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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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Paul Simon - Syncopated storytelling

Is storytelling the art of words or the alchemy of sound? For Paul Simon, master songwriter, it all begins with a beat. “You have to catch the right rhythm to get people’s attention,” he told Maclean’s recently. “If you get it wrong, people don’t hear you.” Sitting backstage last month at Toronto’s Massey Hall, prior to one of two sold-out concerts, Simon explained the genesis of his latest album, You’re the One, an exquisite collection of warm, gentle songs about fate and mortality.Rhythm and rhyme have been the cornerstones of Simon’s celebrated career, as far back as the mid-1960s when he and partner Art Garfunkel first gained prominence as America’s top folksinging duo. Th...
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Music Review: Paul Simon - Graceland

Paul Simon’s new album, Graceland, opens with an accordion wheezing erratically, as if trying to catch its breath. Then, a thundering drumbeat and a pulsing bass gradually add a more certain rhythm. By the time Simon begins to sing, the strange music has cast a hypnotic spell. That first song, “The Boy in the Bubble,” is a stirring introduction to the colorful sounds of South African music, a topsy-turvy world where guitars play the role of percussion instruments instead of providing the melody, and voices create rhythmic accents. Simon recorded “Bubble,” like much of Graceland, in both Johannesburg and New York. By melding the traditional, vigorous urban sounds of black South Afri...
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Music Feature: Johnny Clegg - Scatterlings of Africa regroup

His tour bus has broken down. His cellular phone is running low on batteries. But Johnny Clegg has faced far greater obstacles in his career.During the 1970s, the feisty South African musician was arrested and harassed because the biracial makeup of Juluka, the groundbreaking worldbeat group he formed with Sipho Mchunu was at odds with apartheid.When Mchunu quit in 1985, Clegg carried on with a new band, Savuka—only to face tragedies. In 1989, a close friend, activist David Webster, was assassinated. Then, three years later, Savuka’s Dudu Ndlovu was murdered during factional tribal warfare.Since Savuka’s last album, 1993’s Heat, Dust & Dreams, Clegg’s barely been heard from. Now he’s bac...
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Ladysmith Black Mambazo - Long Walk to Freedom

Although still best known for singing on Paul Simon’s Graceland album, the South African gospel group, led by Joseph Shabalala, has its own impressive history, including two Grammy winning albums. Here, Mambazo re-records some of its classic songs with Emmylou Harris (“Nearer My God to Thee”) and Taj Mahal (a Delta style “Mbube”), while Sarah McLachlan and Melissa Etheridge lend their voices to Graceland’s “Homeless” and “Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes” respectively. Sonic sweetness. 
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