating a blend of modernity and African traditions with ancestral echoes. Her precious voice, trained as a theater and film performer in France and Mali, unfolds without limits in her latest work, Fenfo, which she will present in the old courtyard of the Military Training Barracks of Cartagena on July 27.
Djanka Diabaté was discovered by reggae star Alpha Blondy, who encouraged her and helped her make her first recordings. Her music combines traditional Guinean sounds and zouk and soukus influences and has made her a celebrity in Ivory Coast. In Cartagena she will perform on Monday, July 23rd along with Totó la Momposina, winner of La Mar de Músicas 2018 award.
Nélida Karr is the contemporary musical revelation of the new rhythms and sounds of Equatorial Guinea. Vocalist, composer, producer, pianist, guitarist and cellist, she has always been surrounded by the wealth of her family’s musical heritage, the landscapes of her country, jazz and gospel music.
Nélida will perform in Cartagena on Thursday, July 26, as she is one of the winners of the Vis a Vis cultural cooperation project of Casa África, in which the Cartagena festival has participated once more. Casa África is a Spanish government agency that supports cultural exchange between Spain and African nations.
On July 28, the last day of the festival, and also thanks to the Vis a Vis project, Equatorial Guinean actor Alex Ikot will perform. He’s a musician who has always excelled in the music scene of his country as a percussionist and drummer, skills that he developed from his childhood.
Álex Ikot’s resume is perhaps the most international of Equatoguinean musicians, having played during his long career with some of the greatest African musicians, such as Manu Dibango and Youssou N’Dour.
Fenfo is the second solo album by Malian vocalist, songwriter, guitar player and actress Fatoumata Diawara. She is undoubtedly one of the greatest young singers in Mali and her vocal work throughout Fenfo is outstanding.
Musically, Fenfo is meant to appeal to a broader audience. There is a mixture of rootsy songs and pop. Although you can find some Malian percussion and a kamale kngoni on one track, most of the album features prominent electric guitars and some collaborations French cellist Vincent Segal.
Malian music star Fatoumata Diawara has a new music video titled “Djonya” (slavery in Bambara). The video denounces the atrocities perpetrated against the migrants coming mostly from sub-Saharan Africa and also provides a glimmer of hope to all those who are victims of these modern times.
On November 14, 2017, CNN broadcast an investigative report about the trafficking and sale of black migrants in Libyan slave markets. This has led to international condemnation of these human rights violations and UN investigations.
With “Djonya”, Fatoumata wishes to condemn this tragic situation. It is a song that defends the idea that every woman and every man belongs to the human race, regardless of color, ethnicity or religion and that every human being should be respected.
Fatoumata Diawara (a.k.a. Fatou) was born of Malian parents in the Ivory Coast in 1982. As a child she became a member of her father’s dance troupe and was a popular performer of the wildly flailing didadi dance from Wassulu, her ancestral home in western Mali. She was an energetic and headstrong girl and at the age of 12 her refusal to go to school prompted her parents to send her to live and be disciplined by an aunt in Bamako. She was not to see her parents again for more than a decade.
Her aunt was an actress, and a few years after arriving, Diawara found herself on a film set looking after her aunt’s infant child. The film’s director was captivated by Diawara’s adolescent beauty and she was given a one-line part in the final scene of the film Taafe Fangan (The Power of Women). This led to a lead role in a film by the celebrated director Cheick Omar Sissoko: 1999’s La Genèse (Genesis).
At the age of 18 Diawara traveled to Paris to perform the classical Greek role of Antigone on stage. After touring with the production she returned to Mali where she was given the lead in Dani Kouyaté’s popular 2001 film Sia, The Dream of the Python. The film tells the story of a West African legend called Sia, a young girl who defies tradition. To many in Mali, Guinea, Senegal, and Burkina Faso, Diawara is Sia thanks to the film’s enormous success throughout the region.
Offers for further acting roles poured in but Diawara’s family wanted her to settle down and marry and forced her to announce, live on Malian television, that she was abandoning her career as an actress.
In 2002 Jean-Louis Courcoult, the director of the renowned French theatre company, Royale de Luxe, travelled to Bamako to offer Diawara a part in his new production. An unmarried woman is considered a minor in Malian society so her family’s permission was required. They refused. After much soul-searching Diawara took the daring decision to run away and at the Bamako airport she managed to board a plane for Paris, narrowly escaping the pursuit of the police who had been alerted to the girl’s “kidnapping.”
With Royal de Luxe, Diawara performed a variety of roles around the world including tours in Vietnam and Mexico and throughout Europe. During rehearsals and quiet moments she took to singing backstage for her own amusement. She was overheard by the director and was soon singing solo during the company’s performances. Encouraged by the reception from audiences she began to sing in Parisian clubs and cafes during breaks from touring. Here she met Cheikh Tidiane Seck the celebrated Malian musician and producer who invited her to travel with him back to Mali to work on two projects as chorus vocalist; Seya, the Grammy–nominated album by Malian singer Oumou Sangaré, and Red Earth, the Grammy–winning Malian project by American jazz singer Dee Dee Bridgewater. When the albums were released Diawara toured worldwide as singer and dancer with both artists.
On her return to France, Diawara took the role of Karaba in the popular touring musical Kirikou and Karaba. She was encouraged to take the role by her friend Rokia Traoré, who also inspired her to take up the guitar. Diawara bought a guitar and started to teach herself and to write down her own compositions.
She made the decision to dedicate herself to her passion: music. She worked to complete an album’s worth of songs and started recording demos for which she composed and arranged all of the tracks, as well as playing guitar, percussion, bass, and singing lead and harmony vocals. An introduction from Oumou Sangaré resulted in a record deal with World Circuit and the recording of her debut album.
Between recording sessions she found time to collaborate on Damon Albarn’s Africa Express and contribute vocals to albums by Cheikh Lô, AfroCubism, Herbie Hancock’s Grammy–winning Imagine Project and Orchestra Poly-Rythmo de Cotonou.
Diawara’s EP Kanou was released by World Circuit Records in the U.K. and Europe and by Nonesuch Records in North America. World Circuit released her debut album, Fatou, in Europe and the U.K. in the fall of 2011 to critical acclaim; Nonesuch released the album in North America on August 28, 2012.
Following the release, Diawara performed as part of Damon Albarn’s album and live project Rocket Juice and the Moon, which featured himself, Tony Allen, and Flea. She also is featured on Roberto Fonseca’s most recent release Yo and on Bobby Womack’s album The Bravest Man in the Universe, which was co-produced by Albarn and Richard Russell. Diawara has also toured extensively, selling out venues across Europe, Canada, and Australia.