Tag Archives: Samite

The Best World Music Albums of 2018

World Music Central has compiled the list of best world music albums of 2018 selected by our editors and contributors as well as our partners at the Transglobal World Music Chart and our colleagues at the European World Music Chart.

Tom Orr (USA), World Music Central

Moira Smiley – Unzip the Horizon

Moira Smiley – Unzip the Horizon (Moira Smiley Music)
Various Artists – Ska Around the World (Putumayo)
Opium Moon – Opium Moon (Be Why Music)
The Temple Rockers – Festival of Lights (Fresh Roots Records)
Nancy Vieira – Manha Florida (Lusafrica)
Appalatin – Vida (Appalatin)
Ram – August 1791 (Willibelle)
Bombay Rickey – Electric Bhairavi (Cowboys & Indian)
Black Masala – Trains and Moonlight Destinies (Black Masala Music)
Bokante & Metropole Orkest – What Heat (Real World)

Runner Up: Razia – The Road (Razia Said)

The best live event of the year was, without doubt, Moira Smiley’s one-of-a-kind CD release concert, an intimate and truly magical performance in the City of Angels.

Daryana Antipova (Russia), World Music Central and Transglobal World Music Chart

Kalascima – K

1) Kalascima – K (Ponderosa Music & Art)
2) Monsieur Doumani – Angathin (Monsieur Doumani )
3) Solju – Odda Áigodat (Bafe’s Factory)
4) Brigan – Rua San Giacomo (Marocco Music)
5) 47Soul – Balfron Promise (Cooking Vinyl)
6) Eva Salina & Peter Stan – Sudbina: A Portrait of Vida Pavlovic (Vogiton)
7) Yiddish Glory – The Lost Songs of World War II (Six Degrees)
8) Auli & Tautumeitas – Lai Masina Rotajas! (CPL-Music)
9) Gili Yalo – Gili Yalo (Dead Sea)
10) WoWaKin – Kraj za Miastem (WoWaKin)

Dorothy Johnson-Laird (USA), World Music Central

Jupiter & Okwess – Kin Sonic

Jupiter & Okwess – Kin Sonic
Bombino – Deran
Manou Gallou – Afro Groove Queen
Fatoumara Diawara – Fenfo (Something to Say)
Imarhan – Temet
Samite – Resilience
Ebo Taylor – Yen Ara
Orquesta Akokán – Orquesta Akokán
Anandi Bhattacharya – Joys Abound
Catrin Finch & Seckou Keita – Soar

Madanmohan Rao (India), World Music Central and Transglobal World Music Chart

Angelique Kidjo – Remain in Light

Angelique Kidjo – Remain in Light
Barcelona Gipsy balKan Orchestra – Avo Kanto
Baul Meets Saz – Namaz
Cimbalom Brothers – Testvériség / Brotherhood
Hugh Masekela – Masekela 66-76
Indialucia – Acatao
Jivan Gasparyan Duduk Ensemble – Yeraz
Kora Jazz Trio – Part IV
Seun Kuti & Egypt 80 – Black Times
Stella Chiweshe – Kasahwa: Early Singles

Rafael Mieses (Dominican Republic/USA), Músicas del Mundo and and Transglobal World Music Chart

Chabuco – Encuentro

1- Chabuco – “Encuentro” (Sony Music)
2- Gabacho Maroc – Tawassol (10h10 / Cristal)
3- Malagasy Guitar Masters – Volo Hazo ( Buda Musique)
4- Marta Gómez – La Alegría y el Canto (Aluna)
5- El Naán – La Danza de las Semillas ( El Naán)
6- Ammar 808 – Maghreb United (Glitterbeat)
7- Samba Touré – Wande (Glitterbeat)
8- Ruben Blades & Winton Marsalis and Jazz at Lincoln Center “Una noche con Ruben Blades” (Blue Engine Records)
9 – Koum Tara – Koum Tara (Odradek)
10- Toko Telo – Diavola (Anio)

Arthur Shuey (USA), World Music Central

Koum Tara

Koum Tara by Karim Maurice & Sid-Ahmed Belksier
El Berencesa by Hossam Ramzy
Daa Dee by Minyeshu
Battle of Kings by Saor Patrol
Soar by Catrin Finch/Seckou Keita
A Cry For Revolution by Los Rupay
Yiddish Glory – Various Artists
Melodic Circles by Rostami

Angel Romero Ruiz (USA), World Music Central, Músicas del Mundo and Transglobal World Music Chart

Opium Moon – Opium Moon

Opium Moon – Opium Moon – Be Why Music
The Gloaming – Live at the NCH – Real World Records
The Mystery of the Bulgarian Voices – Boocheemish – Prophecy
Bokanté + Metropole Orkest – What Heat – Real World Records
Shooglenifty and Dhun Dhora – Written in Water – Shoogle Records
Shadi Fathi, Bijan Chemirani – Delâshena – Buda Musique
Dayramir Gonzalez – The Grand Concourse – Machat Records
Kittel & Co. – Whorls – Compass Records
El Naan – La Danza de las Semillas – El Naan
SANS – Kulku – Cloud Valley

Runner ups:

Plena Libre – Amores en el camino – Plena Libre
Afro Celt Sound System – Flight – ECC Records

