Renae Ninneman, host of “The Language of Music” offers just some of her favorite world music tracks from 2016
Track: Imn (hymn)
Artist: Zmei3 (pronounced Zmay-tray)
Album: Rough Romanian Soul (released April 22, 2016)
This band creates beautiful and heartfelt music from the harsh realities and struggles of a post-Communist rule. The female vocalist is Paula Turcas, a soprano opera singer who gave up classical music in the pursuit of a more truthful artistry grounded in the struggles of everyday life. The band’s name is inspired by an ancient Romanian anti-hero, misfit dragon – a rebellious figure, who rarely prevails, but remains committed to his ideals. The track Imn is gorgeous and haunting, featuring Paula’s voice, a background vocalist, and a vibraphone.
Track: Dilbarake Nazinin
Album: Sandaraa (released May 6, 2016)
The word “Sandaraa” means “song” in Pashto (a language primarily spoken in Afghanistan). The band features a mish-mash of artists that display the best of world fusion music. You’ll hear the vocalist Zeb Bangash from Pakistan, klezmer virtuoso Michael Winograd from Brooklyn, violinist Eylem Basaldi from Turkey, accordianist Patrick Farreel from the USA, and a few more talented folks. Their musical styles mashed together is incredible, and Dilbarake Nazinin displays the varied instruments and cultural influences all in 1 track.
Track: Nas Horas
Album: Jupiter (released March 11, 2016)
Silva is a young Brazilian artist. According to the label, this album is a smooth collection of pop songs inspired by bossa nova, R&B, electronica and hip-hop. This track will be familiar to Western ears because it’s just plain groovy, with a Latin edge to it.
Track: Timtar (Memories)
Album: Azel (released April 1, 2016)
I’m always telling people, in such a blues-infused station as KZUM, that music from West Africa, particularly Mali, Mauritania, and Niger, are the root of all blues music. If you like blues, you should feel comfortable listening to Bombino (his first album, Nomad, was produced by Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys). Bombino’s real name is Omara Moctar. He is of the Tuareg tribe, and was involved with various Tuareg rebellions against the government of Niger. He has a very dramatic life story, but when he was young and in exile, someone brought him a guitar, and that was that. He tours globally and performs with many other famous guitarists and musicians.
Track: Na Sane
Artist: Noura Mint Seymali
Album: Arbina (released September 16, 2016)
Noura Mint Seymali is an extremely talented singer from Mauritania, and also has mastered the ardine, a harp reserved only for women. She was born into a prominent line of Moorish griot (a griot is a member of a class of traveling poets, musicians, and storytellers who maintain a tradition of oral history in parts of West Africa.) She began her career at age 13 as a supporting vocalist for her famous step-mother. Her music has influences from Arabic classical music and North African/Saharan music. The track Na Sane features rolling desert guitar riffs and her majestic, passionate voice.
Track: Habib Galbi
Artist: A-WA (pronounced AY-WAH)
Album: Habib Galbi (released June 10, 2016)
The 3 sisters of A-WA represent a unique pocket of the world. In their childhood home in rural Israel their whole family was musical, and they listened to many different kinds of music, such as Greek music, Yemenite music, Jazz, R&B, Hip Hop, Reggae, Progressive rock and more. The 3 young women in this group are sisters, descendants of Jews who were brought to Israel from Yemen in 1949-1950 as a part of something called Operation Magic Carpet.The girls were brought up speaking the unique Yemenite dialect of Judeo-Arabic. Their music is often sung in this language, and sounds like traditional Yemenite music infused with electronic and hip-hop elements. The track Habib Galbi is a fantastic example of their high energy, danceable world music.