Catrin Finch & Seckou Keita
This duo are no strangers to the Songlines Music Awards – together they won the Cross-Cultural Collaboration award in 2014 for their debut Clychau Dibon and last year Seckou Keita was nominated for his collaboration with the Cuban pianist Omar Sosa. This year, Welsh harpist Catrin Finch and Senegalese kora player Keita are the deserved winners of the Fusion award for SOAR. The long-awaited follow-up to Clychau Dibon not only matches the elegance and invention of that wonderful record but exceeds it. It is an imaginative celebration of the osprey, the bird of prey that spends the winter in West Africa but has recently begun breeding in mid-Wales for the first time in several centuries – a connection that is brilliantly echoed in the weightless interplay between kora and Welsh harp. From the deep, sonorous note that emanates from Finch’s harp on the opening track to the filigree trills of Keita’s kora on ‘Téranga Bah’, it is an exquisite album that demands repeated listening. The pair then demonstrate their range as their stringed magic arcs from gently drifting tranquillity to soaring duets of mind-boggling virtuosity, covering traditional Welsh laments to ancient West African tunes via a delightful and unexpected foray into Bach’s Goldberg Variations. This is global fusion at its very finest, conceived and executed with both purpose and passion.