Transglobal World Music Chart, Best Albums of 2018

Monsieur Doumani – Angathin

Best Album of 2018
Monsieur Doumani – Angathin – Monsieur Doumani

Best of North Africa & Middle East 2018
Monsieur Doumani – Angathin – Monsieur Doumani

Best Transregional Album 2018
Catrin Finch & Seckou Keita – Soar – Bendigedig

Best of Subsaharan Africa 2018
Fatoumata Diawara – Fenfo – Montuno / Shanachie / Wagram

Best of Europe 2018
El Naán – La Danza de las Semillas – El Naán

Best of Asia (Central & East) & Pacific 2018
Anandi Bhattacharya – Joys Abound – Riverboat / World Music Network

Best of North & Central America 2018
Grupo Mono Blanco – ¡Fandango! Sones Jarochos de Veracruz – Smithsonian Folkways

Best of South America 2018
Son Palenque – Kutu Prieta pa Saranguiá – Palenque

Best Compilation 2018
V.A. – Chikhates & Chioukhs de l’Aïta: Anthologie – Atlas Azawan

World Music Charts Europe – The top 10 in 2018

Fatoumata Diawara – Fenfo

1 – Fatoumata Diawara – Fenfo – 3eme Bureau / Wagram
2 – 3MA / Rajery, Driss El Maloumi, Ballake Sissoko – Anarouz – Mad Minute Music
3 – Catrin Finch & Seckou Keita – Soar – Bendigedig
4 – Marta Gomez – La Alegria y El Canto – Aluna
5 – Dirtmusic – Bu Bir Ruya – Glitterbeat
6 – Samba Toure – Wande – Glitterbeat
7 – Djeneba & Fousco – Kayeba Khasso – Lusafrica
8 – Dur-Dur Band – Dur Dur of Somalia Vol 1 & 2 – Analog Africa
9 – Monsieur Doumani – Angathin – Monsieur Doumani
10 – Calypso Rose – So Calypso! – Because Music

Selected Videos

headline photo: Fatoumata Diawara at Shakori Hills – Photo by Angel Romero


The Power of Music That Taps Human Resilience

Samite – Resilience

Samite – Resilience (Samite Music, 2018)

Resilience is a beautiful album by United States-based Ugandan musician and former refugee Samite. His main instrument is the flute and he delivers a set of engaging musical pieces that incorporate Ugandan roots music and jazz.

Samite’s music is played at concert venues and also for elders at institutions for seniors. Resilience is inspired by Samite’s own experiences of musical healing to search out comfort and relief. His mission is to transmit this comfort to other individuals.

Samite participated in Dr. Bill Thomas’ Disrupt Dementia, a national tour that stopped at hundreds of facilities and played music for residents. These endeavors are chronicled in the Sundance award-winning documentary Alive Inside.

On Resilience you’ll find tranquil, yet inspiring and mesmerizing music performed on flute, soft vocals, guitars, bass, percussion and keyboards.

The lineup includes Samite on vocals, flute, litungu (East African lyre), adungu (a Ugandan arched harp) and bass; David Cullen on guitars, bass and keyboards; Tony Cedras on guitar, strings and piano; Tristan Jarvis on upright bass, electric bass, guitar and keyboards; Frank Paco on percussion; and Nate Richardson on guitar.

The power of music is that it can tap human resilience, which is the same spirit in African refugee camps as it is in senior centers,” says Samite. “We are very resilient.”


Artist profiles: Samite


Samite Mulondo was born and raised in Uganda but left as a political refugee in 1982 following his brother’s death. He spent some time playing with the popular African Heritage Band and the Bacchus Club Jazz Band. During this period Samite studied Ugandan traditional musical instruments and rhythms with passion.

After only a few years, he mastered the kalimba (thumb-piano), marimba (wooden xylophone), litungu (seven-stringed Kenyan instrument) and various flutes, both traditional and western. Combining these melodious instruments he mesmerized audiences with his original compositions and eventually played solo at the Mount Kenya Safari Club.

Samite emigrated to the United States in 1987 and now resides in Ithaca, New York. Since his arrival, he has produced several albums. These recordings conjure dream-like images and folk tales and images from his native land. They contain a collection of joyful melodic multicultural songs featuring kalimba melodies which are the foundation of Samite’s music.

In 1998 Samite signed with Windham Hill Records and worked on compilations with Will Ackerman and one of his favorite Windham Hill artists, George Winston. Samite was featured on two of Windham Hill’s popular releases “Sound of Wind Driven Rain” and “Summer Solstice II.”

Samite spent the summer of 1999 traveling through parts of Africa, filming a PBS documentary titled “Song of the Refugee.” This documentary captured his first visit to Uganda since he left in 1982 and was inspired by his desire to present African refugees’ hopes for the future in spite of the loss and suffering they have endured. The coverage focused on the violence and destruction taking place in Samite’s native land as well as a cry for reconciliation and a healing process.

