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The home of music journalist Nicholas Jennings, author of Lightfoot, the definitive new Gordon Lightfoot biography from Penguin Random House.
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Mike Stevens & Okaidja Afroso - Where’s the One?

What do you get when you pair a versatile harmonica player from Sarnia, Ontario with a gifted singer and multi-instrumentalist from Ghana? The spirited duo known as Canadafrica. On their first album together, Stevens, a Son House devotee who’s married blues harp with bluegrass, and Okaidja, a former member of the Ghana Dance Ensemble who emigrated to Portland, Oregon to work with master drummer Obo Addy, cook up a tasty roots stew. There are folk and bluegrass flavors on Like a Little Bird and You Ain’t No Good, and numbers like Abifao and Dagarti benefit from the African spice of Okaidja’s percussive workouts. Some are message songs: Just a Boy, which has the hypnotic pull of Ali Farka Tour...
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Rokia Traoré - Beautiful Africa

A genuinely boundary-busting artist, Traoré doesn’t follow in the footsteps of fellow Malian singers like Salif Keita or Oumou Sangaré. Thoroughly modern, she bridges songs in English, French and her native Bambara with rock instrumentation and offbeat collaborations. On her 2003 album, Bowmboï, Traoré recorded with the Kronos Quartet. For her latest, the statuesque singer has teamed up with PJ Harvey’s producer John Parish for a sound that is rock-tinged, yet distinctly African. The album features as much Gretsch as n’goni, the traditional Malian lute, and Traoré isn’t afraid to add some distorted lead guitar. Striking dynamics abound throughout, from the whisper-to-a-scream Kouma to the sp...
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Feature Article: Africa's Cult Musician - Fela Anikulapo Kuti

When one of Africa’s most celebrated musicians receives visitors at his home in the Nigerian capital of Lagos, he lounges in little more than a striped bathing suit, which tends to slip down in the back. But when Fela Anikulapo Kuti jumps on stage to perform, his costume is a study in flamboyance. He wears a blue jump suit and pants embroidered with saxophones. His act is equally colorful. He sways his saxophone and waves his arms to keep his 27 musicians in line. Between blasts of his multicolored sax, Fela sings in pidgin English the provocative lyrics that have aroused the ire of the military government of his native Nigeria—and which have won him the title of the Afrobeat King, as critic...
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Feature Article: A vital and vibrant beat - African music in Canada

Nadine McNulty remembers well the day that K’naan appeared at Toronto’s Afrofest. The year was 2000 and McNulty, as artistic director, had booked the then-unknown Somali-Canadian rapper to appear in the afternoon on the main stage at the popular outdoor festival. Rain showers failed to dampen the crowd’s enthusiasm for K’naan, who performed with just one backup vocalist and a tape playback. Recalls McNulty: “It was drizzling and here was this young guy just kicking it in front of this sea of umbrellas. It’s amazing to see how he’s now taken the world by storm.”K’naan, this year’s Juno Award winner for Songwriter and Artist of the Year, is a major Canadian star and international crossover act...
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Liner Notes: Tarig Abubakar & the Afronubians – Live!

When Tarig Abubakar died in 1998, the world lost one of African music’s greatest ambassadors. Having arrived in Canada from Sudan as a refugee 10 years earlier, Tarig made it his mission to bridge cultures with music. His band, the Afronubians, was a veritable United Nations ensemble, with musicians from East, Central and West Africa working alongside Canadian and even Russian-born players. Together, they forged a vibrant, rhythmic sound that attracted a loyal following on the Toronto club circuit. But Tarig was never content with just local exposure. He had visions of spreading African music far and wide. Between 1995 and 1997, he took his Afronubians on three cross-Canada tours, playing re...
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