Sunday, October 16, 2011

Africa Calling: Angelique Kidjo SUNDAY (10/16)

Afropop Amazon: Angelique Kidjo (photo: Andrzej Pilarczyk)

There's been such a wealth of great African music in town this month. Although I had to miss Bassekou Kouyate at Duke this Friday, I did this preview for dP's blog The Thread.

I did get a chance to see most of the Mau a Malawi: Stories of AIDS project at UNC that same evening. What a dedicated group of musicians, student actors, and volunteers. To mention only some is to slight all, but the vocalists in particular are so wonderful; I'm now a huge Lizzy Ross fan. To read more about the Mau a Malawi concept album, see my Indy story about it here. To visit the Stories of AIDS webpage, go here, where you can download the album for a donation to the arts-based charity Talents of the Malawian Child. It's for a good cause, yes; but just as importantly, it's great original music that deserves to be widely heard.

As a preview to that evening, Peter Mawanga, the Malawian co-producer of Mau of Malawi, gave a sweet, free show at The Station on Wednesday prior. Some of the guys from Kairaba backed him up, as well as others from the show. I got to get a good look and listen to Peter's "Jozi," his custom-made South African guitar. He and Mau a Malawi collaborator Andrew Finn Magill are still actively songwriting, and they played one song that they had written only 2 days before, dedicated to "those women who go through so much," in Peter's words, "before being forced to sell their bodies on the streets in a country that is ravaged by HIV and AIDS. This song is for those ladies." How rare and moving it was to hear a man speak about sex workers with such compassion; I felt like I was understanding the song, although the lyrics were in Chichewa. That IS the univeral power of music to communicate beyond language, a gift Peter has in great measure.

Kairaba played an opening set, intense as usual; one hears them growing in confidence, as they are about to head into the studio this week to record a first album. Kairaba's spiritual head, Diali Cissokho, always wins a crowd. His euphoric moment in the show this time came when he (somehow) balanced his kora upside down, and still managed to played it. I didn't have the stamina to take in Kairaba and Toubab Krewe out at Shakori Hills last weekend, but from what I hear, Diali did a surprise, walk-on vocal with one of Toubab Krewe's songs--the instrumental just happened to be a song he knew from Senegal. I wish I could have been there to see THAT. Lesson learned--always expect the unexpected from this charismatic griot of Carrboro.

The African music streak ain't over. Beninese singer Angelique Kidjo hits UNC's Memorial Hall this Sunday (10/16). Here's my Indy pick writeup about her. I saw Kidjo a few years back, touring with Santana at Walnut Creek. The global pop diva still commands respect as a strong voice from, and for, Africa. I was really stunned by this bare, unplugged duo performance that shows just how strong that voice is:


Angelique Kidjo @ UNC Memorial Hall, Sunday (10/16) at 7: 30 pm; tickets $10 (student) to $39 price range.


Listen to Bonjour Africa, Sundays 4-6 PM on WNCU 90.7 FM with host Bouna Ndiaye

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