Samite’s 2003 CD, Tunula, written and recorded during the last year of his beloved wife Joan’s life, is an album of celebration of all that makes us human: love, loss, endurance hope. It is a joyous album conveying optimism through stories and songs. Indeed, these songs are a reflection of life itself: the innocent wonder of childhood (Kite Kitere), motherhood (Yangu Ni Yako), marriage (Mwatu), village life (Maama Yi Baaba), politics (Obubaka), peace (Agalilala) and everlasting love (Tunula Eno)

Samite reflects on these experiences as well as many other elements of his homeland while captivating audiences by performing soothing songs and dance from his and other African cultures.


Dance My Children Dance (Shanachie Records, 1990)
Pearl of Africa Reborn (Shanachie Records, 1992)
Silina Musango (Xenophile Records, 1996)
Stars to Share (Windham Hill Records, 1999)
Kambu Angels (Wind Over Earth, 2001)
Tunula Eno (Triloka Records, 2003)
Embalasasa (Triloka Records, 2005)
My Music World (2012)
Trust, soundtrack (2012)
Samite Live (2012)
Another Side of Me (2016)
Resilience (Samite Music, 2018)


Making it Beautiful and Deep

Samite – Trust

Trust (Musicians for World Harmony, 2012)

Renowned Ugandan multi-instrumentalist Samite develops new East African instrumental music on his latest CD, titled Trust. For this project, Samite decided to focus on the melodic traditions of East Africa, leaving drums and percussion out.

We wanted to stay away from drums and percussion on this album,” says Samite, “and to get people to hear other parts of African music. We wanted to take out the drums, yet still retain the music’s power and the ability to make people dance. To make it beautiful and deep.”

Beautiful indeed. On Trust , Samite skillfully blends Uganda’s Bakisimba rhythm, reggae, jazz, call and response techniques and other influences.

The pieces are part of the soundtrack of the documentary Addiction Incorporated by director Charles Evans, Jr. Evans, South African guitarist and dear friend Tony Cedras (Paul Simon), and Samite recorded the tracks at Daddy’s House Recording Studios, P Diddy’s studio in New York, asking other musicians to play the parts Samite usually performed himself. “We made most decisions between the three of us. It was the most democratic working environment ever,” Samite says. “This made me discover myself in a different way. I didn’t have to play it all myself,” Samite recalls. “We were behind the glass, on the other side of the screen, giving musicians ideas and direction about what to play, until we got emotional satisfaction.”

Trust features Samite’s familiar flute melodies and kalimba (thumb piano) as well as guitars, cello, brass, bass, accordion, and other instruments. In addition to Cedras, guests include cellist Elizabeth Simkin, guitarist David Cullen, flutist Arron Heicktra, saxophonist Morris Goldberg, trumpeter Todd Holton, South African bassist Bakithi Kumalo and Cameroonian bassist Fred Doumbe. “The musicians would play what we’d written, our rough key ideas, then they’d go where they wanted with our guidance,” Samite describes.

All proceeds from Trust will go to Musicians for World Harmony, a non-profit enterprise to bring healing to people exiled and devastated by conflict through music performance and music therapy. “People are now facing things they’ve never faced in the past, like kids who have been forced to killed their own parents and relatives,” Samite relates. “Music can help these children, but how do you approach it? We are both reminding people to use their culture for therapy, and in some cases, to learn from people trained in Western music therapy.”

On a recent trip to a huge refugee camp in Mubende, Uganda, we brought in twenty musicians with drums and dancers on a pickup truck,” Samite smiles. “People started running toward us, jumping, clapping, and dancing. At least then, for five hours, they forgot about their problems. I know what it means to sing and dance when you’ve had to face so many bad memories. It’s so important.”

Trust is an exquisite melodic album of contemporary East African music. Get it for the great music and for its worthy cause.

Buy the album at trustcd.org


From the Heart of the African Bush, Conversation with Samite Mulondo

Samite will be appearing at 7:30 p.m., April 24 at McIntyre Hall, (Skagit Valley Community College campus), Mount Vernon, Washington. For more information on this concert go to http://www.mcintyrehall.org

Other journalists besides me have felt the soothing lullabies of Ugandan multi-instrumentalist Samite Mulondo. The storyteller-musician-humanitarian takes his audiences on journeys to the African bush and also deep into the human heart. Listening to his recordings provide an intimate musical experience and seeing Samite in concert provides a different type of emotional experience that opens eyes, ears and hearts.

I first came across Samite when I was seeking African recordings to review for my former website, Cranky Crow World Music. “Tunula Eno” landed in my mailbox and as I listened to a beautiful set of songs I traveled through a gamut of emotions, from sweet humor to grief (the CD was dedicated to his wife who died from brain cancer).


A few years later, another Samite CD came my way—his seventh album, “Embalasasa,” named after a beautiful, yet poisonous lizard. According to Samite, today the poisonous lizard Africans and others face is the AIDS epidemic. The album featured another soulful collection of songs featuring Samite on thumb piano, flutes, percussion and vocals and backed by extraordinary musicians on kit drum, bass and guitar, including Grammy Award winner David Cullen.

Most recently I discovered that Samite would be performing at McIntyre Hall in Mount Vernon, Washington. I had seen the musician in concert when I was residing in Seattle so I jumped at the chance to interview Samite for his upcoming concert in the Valley.

PH: I read that you emigrated to the U.S. in 1987 and that you started out recording for the Windham Hill label. Were you recording Ugandan or African music for that label or other types of music? Besides recording for this label, how did you get started with music after settling in the U.S.?

