Posts Tagged ‘Sahara Soul’

September 2014: Top 10 UK Live Events

Posted on August 29th, 2014 in Live, News, Recent posts by .

After a brief hiatus for our festival-packed summer, the Top 10 gig guide is back, with a list of ten of the best concerts happening this September, so you don’t miss out!

Swanage Folk Festival

O'Hooley & Tidow black and white

Set in the majestic surroundings of Dorset’s Jurassic Coast, Swanage Folk Festival is a three-day affair featuring both local artists, and acts from further afield. The incredibly infectious Blackbeard’s Tea Party will be performing twice over the weekend – including a Saturday night ceilidh – and Songlines favourites O’Hooley & Tidow (pictured) will play on the Sunday evening.

Where & When: Across Swanage, Dorset, September 5-7, More info.

Tashi Lhunpo Monks


The Tashi Lhunpo Monks started their mammoth European tour last month in Dorset, but return to the UK for a further 19 dates this September. The monastery which was forced out of Tibet following the national uprising in 1959 is now based in Karnataka, India. Cultural exchanges are occasionally organised by various trusts worldwide, and this is a great chance to see some wonderful performances by the Tibetans.

Where & When: Across The UK, September 6 – October 18, More info.



This September offers a rare opportunity to catch Celtic superstars Altan at an intimate venue in London. Cecil Sharp House will play host to the Irish group who have been a stalwart of the Irish traditional music scene for the past few decades.

Where & When: Cecil Sharp House, September 11, More info.

Africa Utopia


Africa Utopia at the Southbank Centre celebrates the influence of the African diaspora upon ideas on how to improve our world through ways of thinking about culture, sustainability, technology and community. There are talks, debates and workshops across the weekend – including a bustling street market – and performances by the Kinshasa Symphony (pictured), and five-piece Simply Soweto Encha.

Where & When: Southbank Centre, London, September 12-14, More info.

Mulatu Astatke


With a glistening career spanning 50 years, Mulatu Astatke has established himself as one of the finest musicians and bandleaders in Ethiopia. Last year’s Sketches of Ethiopia was a Top of the World, not to mention a personal highlight, and he recently headlined the brilliant Shambala festival. Catch him at the Royal Festival Hall this September for what promises to be an outstanding show.

Where & When: Royal Festival Hall, London, September 13, More info.

Ladysmith Black Mambazo with members of the Royal Ballet in Inala


This unique collaboration at the fabulous Sadler’s Wells Theatre sees the award-winning choreographer Mark Baldwin work with choral superstars Ladysmith Black Mambazo to produce a brand new production, which fuses South African and Western cultures on stage. Its combination of contemporary dance and choral mastery will prove to be a unique experience, so make sure you catch the show during its four-day residency this month.

Where & When: Sadler’s Wells Theatre, London, September 17-20, More info.

Lulo Reinhardt


The grand-nephew of Gypsy-jazz legend, Django Reinhardt, takes to the stage this September for a tour across the UK. He combines a variety of different influences in his work, including flamenco, Latin, and Brazilian jazz.

Where & When: Across the UK, September 17-October 29, More info.

The London African Music Festival


This September sees the 12th London African Music Festival take place. Spread across 16 venues over ten days, the festival features some fantastic performances from world-famous acts including Niger’s Bombino, Guinea’s Sékouba Bambino, and Ghana’s King Ayisoba. There is a London debut for Malian songstress Mamani Keita, and the British-Ghanaian funk band Yaaba Funk (pictured) are set to tear up Rich Mix on September 19.

Where & When: Across London, September 19-28, More info.

Çiğdem Aslan


Following the success of last year’s Mortissa, Çiğdem will tour the UK this September and October. The ‘Making Tracks’ tour opens at the Brighton Dome, and finishes up at Cambridge’s Junction three weeks later.

Where & When: Across the UK, September 21 – October 7, More info.

Sahara Soul


Following last year’s sold-out event, Sahara Soul returns to the Barbican with a younger generation of artists set to take the stage. Western Sahara’s Aziza Brahim (pictured) has been going from strength to strength recently, having released Soutak her first album for Glitterbeat Records – earlier this year. There will also be performances from Noura Mint SeymaliNabil Baly Othmani, and Touareg band Tartit. Read more about all these artists in this issue’s cover feature (#103, October issue).

Where & When: Barbican Centre, London, September 27, More info.


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New issue (October, #103) on sale now!

Posted on August 29th, 2014 in Recent posts by .


Sahara Soul, Nicola Benedetti and Sam Sweeney

The October 2014 (#103) edition is on sale in the UK from today. The free exclusive 15-track covermount CD features ten tracks from our latest Top of the World albums and a guest playlist by renowned solo percussionist, Dame Evelyn Glennie.

Featured on the Top of the World CD are new tracks from Afrobeat pioneer Orlando Julius with The Heliocentrics and Brazilian master accordionist Richard Galliano, plus a track from Martyn Bennett’s classic album Grit that has been reissued on Real World Gold. We’ve also thrown in an 18-track bonus Polish CD for your listening pleasure.

