Now in their sixth year, the Songlines Music Awards celebrate and acknowledge the wealth of musical talent from around the world featured in Songlines magazine. Here are the four nominees in the Best Artist category, as voted by you.
Çiğdem Aslan for Mortissa on Asphalt Tango Records
Istanbul-born Aslan, the lead singer of the party-loving klezmer band She’Koyokh, strikes out on her own for her solo debut, Mortissa. Meaning ‘strong, independent woman,’ the album revisits classic 1930s Greek rebetika and its Anatolian cousin, smyrneika. With her dark, silky voice, Aslan expertly treads the fine line between tradition and innovation, resurrecting the love songs from smoky emigrant cafés.
With a nod to Miles Davis’ Sketches of Spain, Mulatu Astatke’s latest album highlights and celebrates the cultural diversity of Ethiopia, his home country. Looking more to Africa, composer and vibes player Astatke creates a triumphant mix of jazz and African music while still allowing for the effortless creative freedom that has seen him dubbed as the father and ultimate master of Ethio-jazz.
Rocker Manu Chao never had much time for the language of his homeland, and for years he refused to sing in French. And yet, here he is with 23 tracks of full-on French song. The album, originally released in 2004 but unavailable outside France until now, nods to the world of chanson and musette while keeping the iconic playfulness that has made Manu Chao a world music superstar.
Malian ngoni star Bassekou Kouyaté returns with a new line-up. Here he is joined by his two sons Madou and Moustafa and a few special guests, including co-producer Howard Bilerman of Arcade Fire fame. Recorded in Bamako just as Mali descended into chaos and turmoil in 2012, Jama Ko became Bassekou’s political manifesto to his distressed country.