Samite Mulondo: I began recording for Shanachie Records when I first came to the US. I recorded two albums with them: "Dance My Children, Dance" and "Pearl Of Africa Reborn." Next, I recorded for Xenophile, a branch of Green Linnet Records. For this label I recorded "Silina Misango." Following this, I recorded "Stars to Share" with Windham Hill Records. I only record my music and it is in Luganda, my native language.

PH: You offer your listeners a great gift with storytelling, multi-instrumental playing and original songs with the essence of Uganda. Does your storytelling and music come from a tradition similar to the West African griot?

SM: No. In Uganda it is different. One member of the family could be a musician and the rest of the family members might be doctors or engineers. In my family, I am the only musician, the rest are accountants, etc.

PH: Speaking of storytelling, I am interested in the films that your music has appeared in and the soundtrack you composed for the Kenyan filmmaker. Please tell me more about these projects.

SM: The filmmaker that I believe you are referring to is the team of Alan Dater and Lisa Merton (Marlboro Productions). They are not Kenyan — their subject is. Please visit their website: www.takingrootfilm.org.

The other important film that I was recently a part of (one of my songs is in this film) is “War Dance” by Fine Films (Sean and Andrea Fine). You will find information about their film at their website.

PH: Besides musical projects, you also founded a non-profit that uses the healing power of music to heal orphans in African countries. I know you founded this non-profit, Musicians for World Harmony in 2002, but how did it begin? Do you have any heartfelt stories to share in regard to starting this non-profit?

SM: I think this started from way back when I was a refugee in Kenya in the early 1980s and I realized that music could be used to heal the souls that suffer from various traumas.

PH: In visiting your website, I learned that your most recent trip to Uganda involved photographing a baby mountain gorilla. Please tell me more about this recent photographic tour and how the photographs might be featured in your upcoming concerts.

SM: This is the second time that I have visited Bwindi Impenetrable Forest to shoot photographs. Both times I have been fortunate enough to spend time with mountain gorilla families. This last time, yes, there was a baby that was very young and in its mother’s arms. My photographs capture the mother cradling her infant just after nursing. There was also a bit older baby – who thought it would be exciting to "play" with me. He didn’t like the fact that I was looking him straight in the eyes (to him a challenge), so he hit me in the head with a branch! (Fortunately it was not a very big one). I do use these photographs in my multimedia concerts.

PH: Your music is special to me because it touches my heart on a deep and healing level. You understand the healing power of music and have demonstrated this knowledge on your recordings and your work with the nonprofit. So how do you approach your music in regard to recording and performing? Some musicians pray or meditate beforehand. Do you have a ritual that you perform so that you become a clear channel for healing music?

SM: I do spend some quiet time alone before each concert. I definitely pray to have a good spirit in the hall that I am performing in. I also pray to open people’s hearts — that may open their hearts and minds for me to reach them with my music even though I am singing in a language that they don’t understand.

PH: Is there anything else you would like to add about your upcoming concert in Mount Vernon, Washington? Besides storytelling, healing music and humor, what else can the audience members expect?

SM: I will perform with my good friend, David Cullen, a Grammy Award winning guitarist who appears on many of my recordings. I will be performing my multimedia concert so your readers will get a chance to experience some of my Africa.

PH: Please describe the various traditional instruments you play, (flutes, percussion, thumb piano…)

SM: Kalimba (thumb piano), flutes – African and western, and voice.

Patricia L. Herlevi hosts the healing music blog, The Whole Music Experience and has been contributing to World Music Central since 2003. She also teaches music consciousness and music appreciation classes in western Washington. She especially enjoys music performed on acoustic instruments.

For more information about Samite go to http://www.Samite.com


Finger Lakes GrassRoots Festival to Present a Variety of World Music

Thomas Mapfumo
Thomas Mapfumo

A variety of world music will be presented at the 16th Annual Finger Lakes GrassRoots Festival of Music and Dance, to take place July 20-23 at the Trumansburg Fair Grounds in Trumansburg, New York.

Among the 70 bands and artists who will be performing on four stages over the four days are Thomas Mapfumo & Blacks Unlimited, Musafir, Michael Franti & Spearhead, Aurelio Martinez, Cherish the Ladies, Son de Madera, Folklore Urbano, Inner Visions Reggae, Mamadou Diabate, Conjunto Los Pochos, Preston Frank & His Zydeco Family Band, Walter Mouton & The Scott Playboys, Cyro Baptista & Beat The Donkey, Samite of Uganda, and Keith Frank & The Soileau Zydeco Band, among others. These musicians hail from Zimbabwe, India, Honduras, Ireland, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Colombia, Mexico, Mali, Brazil, Louisiana and Uganda, and they will bring their divergent cultures and music to the GrassRoots festival, in the tiny town of Trumansburg.

