New Age Retailer (Vol. 18, No. 5, pp.80-1) - ?The album absolutely explodes from the stereo??
Performers include: Angelique Kidjo, Dorothy Masuka, Maria De Barros, Tarika, Women Of Mambazo, Kaizza, Sibongile Khumalo, Souad Massi, Nawal Mlanao, Sally Nyolo, Khadja Nin, Dobet Gnahore.
Adapter: Khadja Nin.
Liner Note Author: Jacob Edgar.
Illustrator: Nicola Heindl.
Photographers: Akwa Betote; Tom Cockrew; Michel DeBock; Bobby Holland .
Translator: Karine Wong.
While the African music scene is currently dominated largely by men, there has never been any stigma to speak of against women performing (with the possible exception of some of the North African Islamic nations). The catch is that women tended historically to spend less time playing instruments in favor of other portions of the rituals and work, and stayed primarily within the vocal field as a result. Putumayo is taking advantage of this to combine three of their favorite forms of compilation: African music, women's music, and vocal music. The range here covers essentially the whole of Africa, with representatives from each of the major areas. South African Judith Sephuma opens the album with a contemporary piece, followed by Benin's great Angélique Kidjo with something based on Brazilian idioms. Following the Portuguese influence a step further (or closer, as the case may be), Maria de Barros performs a bit of morna from Cape Verde before the album makes a return to South Africa with Sibongile Khumalo. A quick run to the east allows for a nice Malagasy work from Tarika, and a jump north to Cameroon precedes the third South African piece, this time a bit of classic jazz from Dorothy Masuka. Firmly moving away from the South African sphere of influence, a wonderful piece from the often-excluded Comoros is included, preceding Ivorian Dobet Gnahore with a chipper work. A beautiful ballad from Souad Massi's Island release takes up the North African end, followed by an acoustic guitar-based rhythm from Burundi's Khadja Nin. Closing the album is a bit of female isicathamiya, courtesy of the Women of Mambazo, led by Joseph Shabalala's wife prior to her murder. Overall, it's quite a good album, with nice coverage of the various regions and the use of some underexposed but noteworthy artists. The only possible complaint would be that it's a bit heavy on South African music. ~ Adam Greenberg
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