Best Artist: 2017 Nominees

Aziza Brahim
Abbar el Hamada on Glitterbeat

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Amazon
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Click to listenBorn and raised in a desert refugee camp and now resident in Spain, singer Aziza Brahim has become the most potent voice of the dispossessed Saharawi people from the territory now known as ‘Occupied Western Sahara.’ Her relaxed and cool voice creates a striking juxtaposition with the political anger of her lyrics of the songs on Abbar el Hamada. This classy and highly polished set was a Top of the World in #116.

Felix Lajko
Most Jottem on Fono

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Click to listenHungarian violinist Felix Lajko. Inhabits an undefinable world between folk, improvisation and jazz. This live album was recorded at a concert in Budapest and is one of his best recordings in years. Most Jottem is full of novel arrangements of traditional tunes and his own compositions, his virtuoso fiddling accompanied by viola, double bass and three backing singers. A Top of the World in #120.

Baaba Maal
The Traveller on Marathon Artists

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Click to listenAfter just one new studio album in 15 years, the Senegalese singer appeared to have lost his mojo. But The Traveller turned out to be a stunning comeback. Including some choice key collaborators such as Johan Hugo of The Very Best, this is a mature but exhilarating set on which the personal and the political were seamlessly intertwined into one of the most purposeful statements of his career. A Top of the World in #115.

Ricardo Ribeiro
Hoje e Assim, Amanha Nao Sei
on Warner Music Portugal

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Click to listenFor Hoje e Assim, Amanha Nao Sei on Warner Music Portugal
One of the finest male fado singers of his generation and still only in his 30s, Ricardo Ribeiro’s voice has a character and emotional range that is well beyond his years. Here he combines classic fado from Amalia Rodrigues’ repertoire with less conventional fare, ranging from the upbeat to the poignant, but always delivered with a convincing intensity. A Top of the World in #120.