Tag Archives: United Kingdom

Artist Profiles: Sona Jobarteh

Sona Jobarteh

Maya Sona Jobarteh was born in London in 1983. She is the first professional female kora player. Sona is part of the Jobarteh/Diabaté family of jelis (griots), one of the five major kora-playing jeli families from West Africa.

She is the granddaughter of the master jeli musician Amadu Bansang Jobarteh, who migrated from Mali to the Gambia. Her cousin is the well-known, celebrated Kora player Toumani Diabaté. Her mother is English.

A virtuoso kora player, Sona Jobarteh is a modern day pioneer in an ancient, male-dominated hereditary tradition that has been exclusively handed down from father to son for the past seven centuries. The British-Gambian artist has modernized the presentation of kora music and brings a rhythmic approach to her compositions that fits with her remarkable voice.

Discography:

Afro Acoustic Soul (Sona Soul Records, 2008)
Motherland: The Score (African Guild Records, 2010)
Fasiya (African Guild Records, 2011)

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Artist Profiles: Dub Colossus

Dub Colossus

British producer and multi-instrumentalist Dubulah (a.k.a. Transglobal Underground founding member Nick Page), collaborated with outstanding Ethiopian musicians in Addis Ababa and the result is Dub Colossus.

Influenced by the Ethiopian music golden era, Dub Colossus explored traditional Azmari styles, 60s Ethiopian pop, Ethiojazz and 1970s Jamaican Dub Reggae. A Town Called Addis, their critically acclaimed debut album was released in October 2008.

Dubulah (Nick Page)

Echoes of such diverse acts as The Abyssinians, Sun Ra, Tlahoun Gesese, Pablo Gadd, Hirut Beqele, Dick Dale and King Tubby can be heard amongst the ever-changing musical backdrop that is the album.

Discography

* A Town Called Addis (Real World Records CDRW155, 2008)
* Return To Addis
* Rockers Meet Addis Uptown (Real World Records, 2011)
* Dub Me Tender Vol. 1 (Real World Records, 2011)
* Addis Through the Looking Glass (2011)

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Artist Profiles: UB40

UB40

For several decades, UB40 have been popularizing reggae around the globe. UB40’s fortune changed at the beginning of 1980. They had spent many years performing live and developing a name for themselves when they were asked to joining ‘The Pretenders’ as their support act on a national tour. The group’s first album was released in September 1980. The album cover was a reproduction of the unemployment benefit card with the title Signing Off rubber stamped in red. It referred to ‘signing off’ the dole i.e. getting a job. It was an acknowledgement of the launch of the band as well as a celebration of their new status.

The first single with Graduate, their initial label was a double-A coupling of Food for Thought about third world poverty and ‘King’ an expression of grief for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. ‘King’ had seemed to be the favorite with live audiences but it was ‘Food for Thought’ that got the airplay and became the first hit. The single was released during the tour without the benefit of major label marketing or promotion and headed straight for the top five.

The group released their fourth album Labour of Love in 1983. It was their first direct tribute to the musicians who had inspired them. ‘Red Red Wine’ was the first single to be released from Labour of Love and it went straight to number one in the UK charts upon its release. The phenomenally popular single was in the British charts for two years. It gave UB40 their first worldwide hit and first American number one.

Success continues throughout the Nineties with the release of Promises and Lies which becomes the group’s biggest selling album worldwide selling in excess of 9 million copies worldwide and contained the hit single ‘Can’t Help Falling In Love ‘ giving the band their third UK number one.

Fathers of Reggae, a project which took three years to complete featured a series of legendary reggae artists such as Toots Hibbert, Gregory Isaacs and John Holt was released in 2002.

In 2003, UB40 received an Ivor Novello Award for International Achievement and secure a Top Ten album with the ‘Platinum Collection Labour of Love I II & III a triple box set comprising the whole ‘Labour of Love’ series. Their 22nd album, Homegrown includes ‘Swing Low,’ the official anthem for the England rugby team’s triumphant 2003 World Cup campaign in Australia. The song became the group’s 49th UK chart single.