Thomas Mapfumo, of Zimbabwe (formerly Rhodesia) is a musical revolutionary, in all senses of the word. He combined the traditional music of his own culture with modern sounds of American R&B, and added strong political elements to his songwriting. This got him jailed, and eventually he had to leave the country to settle in the United States, but he won the hearts of his countrymen just the same… Thomas Mapfumo is the biggest celebrity in Zimbabwe, being even better-known than the Zimbabwean President. (Saturday, 7/22, 10:30 PM)

Mamadou Diabate, of Mali, plays the kora, a 21-stringed lute-harp made from a calabash gourd. Listeners often remark at the surprising elegance and beauty of the instrument and the style in which he plays. Mamadou is a cousin and student of Grammy-winner Toumani Diabate, and Mamadou was honored in 2006 to receive his first Grammy nomination, a spot in the “Best Traditional World Music” category for his album “Behmanka”. (Saturday, 7/22, 7:45 PM; Sunday, 7/23, 6:00 PM)


Samite of Uganda plays the flute and the thumb piano (kalimba), as well as the marimba and the seven-stringed litungu. He has toured the United States, Europe and Africa, and he is a tireless advocate involved with the issues of African peace, world poverty and the scourge of AIDS. Samite is also a documentary filmmaker, best known for his PBS documentary, “Song of the Refugee”. (Saturday, 7/22, Midnight).

Musafir hails from Rajasthan, an arid region in Northwestern India that linguistic and genetic evidence shows to be the ancestral home of the Gypsies (Roma). Musafir’s music combines ancient Rajasthani traditions with European Romany traditions, imagining what cultural niche the Roma may have filled when they still lived in India. (Saturday, 7/22, 6:00 PM)

Michael Franti & Spearhead are a highly political band who combine funk, reggae and hip-hop to create a unique sound that is eminently listenable and powerfully message-driven. His upcoming CD, “Yell Fire”, will not be released until July 25, yet is already being lauded by critics as one of the best albums of 2006. (Friday, 7/21, 10:00 PM)

While the U.S. Virgin Islands are best known for calypso and soca music, they are also home to one of the world’s most renowned reggae bands, Inner Visions. They have shared the stage with legends like Bunny Wailer and Burning Spear, and they bring their own unique soca-kissed sound to the genre. (Thursday, 7/20, Midnight)

Cherish the Ladies was the first all-female traditional Irish band in the world, but instead of being a novelty act, they established themselves as being some of the finest musicians ever to play the genre. They were chosen Best Musical Group of the Year by the BBC, Group of the Year by the Irish Voice Newspaper, and they received a Grammy nomination for a record they made with the Boston Pops orchestra, “The Celtic Album”. (Thursday, 7/20, 9:45 PM)

Aurelio Martinez is the voice of the African-Amerindian community in Honduras, taking the music of his culture (the Garifuna) around the world. He is a virtuosic musician and composer, and has a stunningly penetrative voice and lyrical style. (Friday, 7/21, 8:00 PM)

Folklore Urbano is a Colombian band, blending traditional Colombian music with the more modern sounds of urban jazz. Bandleader Pablo Mayor is a professor of music, at one time heading up the jazz program at the Universidad Javeriana in Bogotá, and brings his expertise to the arrangement of the band’s songs and is the driving force behind their unique and eminently danceable sound. (Sunday, 7/23, 4:00 PM)

Son de Madera is the premier group of the Son Jarocho movement, a music and dance genre from the area around Veracruz, Mexico. They are folklorists and deft arrangers, and they make clear the fact that Son Jarocho music is truly dance music. (Friday, 7/21, 6:30 PM)

Cyro Baptista & Beat the Donkey are a polyethnic mishmash of percussion, dance and melody, combined with humor and intriguing onstage antics. Cyro Baptista, from Brazil, is one of the music world’s most sought-after sidemen, and he has played on dozens of award-winning albums. Beat the Donkey is his unique vision, though, and he has assembled a team of crackshot musicians to help him get that vision across. It’s a very visual stage performance that one must see to believe. (Saturday, 7/22, 9:30 PM; Percussion Workshop Sunday, 7/23, 10:00 AM)

Los Pochos are a conjunto band from Los Angeles, California. Conjunto is a genre of Mexican-American music that blends traditional Mexican music with elements of polka and Texas swing. Los Pochos are one of the premier bands in the genre, and frontman Otono Lujan is perhaps the best young accordion player in his milieu. (Thursday, 7/20, 10:00 PM; Friday, 7/21, 10:00 PM; Sunday, 7/23, 6:45 PM)

Preston Frank and Keith Frank are two generations of Zydeco royalty, from Southwest Louisiana. Keith Frank is credited with being one of the progenitors of the “nouveau zydeco” movement in Louisiana, while Preston’s style is somewhat older, with a more rural sound. (Keith: Thursday, 7/20, 7:00 PM; Saturday, 7/22, 11:00 PM; Preston: Friday, 7/21, 3:15 PM; Sunday, 7/23, 3:00 PM)

Walter Mouton & the Scott Playboys are a legendary Cajun dance band, hailing from near Lafayette, Louisiana. The band is the house band at the off-the-beaten path traditional Cajun dancehall La Poussiere, where they play every Saturday night, except for once a year, when GrassRoots steals them away to perform in Trumansburg. (Friday, 7/21, 9:00 PM; Saturday, 7/22, 4:00 PM)

The Finger Lakes GrassRoots Festival is hosted by roots rockers Donna the Buffalo. Donna the Buffalo blends reggae, zydeco, country and rock and roll to create their unique and highly danceable sound. (Thursday, 7/20, 11:30 PM; Saturday, 7/22, 8:00 PM; Sunday, 7/23, 8:15 PM)

From far and wide, these amazing talents will diverge upon Trumansburg, bringing world flavor to their appreciative audience. Joining these bands and artists at the Finger Lakes GrassRoots Festival will be Country singer John Anderson, Grammy-winning country singer-songwriter Jim Lauderdale, modern acrobatic dance troupe Galumpha, rising young folk bands like the Duhks, the Avett Brothers and the Red Stick Ramblers, old time bands such as Mac Benford with Up South, the Bubba George Stringband and the Turtle Duhks, a chamber orchestra concert, and many, many more.

