Posts Tagged ‘international women’s day’

Women of the World: Fatoumata Diawara & Angelique Kidjo

Posted on March 12th, 2013 in Recent posts, Reviews by .

Royal Festival Hall, London, March 8

Words by Simon Broughton (photography by Roger Thomas)

I’ve been to many memorable concerts in the Royal Festival Hall, but few as special as this. Fatoumata Diawara, from Mali, having been a newcomer (and awarded in our Songlines Music Awards last year) has become a mature artist. She strode onto the stage with stature – elegantly dressed in red and yellow robes and turban. It was International Women’s Day and every mention of the fact drew applause. But Fatoumata has also become a musical ambassador.

As the South Bank’s artistic director Jude Kelly pointed out in her introduction, Fatoumata has recently pulled together many of the top Malian stars to record ‘Mali-ko’, a peace song for Mali and speaks for the women of Mali in many of her songs. ‘Moussou’ is a song paying tribute to the women of Mali – “women give birth to rich people, poor people, heads of state” – and she said she hoped to see a female president of Mali one day. Seeing the success of Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, President of Liberia and Joyce Banda, President of Malawi – and given the current situation in Mali – one hopes it’s not too long.

Towards the end of her set, Fatou took off her turban and started dancing, flinging her head backwards and forwards, sending her beaded hair flying. One of her new songs, ‘Tounkan’, was a celebration of African women and African dance. Fatou neatly demonstrated the rhythmic and dance links between her native Wassoulou region and other styles in Ethiopia, Morocco, Congo, South Africa and more. “We are from the same African roots”, she said. The only disappointment was a muddy sound on the electric guitars, which would have been gorgeous if the musical lines had rung out clearly.

“We all come from Africa,” said Angelique Kidjo, in what made a natural progression from Fatou. Angelique, from Benin via New York, just exudes stage presence – she’s tough and pugnacious after Fatou’s stately elegance, punching above her weight. She entered singing solo, followed gradually by her band on piano, percussion, bass and guitar.  The topics of her songs include freedom, education and the horrendous custom of female genital mutilation. She paid tribute to her father who encouraged his daughters to do what they wanted to do and paid tribute to Miriam Makeba, a role model for Angelique, who used music to further a cause.

Kidjo took a circuit through the audience and then invited them on stage – much to the disquiet of the security guys – for some joyous final numbers, including her signature song ‘Agolo’ (which features on our Songlines Music Awards CD). Fatou returned in casual civvy clothes and many other girls from the crowd did spectacular dancing to Mamadou Sarr at the front of the stage on djembe. It really was a night to remember.


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UN Women – Official song ‘One Woman’ released

Posted on March 8th, 2013 in News, Recent posts by .

UN Women releases its official anthem on International Women’s Day

The first UN agency to have its own theme song, UN Women have released its official anthem today, marking International Women’s Day. Originally performed in 2011, the track has become an anthem for the UN organisation dedicated to gender equality issues and the empowerment of women. ‘One Woman’ was composed by Graham Lyle and British-Somali singer-songwriter Faham Hassan while the lyrics were penned by Beth Blatt, founder of the charity Hope Sings.

The song was inspired by the stories of women who had been supported by UN Women and the agency hopes that ‘One Woman’ ‘will become a rallying cry that inspires listeners about the mission of UN Women and engages them to join in the drive for women’s rights and gender equality.’

Jerry Boys, who has produced albums by Ali Farka Touré, Buena Vista Social Club and Omara Portuondo, produced the song with Blatt. Among the participating artists are some Songlines favourites: Rokia Traoré; Angélique Kidjo; and Anoushka Shankar. Other contributors include Zhang Liangying (China), Ximena Sarinana (Mexico), Yuna (Malaysia) and Vanessa Quai (Vanuatu).

The song is now available as a download through iTunes and Amazon.

Watch the official video below

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International Women’s Day and the World of Women Festival

Posted on March 4th, 2012 in Recent posts by .

March is here and spring seems to be close on it’s heels. But it’s not spring we’re looking forward to this month, it’s International Women’s Month (IWM) and specifically, International Women’s Day (IWD) on March 8.

Why Women? 

Oxfam explain on their site that ‘empowering and equipping a woman with the resources to work her way out poverty transforms entire communities down the generations. The bleak reality of the situation of many women living in developing countries is highlighted by the inequalities they face in the world of work. Women do two-thirds of the work, yet receive only ten per cent of the world’s income and own just one per cent of the means of production.

Women of the World Festival

Not sure how to celebrate IWM, then check out one of the many events that are part of this year’s Women of the World Festival (WOW). Launched last year at London’s Southbank Centre, the festival was such a success, that they’re not only returning this year, but also reaching across the Atlantic with WOW Baltimore

Jude Kelly, artistic director of the Southbank Centre and founder of WOW, says ‘throughout history, many women’s achievements have gone unnoticed or unsung. I created WOW – Women of the World Festival to celebrate the formidable power of women to make change happen, to remind us of our history, to draw attention to injustice, to enjoy each other’s company and to encourage men to add their support as we set out to achieve a fairer world.’

WOW Baltimore finishes this weekend, but WOW Southbank Centre starts this Wednesday. The five-day event will feature some of the world’s top female musicians and speakers including Sinéad O’Conner, musician and singer Sarah Gillespie, scientist Jocelyn Bell Burnell and India’s first female police offer and social activist Dr Kiran Bedi. 

In the spirit of IWM, the festival is working with London schools, including Mulberry School for Girls, to programme a conference. The conference will bring together school girls and their mothers to discuss a 21st century education for girls. WOW is also supporting ongoing mentoring schemes for women.

For more information:

IWM website
Oxfam’s IWD website
WOW Southbank Centre
WOW Baltimore

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