In April 2005, UB40 united with Roger Daltrey Eric Clapton and John Mayer to play their first ever show at the Royal Albert Hall in aid of the Teenage Cancer Trust. The band was then invited to perform at the Live8 event in London’s Hyde Park, alongside U2, Pink Floyd, Coldplay, Madonna, Robbie Williams and The Who. A successful sell-out tour in the UK, Ireland and Europe completeds the year.

UB40 continued to tour throughout 2006 visiting Mozambique Australia New Zealand the Pacific Islands (i.e. New Caledonia Tahiti Tonga Fiji) Hawaii and continuing on to the US and Canada.

Discography:

Signing Off (1980)
Present Arms (1981)
UB44 (1982)
Labour of Love (1983)
Geffery Morgan (1984)
Baggariddim (1985)
Rat in the Kitchen (1986)
UB40 (1988)
Labour of Love II (1989)
Promises and Lies (1993)
Guns in the Ghetto (1997)
Labour of Love III (1998)
Cover Up (2001)
Homegrown (2003)
Who You Fighting For? (2005)
TwentyFourSeven (2008)
Labour of Love IV (2010)
Getting Over the Storm (2013)

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Artist Profiles: Talvin Singh

Talvin Singh

Talvin Singh was born in London in the early 1970s; as a young boy he was inspired to play tabla on his grandmother’s knees upon hearing the great masters on the TV or early recordings. His upbringing in a vibrant and multi cultural city and the sacred heritage of Indian classical & folk music provided an inspiring background. His tastes ranged from Ravi Shankar and Alla Rakha Khan to local bands like the Jam. It was this diverse appreciation for music that inspired the young boy to seriously consider training in tabla.

At 15, after convincing his parents and teachers to allow him to take early examinations Talvin was initiated to become a disciple of the great academic and musician Lachman Singh Seen of Punjab. After initially spending 3 years learning, the young man returned to London with a life long effort in mastering his instrument and upholding the traditions of the famous Punjab Gharana (school).

At 18, Singh continued his formal education in Art History. In demand for studio sessions, the young musician was becoming a sought after programmer producer and tabla artist in the late 1980s underground scene. This was an exciting period. Acid House was emerging as well as a fledgling UK dance scene. Still only 18, Singh embarked on a tour with renowned saxophonist Courtney Pine to Russia and Eastern Europe. An estimated 25 Pop albums of that time had the melodic tabla rhythms or frenetic programming of the ambitious tabla artist and producer. He worked with seminal artists Sun Ra and Massive Attack.

Talvin Singh closely collaborated with Bjork on her Debut (1995) album and her subsequent World Tour. Madonna asked him to do remixes for both her Ray of Light (1997) and Music (2001) albums. As a producer and cutting edge artist his studio sense is unique.

At the age of 23 he created his own record label Omni and released the concept album Calcutta Cyber Cafe as a limited release.

Singh toured the United States with the seminal record breaking Lollapalooza Tour playing to sold out mega stadiums in North America.

The early 90s urban club and music scene was rapidly progressing. Jungle and Drum & Bass was being born in clubs like the Blue Note in Hoxton Square, east London. His club night hosted early experiments with the self-invented Tabla-tronics instrument. New acts such as The Asian Dub Foundation, Joi and The State of Bengal were presented, as well as the music of A.R Rahman were introduced to a western audience for the first time. He conceived and licensed a compilation album Anokha Soundz of Asian underground (Island 1996) on his Omni label. One evening the electronica wizard Square Pusher (Warp) Bjork and India’s great Hari Haran jammed on the same stage. It was to celebrate Talvin’s 25th birthday.

Anokha was received to instant acclaim and his weekly Mondays became the stomping ground for tastemakers clubbers and recotrd label A&R reps. The highly evolved melody and complex rhythmic intensity of Indian Classical music meeting the technology and gritty electronica in Jungle began a music sub-genre a sound of Asian underground. Having created the environment & marketplace for the burgeoning movement he went to New York for a meeting with Island Records founder Chris Blackwell. Blackwell had introduced Bob Marley and U2 to the world. Island Records offered Talvin a world-wide recording deal andthe company was rewarded for its belief when Singh’s debut solo album OK (Island 1999) won the celebrated Mercury Music Prize for Popular Music and South Bank Prize for Popular music in the same year. OK was recorded over 3 continents and featured many musicians.

