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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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Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan: Musical Missions and Spiritual Highs

When Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan performs, people get high. They break into tears, fall into trances and feel like they’re flying. They may even see God.It’s something the Pakistani singer’s proud of—actually it’s his mission in life.Yet Khan, who performs Sunday with his seven-member “Party” at Roy Thomson Hall, has nothing to do with drug-induced states of ecstasy. As the world’s leading performer of qawwali, the devotional music of Sufi Muslims, his approach is purely spiritual.It’s a tradition that dates back to the 12th and 13th centuries. Sufi poems, praising Allah and his prophets to music, are sung in Urdu, Punjabi or the original Persian language. And a qawwali si...
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Music Review: Various artists - Music and Rhythm

The doldrums of contemporary popular music have led many artists to other cultures in search of inspiration. Increasingly, bands such as Talking Heads and the Police are incorporating African or West Indian rhythms into their sound. Just how rich and varied that mix can be is evident on Music and Rhythm, a double-record set featuring musicians from more than 15 countries. The “benefit” album was intended to offset the debts of the World of Music Arts and Dance (WOMAD), a large multicultural festival held in England last summer. The collection places rock musicians, from former Genesis singer and festival promoter Peter Gabriel to the Who’s Peter Townshend, alongside the primeval sounds ...
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Feature Article: Joni Mitchell - Portrait of an Artist in her Prime

It has been 24 years since Joni Mitchell left Saskatoon and eventually arrived on the coffeehouse circuit in Toronto’s Yorkville district. And although she has returned occasionally from her home in Los Angeles to visit her parents, last week was different. Under the glare of the media spotlight, Mitchell was back in Saskatoon for a triumphant homecoming. And the veteran singer-songwriter chose the Bessborough Hotel—where she often attended high-school dances—to meet the press on the western leg of a publicity tour to promote Chalk Mark in a Rain Storm, her best album in years. Donning a school beanie presented by three students at her old school, Aden Bowman Collegiate Institute, the 4...
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Music Feature: Chimes of Freedom - Amnesty International's Human Rights Now! tour

Even in the Live-Aid era of pop music, when star-studded concerts for good causes have become a fixture on the rock ’n’ roll calendar, it was a landmark event. Amnesty International brought its Human Rights Now! show to Toronto last week, with an eight-hour concert featuring six of pop’s leading artists, kicking off the North American leg of the most ambitious world tour in rock history. The six-week tour, which began in London on Sept. 2, was to touch down in Montreal last Saturday before continuing to scheduled concerts this week in Philadelphia, Los Angeles and San Francisco.While pop musicians in the 1980s have increasingly adopted social concerns and appeared in concerts aroun...
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Peter Gabriel - And I’ll Scratch Yours

He’s always been a trailblazer—in music videos, activism and cross-cultural projects. Now Gabriel, a Rock and Roll Hall of Famer (as Genesis member and solo artist), has reinvented the art of the covers album. In 2010, he recorded songs by his favorite artists on Scratch My Back with the plan of those same musicians returning the favor. Said Gabriel: “Rather than having a passive project where you do your own thing with people’s songs, I wanted to see if I could interact with the people who wrote them.” The result is And I’ll Scratch Yours, which features Arcade Fire tackling Gabriel’s “Games Without Frontiers,” Lou Reed toughening up “Solsbury Hill” and Feist, together with Timber Timbre, c...
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