This issue also includes…

Sahara Soul – Andy Morgan talks to the leading artists performing at this very special show coming to the Barbican on September 27, including Noura Mint Seymali, Aziza Brahim and Nabil Baly Othmani.
Nicola Benedetti – Jo Frost speaks to the classical violinist about exploring her Scottish roots and the folk tradition.
Jyoti Hegde – The world’s only female rudra veena player speaks to Jameela Siddiqi about her love affair with this Indian string instrument prior to her appearance at Darbar Festival.
Mor Karbasi  – The Ladino singer speaks to Simon Broughton about her three homelands.
Sam Sweeney – Tim Cumming talks to Bellowhead’s Sam Sweeney as he sets out to retell the incredible story of his violin steeped in history and made during World War I.

• Beginner’s Guide to Guinean Sékouba Bambino, ahead of his appearance at the London African Music Festival in September.
• Festival Pass: Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, San Francisco.
• My World: A playlist and interview with Evelyn Glennie.
• Introducing… Gisela João and CC Smugglers.
• Spotlight on Dele Sosimi.
• Quick Fire: Sam Lee, Peggy Seeger and Sheema Mukherjee.
• What’s New, including the release of Finding Fela on September 5 and the French Summer of Unrest.
• Cerys Matthews calls on all festival-goers with a craving for the good life to visit north Wales on September 20.
• Reviews of the latest CD, book and world cinema releases.

Buy the new issue here.

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New Issue Preview | October #103

Posted on August 27th, 2014 in Recent posts by .


Ahead of the Sahara Soul concert at London’s Barbican on September 27, in the next issue Andy Morgan talks to the leading artists performing at this very special show, including Noura Mint Seymali, Aziza Brahim and Nabil Baly Othmani.

The free exclusive 15-track covermount CD features ten tracks from our Top of the World albums and a guest playlist by pioneering percussionist, Dame Evelyn Glennie. We’ve also thrown in an 18-track bonus Polish CD for your listening pleasure.

Other features include classical violinist Nicola Benedetti who explores Scotland’s folk traditions; Ladino singer Mor Karbasi; a Beginner’s Guide to Guinean singer Sékouba Bambino; our Essential 10 Scottish albums, plus our extensive CD, book and world cinema review sections.

On sale in the UK from August 29. Click here to purchase your copy now.

Mor Karbasi has Moroccan-Sephardic roots, was born in Jerusalem and now lives in Spain. Simon Broughton speaks to the Ladino singer about her three homelands.

Ahead of her performance at London’s Darbar Festival, Jyoti Hegde, the world’s only female rudra veena player, speaks about her love affair with this Indian string instrument

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Introducing… Noura Mint Seymali

Posted on August 15th, 2014 in Recent posts by .


Alexandra Petropoulos speaks to the Mauritanian griot singer about the future of Moorish music

Noura Mint Seymali was destined for a life of music. Born into a griot family and the daughter of Seymali Ould Ahmed Vall, who was instrumental in opening up Mauritanian music to the world, it was in her blood. “Music is the lifeblood of my culture and family, it’s something truly inseparable from my life. I always dreamed of being able to expand Moorish music in new directions as [my father] did.”

Having begun her musical career at the age of 13 singing for her step-mother, Dimi Mint Abba, Seymali has gone on to do just as she hoped, introducing Mauritanian Moorish music to the 21st century.  But Seymali’s life could have easily taken another route. While there are many respected women griots, not everyone in Mauritania takes kindly to female musicians. “It can be extremely difficult for women who come from griot families to marry outside the caste. Often they have to stop performing entirely. This is because the choice ultimately rests with the husband. Even if the husband has no particular issue himself, he is likely to receive a lot of pressure from his extended family to keep his wife ‘in check.’ People may say it’s haram, sinful. Mostly it’s just jealousy dressed up as righteousness.”

Thankfully, Seymali married another griot, guitarist Jeiche Ould Chighaly, in 1996 and they have been playing together ever since. Seymali sings and plays the ardine (a harp played exclusively by women) while Chighaly plays guitar and tidinit (an ngoni-like lute), and together they have been exploring the possibilities of modern Moorish music. Seymali sees her experimentation as a way of better understanding the source music. She clearly has a profound respect for it: “it is beautiful, sacred, complex, competitive, and often insular. Our music chronicles our history, consummates social bonds, and transmits messages.”

On her first international release, Tzenni, Seymali and her husband are joined by Ousmane Touré on bass and Matthew Tinari on drums. “It is the crystallisation of a new approach to the music,” she reflects. “It’s a more raw and focused sound than any of my previous recordings.” Seymali’s impressive voice shines over Chighaly’s psychedelic guitar and tidinit – but at the same time it is ingeniously rooted in something much deeper, older. “Some of the repertoire we draw on can be hundreds of years old. Griots have been ‘updating’ forever, but it becomes newly relevant if played in a state of true conviction, bent around a new time and place,” she explains. “This means not being afraid to change or feeling like you have to follow every new thing.”

The album’s title means to spin or circulate in Hassaniya and the music twists and twirls in trance-like repetition, without ever seeming to settle. “We live in a very unstable moment – things are changing so fast now. Tzenni reflects that. But it’s also about the power of faith, serenity, and joy in the face of all these things that are beyond our control.

Tzenni is a Top of the World in the Aug/Sept (#103) issue.

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