Singh presented a single pre-sold live show at the Barbican Centre London. Performing on stage were pianist Ruichi Sakamoto sarangi maestro Sultan Khan vocalist Cleveland Watkiss trumpeter Byron Wallen and other musicians. OK was hailed a rare achievement in modern electronic music its sophistication and depth making it an instant classic.

His relationship with Guruji his musical master is one in the true Guru-Shishya tradition. During his meteoric rise to acclaim the student would visit Jalandhar to be with his musical master time spent refining his musical aesthetic and spiritual focus.

His composition Butterfly (OK 1999) was chosen by choreographer Durshan Singh Bullah to celebrate midnight at the Millenium Dome London (1999); attended by British Prime minister Tony Blair and other dignitaries.

In 2000, the celebrated producer released his second solo album Ha (Island 2). During that Singh artist embarked on his debut Tabla solo World Tour Untouched. A film made titled Drum & Space. Also in 2000 Singh curated a festival at London’s South Bank Centre which included Iranian artist Susan Deyhiem Sultan Khan and DJ Howie B.

In 2001 Singh presented a composition at the Barbican Centre London. The Electronickfestival which included his contemporaries William Orbit Craig Armstrong & Aphex Twin Richard D. James; commemorated the achievements of Karl Heinz Stockhausen a pioneer in post-modern music and theory. He also opened the new wing of the Tate Britain gallery with a solo tabla performance attended by the Queen of England.

In 2002 Singh recorded his first Indian Classical solo tabla.

In 2003 Singh composed a piece for a Choir and Orchestra intended for performance in the cathedral Abbey Church of Saint Denis an 11th century gothic masterpiece in Paris.

Talvin Singh continues to write and produce music for personal projects & teaching as a Music Director, Hollywood & Bollywood icon.

Discography:

Ok (Island Records, 1998)
Ha (Island Records, 2001)
Back to Mine (DMC, 2001)
Vira (Navras, 2002)
Sweet Box (2008)
Songs for the Inner World (Naive, 2007)
Together (World Village, 2011)

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Artist profiles: Susheela Raman

Susheela Raman

Susheela was born in London in 1973 to a Tamil family. From her childhood she studied traditional Southern Indian music as taught by her parents. She grew up between two musical cultures: western and Indian.

At the age of 11 her family moved to Sydney where she started her singing career. Her strong stage presence was soon noticed. Wishing to delve deeper into her Indian cultural heritage she left for India to study with Shruti Sadolikar, a leading Hindustani classical singer.

Back in Great Britain in 1997, she sought to combine Indian and Western musical styles. In 1998 Susheela started to work with Joi, pioneers of “Asian breakbeat fusionist” music and was featured on their album One and One Is One (Real World).

Susheela Raman

In 1999 Joi won the BBC Asia Music Award. Susheela sang with Joi in Europe and the United States supporting the Eurythmics at Wembley Arena and winning over audiences unfamiliar with the new Asian sound.

She continued her fusion of South Asian and Western musical styles in her solo recordings.

Discography:

Salt Rain (Narada, 2001)
Love Trap (Narada, 2003)
Music for Crocodiles (2005)
33 1⁄3 (2007)
Vel (2011)
Queen Between (2014)

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Artist profiles: Karen Tweed

Karen Tweed

Karen Tweed was born in Willesden, London, UK in 1963. She has Irish and English roots. Tweed is an accordion virtuoso known for her work with The Kathryn Tickell Band (1990-1993), The Poozies, Roger Wilson, Sally Barker and her insatiable appetite for Irish sessions. Tweed has also recorded two releases with Ian Carr, Fyace (Fyasco) and Shhh (Hypertension).

She was a member of Anglo-Swedish band Swåp 1997-2005.