For more information go to: www.grassrootsfest.org.


Samite CD Presentation in New York

New York (New York), USA – Ugandan musician Samite will be presenting his latest CD, Embalasasa, on Thursday, May 18 at 7:30pm. the concert will be held at Makor, 35 West 67th Street, New York, NY. 212-601-1000. The tickets are $15/$18.

Embalasasa, Samite’s new CD on Triloka Records was released in March 2006. “On the title song, I call my grandpa to come with his walking cane and kill the modern Embalasasa, AIDS, a deadly disease transmitted through the most beautiful, vibrant and natural act,” explains Samite. The album’s songs draw upon Ugandan folklore, geography, and struggle to express words of allegory, healing, and hope. In addition to AIDS, his curative songs address war, intolerance, the death of a loved one, and survival. Samite is a survivor.

Samite was born and raised in Uganda, where his grandfather taught him to play the traditional flute. A teacher in Kampala put a western flute in Samite’s hands putting him on the path to become one of the most highly acclaimed flutists in East Africa before moving on to the kalimba (thumb piano). In 1982 Samite fled to Kenya as a political refugee after his brother was killed for his political views. He spent a period in a Kenyan refugee camp and traveling around Africa before making his way to Ithaca, New York, where he currently resides.

Delivering his mellifluous vocals in his mother tongue, Luganda, Samite mesmerized audiences playing on the kalimba, marimba, litungu (seven-stringed Kenyan instrument) and various flutes. The kalimba functions as a soothing heartbeat that transcends language and cuts straight to the core. But Samite has picked up many other elements along the path. He music has ranged from the songs of the musicians entertaining the King in his Mengo palace near Kampala—where Samite would stop every afternoon on his way home from school to eavesdrop—to traditional Ugandan music, as well as Motown, Barry White, and the Beatles.

Samite has had much success in radio throughout the country reaching #2 in the CMJ Music World Chart within the first month of his 2003 release, Tunula Eno.

Samite has also appeared live on the nationally syndicated radio program Echoes, and he recorded a live performance for the Ngoma Channel on XM Satellite Radio in Washington, DC.

Samite’s live performance on the nationally syndicated show E-Town has broadcast on over 120 stations as will his broadcast for the nationally syndicated radio show World Vision Radio.


Samite’s Embalasasa, Ugandan Roots

Samite – Embalasasa

Bloomington (Indiana), USA – Embalasasa is the name of Samite’s new CD released by Triloka Records on March 14, 2006. “On the title song, I call my grandpa to come with his walking cane and kill the modern embalasasa, AIDS, a deadly disease transmitted through the most beautiful, vibrant and natural act,” explains Samite.

The album’s songs draw upon Ugandan folklore, geography, and struggle to express words of allegory, healing, and hope. In addition to AIDS, his curative songs address war, intolerance, the death of a loved one, and survival. Samite is a survivor.“When I was twelve years old, I moved to the countryside to live with my grandparents,” says Samite. “While I was there, a purple, red, blue, and yellow lizard called embalasasa surfaced all over the country. It was so beautiful it begged to be touched, but it was poisonous. Whenever an embalasasa came into the house, we all climbed on top of a table and called my grandfather to come and kill it. We knew we were safe as long as grandpa was around; he used his walking cane to protect us.”

In 1982 after his brother was slain due to his political views, Samite fled Uganda—a place where “the fruit is sweeter than any other place in the world”—and spent a period in a Kenyan refugee camp and traveling around Africa before making his way to Ithaca, New York, where he lives now. “My music has allowed me to express myself during difficult times and happy times through the years,” says the exiled musician.

Samite is committed to sharing the medicinal power of music with children in need in Africa. On his return voyage to Uganda in 1997, with a documentary team filming the PBS documentary Song of a Refugee, he stopped in Liberia, Ivory Coast and Rwanda to see for himself if the dismal picture of these countries painted by the western media was accurate. He found that in spite of staggering losses of human life and devastation, the survivors of Liberia’s civil war, Rwanda’s genocide, and decades of civil strife in Uganda were full of hope and caring for themselves and each other with great resourcefulness and dignity.

Inspired by this experience, he founded Musicians for World Harmony (MWH), a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting peace through the healing power of music. MWH’s mission is to enable musicians to share their music to promote peace, understanding, and harmony among peoples, with a special emphasis on helping the displaced.

