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Khadja Nin

WOMEN OF AFRICA (Putumayo) • Various Artists

A heavenly trip down roads I can only hope someday to see. This precious disc is a glorious antidote for ennui, loneliness, claustrophobia, misogyny, and many of the forms of small- mindedness.

Quite a few of the artists herein are icons in their own countries and abroad, understandably. Jacob Edgar, the A&R mastermind over at Putumayo Records, has compiled another stunning collection. It's hard even to believe, when you close your eyes, that it's music from the same planet that brought you Marilyn Manson and Jessica Simpson.

Two wonderful pages of photo montage reveal the physical beauty and magnetism of the singers, their exotic and sometimes royal splendor as otherworldly as their music. Angelique Kidjo is familiar to many listeners, having toured or recorded with the likes of Carlos Santana, Dave Matthews, and Branford Marsalis, to name a few. But there are eleven other fantastic artists or groups I'd not heard, many equally compelling.

I can't stop playing the cut by Maria de Barros (raised in Mauritania, but singing the music of her mother's land, a series of islands off Senegal known as Cape Verde) "Mi Nada Um Ca Tem (I Have Nothing)." The first four cuts are undeniably strong, and the last one is a heartbreaker, by the group Women of Mambazo. The founder of the group was Nellie Shabalala, whose husband Joseph is the leader of Zulu group Ladysmith Black Mambazo (who rose to international fame through Paul Simon's Graceland CD). Nellie was mortally wounded by an assassin in May 2002, and her husband was wounded attempting to protect her.

In characteristic Putumayo form, there is a multi-lingual and very attractive booklet identifying the artists, with the signature illustrations of Nicola Heindl, whom we must meet. Naturally there's not space to go into all the unspeakably great musicians on the disc (like the guitar and bass players on queenly Sibongile Khumalo's "Mayihlome") but the CD names and websites of most the singers are graciously included in the licensing information (and we’ve provided links below for your pleasure).

We will continue to bring you reviews of Putumayo Records, we like what they're doing, a lot. Women of Africa is an essential compilation, and we strongly recommend that you buy it, here. • FG


return to covers       listen to our clips

putamayo.com       women of africa page at putamayo

angeliquekidjo.com      mariadebarros.com

tarika.nu       souad massi online

khadja-nin.com       about judith sephuma 

kaissa.com       about sibongile khumalo

nawali.com      dobetgnahore.com

about dorothy masuka     

our review of another putamayo compilation

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