Partial Discography:

The Palm Of Your Hand, with Roger Wilson (1987)
Beating The Drum, with Sally Barker & The Rhythm (1992)
Signs, with The Kathryn Tickell Band (1993)
Chantoozies, with The Poozies (1993)
Drops Of Springwater (1994)
The Silver Spire (1994)
Irish Choice Tune Book (1994)
Courage, Love and Grace, with Pete Morton (1995)
Dansoozies, with The Poozies (1995)
Shhh, with Ian Carr (1995)
Fyace, with Ian Carr(1997)
Swåp (Amigo, 1997)
New Directions In The Old, with Roy Bailey (1997)
Come Raise Your Head, with The Poozies (1998)
Sic, with Swåp (Amigo, 1999)
Half As Happy As We, with The Two Duos Quartet (1999)
Infinite Blue, with The Poozies (2000)
Coda, with Roy Bailey (2000)
Raise your head: A Retrospective, with The Poozies (2001)
May Monday, with Timo Alakotila (2001)
Mosquito Hunter, with Swåp (2002)
One Roof Under, with Andy Cutting (2002)
Faerd, with Faerd (2003)
Changed Days Same Roots, with The Poozies (2003)
Each Step on the Way, with Tony Hilliard (2005)
Du Da, with Swåp (2005)
Gastbud, with Morten Alfred Hoirup and Harald Haaugaard (2005)
Essentially Invisible to the Eye (2012)

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Artist profiles: Stephen Kent

Stephen Kent

Pioneering didjeridu virtuoso Stephen Kent was born in Devon, UK. Through his efforts, he has brought the ancient Aboriginal sound into a contemporary context. ‘I want to capture the essence and potential of the didjeridu and to put it on the musical map as a serious instrument with incredible versatility,’ said the composer and multi-instrumentalist. During a long career with the didjeridu, Kent has developed an approach that is unmistakably his own exploring a remarkable range of playing styles in diverse musical genres. Along the way he has amassed a catalog of over a dozen critically acclaimed albums, including four solo releases and many others with his group projects Trance Mission, Beasts of Paradise and Lights In A Fat City.

Demand for Kent’s didj work has taken him all over the world playing recording and collaborating with top artists in divergent musical arenas from Leonard Eto of Kodo in Japan to Megadrums, with Airto Moreira and Zakir Hussain to Habib Koite of Mali and back home to the Oakland Symphony Orchestra’s new work by Afro-Cuban pianist Omar Sosa.

Raised in East Africa and the UK, Kent cut his teeth in the London music scene of the late 1970s with the band Furious Pig. As musical director of Australia’s Circus Oz he found a relationship with Aboriginal culture and the didjeridu. ‘Awakening to the Aboriginal world was like my own Big Bang. For me the recreation of a musical universe on the didj the culture of one note continues to this day,’ Kent says.

After his stint in the Circus Arts, Kent focused once more on music. He began to build a career around the sound of the didj forming Lights In A Fat City in London and touring throughout Europe and North America. The group’s landmark debut CD Somewhere (1987) was the first European release of contemporary didjeridu music.

In 1991 Kent relocated to the San Francisco Bay Area, where he co-formed the groups Trance Mission and Beasts of Paradise performing and recording to great public and critical acclaim in the U.S. and abroad.

With the ground-breaking and well-received Landing (City of Tribes) Kent embarked upon his solo career. The follow-up Family Tree (City of Tribes) is a collection of works from the aforementioned groups along withnew pieces that together trace the unique sonic journey Kent began two decades earlier.

A wholly original talent truly transcending categories Stephen Kent is an innovator on the global music scene with the ability to both trigger the imagination and transport the spirit. For the last nine years Stephen has worked to promote world music through his capacity as Thursday morning host of ‘Music of the World’ on KPFA-FM in Berkeley, California.

His 2004 CD Oil & Water (Family Tree) conjures up a musical landscape in which opposites meet and where cool conversations between distinct cultures begin. ‘It’s like good cooking combining strong elements from divergent sources with music as the common language‘ says Kent.

By bringing Kent’s didjeridu together with other extraordinary musicians – Moroccan musician Yassir Chadly, traditional Scots piper Jimi McRae and the sensational Tuvan throat singer Igor Koshkendey – Oil & Water opened the ears to a new world of possibilities.