Samite brings his music to refugee camps and to orphanages for children with AIDS and children whose parents have died of AIDS. He works with organizations that are helping child soldiers get back on their feet after escaping warlords. “Every minute I spend with these children brings me energy and joy,” he says. “These are kids who have been pushed all the way down, yet somewhere deep down they still have dreams and hope. When I go there and play music with them, I see their spirits uplifted and am able to show them that things can get better.”

When it comes to the healing power of music, it becomes a personal thing for me,” says Samite, who lost his wife of twenty years to cancer. “When my wife was sick and she could not talk, I was able to reach her soul and soothe it with just a song from the kalimba. She would relax without having to take a sleeping pill or a pain killer.”

The kalimba, or “thumb piano,” is the soul of Samite’s music. He collects kalimbas, which have different names in different regions, but are found all over the African continent. The kalimba functions as a soothing heartbeat that transcends language and cuts straight to the core. But Samite has picked up many other elements along the path. The soundtrack of his life has ranged from the songs of the musicians entertaining the King in his Mengo palace near Kampala—where Samite would stop every afternoon on his way home from school to eavesdrop—to traditional Ugandan music, as well as Motown, Barry White, and the Beatles. But his earliest musical influence comes from his mother, who played music literally connected to his homeland.

My mother played an instrument that she would build,” remembers Samite. “In order to make the instrument, she dug a hole in the ground and covered it with a metal plate. We tied a string to the plate and ran it along a branch of a tree. As my mother plucked the string, the ground sang.”

Since I was young, I always paid attention to how songs always started with one instrument playing a part that others would build on,” he explains. On Embalasasa, the kalimba is joined by madinda (xylophone) and flute, an instrument common across Ugandan musical traditions. “It cuts through the drums and the singing and it soars on top like a bird making sure there is peace in the area,” Samiteexplains. “For me, the flute is an instrument of peace. I play it in areas where people don’t understand my language and I immediately make friends.” Piano, guitar, and percussion round out the foundation over which Samite’s vocals dance and play.

Samite’s latest album, Embalasasa, returns him to his homeland, to his roots, to the very ground that shook with his mother’s plucking, and to the vivid memories of his childhood, connecting the past to the present. “At times I feel I was chosen by the creator to bring this music to people. I don’t own it, I just share it,” concludes Samite. “Embalasasa is a reflection of where I am in my life right now. It is warm, happy, and adventurous. If this were a painting, the colors would be bold.”


Everything is Okay at the Okay Corral: Samite in Seattle

Tractor Tavern
Seattle, Washington
March 16, 2006

Ugandan musician and composer, Samite Mulondo is a funny guy. When I inquired through management at Seattle’s Tractor Tavern if I could get a copy of Samite’s play list, I was told he wouldn’t be using one. Since I’m terrible about remembering names of songs, especially ethnic names of songs, I panicked a bit. In any case, Samite performed many songs which I had either not heard prior or were re-worked and I didn’t recognize the new arrangements.

Samite and his band possess a wonderful sense of humor. Did Samite ever imagine that he would be playing Ugandan music at a tavern that resembles a dude ranch? Let me describe the Tractor Tavern to you because the place is so unique it deserves a description in a review. And it is my belief that a concert is more than just the performers and the performance. The venue and the audience also play starring roles, otherwise, you could just stay safely tucked at home listening to CDs. I’m one of those people that needs to drink in the entire atmosphere, picking up on all the sensations.

The Tractor Tavern is located towards the end of a trendy strip of overpriced boutiques, upscale restaurants and bars, but it represents the “old” Ballard since there is nothing trendy about the tavern’s gritty qualities, (some people would call it charm). It’s an oasis for artists seeking to escape gentrified Seattle. The tavern isn’t known for hosting African music concerts and in fact, usually hosts bluegrass, folk, rock and country music concerts. You walk into the place and you’re greeted by rows of holiday lights hanging from the ceilings along with old cowboy boots hanging like laundry throughout the tavern. A skull of a bull hangs over the stage, sandwiched between, two large red bright “T’s” that might as well stand for “tacky Texas” or “Texas T,” but are in fact, representative of the name of the tavern. (I wonder what the musicians thought of the huge tractor tires that must be bolted to the tavern’s walls?) Well, despite this cowboy décor, Samite and his band managed to magically delivered the African bush to this surreal setting.

The musicians crept onto the stage as audience members quickly grabbed a seat. With a kalimba in hand, Samite proved his great dexterity on the instrument, playing both gorgeous melodic phrases and intricate rhythms. Then he wooed the audience with his gentle and heartfelt vocals. It felt like a father singing lullabies to his children, soothing. I know that I forgot all of my troubles throughout the duration of the concert. I felt transported to a loving place. Speaking of being transported, the trio’s use of sound effects of “the bush” transported us to Uganda. Although I usually frown on technology, Samite makes good use of it, looping sounds that he either played his flute or sung over and at times, he created vocal polyphony through the use of a foot pedal. Samite commented, “this is what happens when you take an African from ‘the bush’ and give him technology.”

Samite played several instruments through the course of the concert, a kalimba cased in a small gourd, a standard thumb piano, a tiny wood flute, (an African piccolo), a larger side-blown wood flute, those pedals with looped effects and of course his signature vocals. Charlie Shew switched off on percussion, bass and electric guitar and Jeff Haynes played djembe, congas, snare and other
percussion. The musicians even played a cajón which traveled far from its South American origins to appear in Ugandan inspired songs.

