This Cape Verdean/Cuban singer, based in France, is a complex artist, whose sets can vary in tone and stylistic direction from night to night. Her globalFEST set had more Brazilian than Cape Verdean flavor, and favored the subdued, jazzy side of her repertoire. She is also known for revealing a more rootsy and rowdy selection of songs. Either way, there is no denying Mayra's charisma, or, above all, her liquid gold voice. Always a pleasure to behold.
Led by saxophonist, scholar, and Ethiopian maestro extraordinaire Danny Mekonnen, Debo Band's core inspiration is the pop music explosion in Addis Ababa in the late '60s and early '70s, the "golden era" so well documented in the Ethiopiques CD series on Buda Musique. What sets Debo Band apart from other acts that play classic African styles is that they make the music sound contemporary, as if it was just invented now. The energy and power is overwhelming. Jazzy, sometimes out, brass solos kick up the dynamic.
Riffing on both traditional Afro-Colombian rhythms such as mapalé and bullerengue as well as a mosaic of American genres—punk, hip-hop, and jazz—newcomer MAKU was founded in 2009 by guitarist Camilo Rodriguez as an outlet for folklore-influenced compositions.
The largest and most diverse group of musicians on any globalFEST stage this year was the Silk Road Ensemble, who took over the Ballroom for a wide ranging set of Central Asian music. This group grew out of the Silk Road project initiated a few years back by Yoyo Ma. What was heard was completely enchanting.
This dynamic Israel-based band draws fundamental inspiration from the folklore of Yemen. But with a near orchestra-sized lineup including strings, brass, percussion backing charismatic frontman Ravid Kahalani, the influences and sonic references run deep. From folksy interludes to full on dance band blare, this group delivers passion through complex, thoughtful arrangements.
The name is created from the first names of these 4 young Malian musicians, starting with Samou Bagayoko, son of the amazing Amadou and Mariam. SMOD's hip hop is tuneful and mostly gentle, with some clear nods to the bluesy, strong melodies of A&M. SMOD's self-titled debut CD was produced by Manu Chao and has his strong stamp. It was kind of nice to hear the music stripped bare, with just bass and acoustic guitar backing the raps. That said, this is not the most hard-hitting of African hip hop by a mile, but it is a fresh and welcomed sound from the streets of Bamako.
This young Haitian singer-songwriter is one to watch. He's making an interesting fusion of Haitian roots styles and global sounds. Belo recorded his third CD, Haiti Debout (Haiti Stand Up), in Paris with a number of African musicians, including Blick Bassy of Cameroon and Malian kamelengoni master (of Salif Keita fame) Harouna Samake.
Nogueira is a singer and songwriter from Brazil. He is the son of composer João Nogueira and Ângela Maria Nogueira. He was a samba musician throughout childhood and adolescence, but became a football player, following a father's will.After a serious knee injury, Nate decided to venture into the already well-known path of samba.