In 2008, Stephen Kent co-founded Baraka Moon.

Discography:

I Don’t Like Your Face EP, with Furious Pig (Rough Trade, 1980)
Somewhere, with Lights in a Fat City (These Records, 1988)
City Simple Harmonic Motion, with Lights in a Fat City (1990)
Ocho Elefantes (Burnt Earth Music, 1990)
Songs From the Burnt Earth (Burnt Earth, 1992)
Sound Column, with Lights in a Fat City (Extreme, 1993)
Trance Mission, with Trance Mission (City of Tribes, 1993)
Spacetime Continuum, with Terence McKenna (Astralwerks, 1994)
Landing (City of Tribes, 1994)
Event Horizon (City of Tribes, 1994)
Meanwhile, with Trance Mission (City of Tribes, 1994)
Nobody Knew the Time, with Beasts of Paradise (City of Tribes, 1995)
Event Horizon Psi (City of Tribes, 1995)
Gathered on the Edge, with Beasts of Paradise (City of Tribes, 1995)
Head Light, with Trance Mission (City of Tribes, 1996)
Halcyon Days (Fathom, 1996)
Event Horizon Tao (City of Tribes, 1996)
Family Tree (City of Tribes, 1997)
Chameleon, with Badi Assad (Polygram Records, 1998)
A Day Out of Time, with Trance Mission (City of Tribes, 1999)
Memory Ground, with Lights in a Fat City (City of Tibes, 1999)
Burundi (Musisoft, 2000)
Oil & Water (Family Tree, 2004)
Stephen Kent Live at Starwood (Starwood Recordings, 2006)
Living Labyrinths (Family Tree, 2007)
Imagination Club, with Eda Maxym (Family Tree, 2007)
The Painted Road (Family Tree, 2016)
Wind Horse (Baraka Moon Music, 2017)

DVD:

Stephen Kent Live at Starwood (Starwood Recordings, 2006)

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Artist profiles: Sona Jobarteh

Sona Jobarteh was born in London in 1983. She is the first female kora virtuoso from the prestigious West African Jobarteh jeli (griot) family coming from a long line of hereditary musicians. She is the granddaughter of the master jeli Amadu Bansang Jobarteh and cousin to the celebrated kora maestro Toumani Diabate.

In her teenage years, Sona attended the Royal College of Music, the Purcell School of Music and worked on several orchestral projects including the ‘River of Sound’ with the Irish Chamber Orchestra. She also performed with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra Britten Sinfonia Milton Keynes City Orchestra and the Viva Chamber Orchestra, Toumani Diabate, Damon Albarn, Oumou Sangare, Kasse Mady Diabate, Sambou Suso, Juldeh Camara to name just a few. She also composed music for the film,Motherland: The Score” for the multi-award winning film Motherland.

Sona Jobarteh released her album Fasiya (West African Guild Records) in 2011. Fasiya includes renowned West African musicians such as Juldeh Camara Sankung Jobarteh Femi Temowo Baba Galle Kante Babacar Dieng and Surahata Susso.

Discography

Music of the Diaspora (5 Years Later Soundtrack) – (Souljazzfunk 2006)
Afro Acoustic Soul (Sona Soul Records 2008)
Motherland: The Score (African Guild Records 2010)
Fasiya (African Guild Records 2011)

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Artist profiles: Sheila Chandra

Sheila Chandra

Singing at her family home at age 12, Sheila Chandra discovered her voice – an instrument which has beguiled and mesmerized her audiences around the world ever since.

Born in London to a family of East Indian ancestry, Chandra resolved herself at an early age to be a singer and spent countless hours honing her voice a labor of love. But unsure how to break into the music business Chandra was ready when the chance came her way.

That chance came when Steve Coe, a writer and record producer was forming a new band as an outlet for his increasingly East Indian-influenced music. He came across an audition tape by Chandra and knew immediately that he had found his singer for the group Monsoon.