Although I’m not good with song names, a few songs stood out for me. First there was the lightness and breath, Embalasasa which appears on Samite’s latest CD of the same name. The song with its hushed tones speaks of a beautiful lizard sporting rainbow colors that is also poisonous. Samite made the comment that the lizard is representative of AIDS which is killing so many people in Uganda and South Africa, (all over Africa). How could something as beautiful as sex cause such grief? Samite called on his grandfather who once killed the poisonous lizards to come and destroy AIDS.

Another beauty that stood out was a love song, Akanyonyi Kano that Samite’s mother had taught him. He dedicated the song to his daughter, who he mentioned wants to learn how to play piano well without practicing. And speaking of Samite’s mother, he had a funny story about her too. When his mother arrived to live with him in Ithaca, New York, a huge blizzard came through. His mother had never seen snow before and since she’s a short woman, she wanted to know how long the snow would last, because she can’t swim. Samite flashed a mischievous grin and joked that he used the snow to control his mother.

Samite wheeled out Mwatu off of his Tunula Eno CD and also the story about the difference between courting rituals in Uganda and Ithaca. You can findthe story on Tunula Eno , but it’s worth mentioning again. In Uganda when a man wants to marry a woman, he provides meat for her, but in Ithaca, where women are mostly vegetarian, a man must woo a woman with sprouts and tofu. As a vegetarian who despises sprouts, I find this story amusing every time I hear it. The audience, that must have been comprised of some vegetarians relished this story.

Similar to a West African griot or an Irish bard, Samite wove spells with his music and his stories. He and his musicians represented Jacks-of-many-instruments. And these Jacks invited audience members to yank their bodies out of the uncomfortable fold-up metal chairs and dance. “There is a saying that music is wasted if you don’t dance,” Samite informed us. When the band launched into a invigorating guitar & drum driven song, audience members accepted the invitation and made their way to the stage where they got funky African-style.

I could feel the healing taking place. I could feel souls being liberated from their daily grind. And we were beamed up to another realm where diseases, war and suffering don’t exist. Samite and his band did not just deliver a performance in a venue surrounded by new money and gentrification, they in fact, reminded us that we have souls that need to linger with spirits. The spirits were dancing under the double T’s and the watchful eye of an ancestral bull. The machismo of the old world where bulls are slaughtered and wars ravage humanity and Mother Earth, collided with generosity, compassion, love and hearty music. Ballard will never be the same. There are after all, other ways to spruce up a place besides money and the latest trend. You just can’t go wrong with love-inspired music.


Samite at HotHouse in Chicago February 24

Chicago (Illinois), USA – Ugandan musician Samite will be performing at HotHouse in Chicago on Friday, February 24. The concert begins at 7:30pm, $12 in Advance, $12 at the door, HotHouse MembersFree (21 & Over).

Samite was born and raised in Uganda, where his grandfather taught him to play the traditional flute. His primary schooling was within the King’s Courtyard where the royal musicians played for the King. That daily influence permanently instilled within young Samite, the rhythms and patterns of the traditional music of his people the Baganda.

Recognizing his talents, a high school teacher in Kampala put a western flute in his hands putting him on the path to become one of the most highly acclaimed
flutists in East Africa.

In 1982 he fled to Kenya as a political refugee, where he played with the Bacchus Club Jazz Band and the popular African Heritage Band. Increasingly drawn to instruments and rhythms from the traditional Ugandan music scene, he eventually played solo at the Mount Kenya Safari Club in Nairobi. Delivering his mellifluous vocals in his mother tongue, Luganda, he mesmerized audiences with original compositions played on kalimba (finger-piano), marimba (wooden ! xylophone), litungu (seven-stringed Kenyan instrument) and various flutes; traditional and western.

Immigrating to the United States in 1987, Samite now makes his home in Ithaca, New York. Samite’s sixth and newest CD is Tunula Eno, released by Triloka/Artemis.

Samite’s previously released CDs include his first tour-de force Shanachie release Abaana Bakesa (Dance My Children, Dance). His second release, Pearl of Africa Reborn , contains recordings which retain the essence of African tradition. Samite’s third US album Silina Musango, released by Xenophile, is a joyful collection of melodic, trans-cultural songs which are the heartfelt of Samite’s music. This CD reached #2 on the CMJ World Music Chart in the summer of 1997. Samite’s fourth worldwide release Stars to Share (Windham Hill Records) reinforces his reputation as an artist who has made a career out of confounding expectations.

Samite spent the summer of 1999 traveling through parts of Africa and filmed the PBS documentary, Song of the Refugee. This film, along with Samite’s fifth CD release Kambu Angels was inspired by a desire to present African refugee’s hope for the future in spite of the suffering and loss they have endured. Media coverage during the darkest days of crisis concentrated on violence and destruction, with little or no coverage of the reconciliation and healing process now underway. One of Samite’s goals is to open peoples’ minds and hearts to the common threads of human concerns, conveying optimism through stories and song. “I am convinced that we are all moved by the same desires, needs and emotions, regardless of the language in which those feelings are expressed“.