Monsoon’s first single, Ever So Lonely a song written around a raga used newly available production techniques to create a groundbreaking modern pop fusion sound. The single became a top ten hit with a quarter million sales worldwide. Yet six months later Chandra walked away from her blossoming success frustrated by a lack of artistic freedom. She came to the independent cottage industry-style label Indipop to explore her musical creativity and to learn the craft of composition.

Free to focus on her art, Chandra entered a remarkable and prolific two years with Indipop. Her solo albums for the label chronicle a profound transformation in the quality and depth of her work both as a singer and as a composer. Her subsequent years with Real World Records created another truly unique sound — forever setting a new standard in world music.

Originally released in 1984, Quiet was Chandra’s second solo album for Indipop and marked her debut as a composer. For the first time she faced the ‘blank page’ – the potentially most powerful reflector of the human soul. “I was terrified at the necessity of committing to paper or vinyl what I really thought or felt musically – I still am sometimes. I have since grown to deeply value the mental freedoms possible in the pure world of imagination that composing led me into. In it I open any social cultural or material restrictions. I can think thoughts I was perhaps unable to think of before.”

Quiet is the recording where that process began. Chandra along with a team of writers approached the album as a platform for her musical evolution and as a showcase for the possibilities she was developing as a composer and for her voice. Her goal was to force herself into a new territory to learn as a musician and writer by discovering obscure musical methods structures and elements.

Consequently, Quiet has no lyrics, the tracks untitled and the music explores a structural world of cyclic riffs and as many Eastern and Western tones and textures as Chandra could vocally bring to the work.

The album has a very different approach, acting as a prelude to Chandra’s innovative work on the Real World label. The music has strong melodies and an Indian influence but there are no dance floor drums or Indian percussion.

Originally released in 1990, Roots and Wings was written by Chandra after a four year sabbatical. During those years Chandra thought seriously about what constitutes an artist not only in terms of skill and imagination but also in terms of mastery of the self and mental independence.

Chandra’s writing also evolved with her heightened sense of artistic creativity. Already incorporating drones into her work Chandra discovered their multi-harmonics were irresistible backdrops to her solo voice. “Drones are magical things in terms of what they will allow me to do structurally psychologically and creatively.”

Roots and Wings contains the seeds of Chandra’s a cappella/solo voice style brought to the forefront on her groundbreaking Real World albums Weaving My Ancestors’ Voices and The Zen Kiss. The album also led Chandra on a series of small but significant steps to finding gateways between vocal cultures within the context of a single melodic line — a style which has since set her apart as one of the most influential and innovative world music masters.

In 2009, Chandra began experiencing symptoms of what was eventually diagnosed as burning mouth syndrome, as a result of which she is unable to sing, speak, laugh or cry without suffering intense pain. As a result of her illness Chandra retired from music. She turned her attention to writing self-help books.

Discography:

Out On My Own (1984)
Quiet (1984)
The Struggle (1985)
Nada Brahma (Indipop 1985)
Roots And Wings (Indipop 1989)
Silk 1983 – 199 (1991 – a best of album)
Weaving My Ancestors’ Voices (Realworld/USA: Caroline Records, 1992)
The Zen Kiss (Realworld/USA: Caroline Records, 1994)
ABoneCroneDrone (Realworld/USA: Caroline Records, 1996)
Monsoon (Mercury 1995)
This Sentence is True (Shakti/Narada, 2001)
Indipop Retrospective (Narada, 2003)
Imagined Village (2007)

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Artist profiles: Shammi Pithia

Shammi Pithia

Shammi Pithia is a British Asian composer and producer based in east London. Shammi follows the path of great artists such as Nitin Sawhney, Talvin Singh and Niraj Chag.

In 2008 Shammi released his debut E.P., Cinema for the Ears which led to the release of his album Audio Descriptive and the singles The Seeker and Pacifist Theme in 2010.

Shammi, who also plays the bansuri performs his music live around the UK with the backing of his band Flux and other artists.

Discography:

For The Ears (2007)
The Seeker (2010)
Audio Descriptive (2010)
Paredolia (2011)
Cosmic (2014)
Shadowlines, with Flux (2016)

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