Youssou N'Dour et Le Super Étoile de Dakar (Senegal)
Youssou N'Dour has revolutionised Senegalese music over the last thirty years. His keening, plaintive tenor has become Africa's most instantly recognisable voice. With a musical creativity that is constantly evolving, growing richer over the decades, he is perhaps unique in his ability to connect with people beyond the limitations of language. Super Étoile is one of the finest groups in Africa today.
Youssou N'Dour et Le Super Étoile de Dakar appear courtesy of Nonesuch Records
Shikisha (South Africa)
Shikisha is a group of Zulu women, originally from Durban, who mix the traditional Zulu, Sotho, Xhosa and Shangaan dances, chants and drumming of day-to-day tribal life with the searing electric sounds of the contemporary South African township. The name 'Shikisha' means 'belt it out, dance and sing like you never have before'. The intricate beadwork designs on their costumes have specific meanings for tribal, religious and social groups.
Shikisha appear courtesy of Shikisha
Angélique Kidjo (Benin)
Angélique's work has cross-pollinated the West African traditions of her childhood in Benin with elements of American R&B, funk and jazz, as well as influences from Europe and Latin America. She explores the subtle lines of interconnection spanning the globe, creating unity through diversity. Throughout her career, she has collaborated with many legendary international artists, including Santana and Gilberto Gil. Angélique is a radical and successful performer with a larger-than-life style and talent.
Angélique Kidjo appears courtesy of Music Life Productions Ltd
Mariza was born in Mozambique and grew up in Lisbon, where she has developed her rich, profound and highly original approach to 'fado'. Like the best soul or blues music, fado really excels when it is performed by someone who can release pure feeling, allowing it the freedom to roam; raw, emotional and just a little dangerous.
Mariza appears courtesy of World Connection
Akim El Sikameya (Algeria/France)
Algerian-born singer/violinist Akim El Sikameya's music fuses Arabic and Andalusian music traditions. Born and raised in the musical hot-spot of Oran (hometown of fellow musicians Khaled and Rachid Taha) he moved to Marseille where he recorded his debut album 'Atifa/Oumi'. With the calm tones of his violin dovetailing with boisterous flamenco guitar, his sound is of cultures not colliding but sharing, of friendship not feuding.
Akim El Sikameya appears courtesy of Lila Records Ltd
The Touaregs are the nomadic Berber people of the southern Sahara desert and Tinariwen, from the remote north east of Mali, are legendary throughout the region. Their music revolves around the electric guitar, onto which are transposed the traditional melodies and rhythms of their people, creating a raw, soulful and utterly new form of music. The songs provide insights on nature, politics, love, exile, loss and the realities of desert life.
Tinariwen appear courtesy of Tapsit/IRL Ltd/EMMA Productions
Modou Diouf and O Fogum (Senegal)
Modou is a teacher and maestro of the sabar drum, a Senegalese cousin of the djembe, which is played with a hand and a stick rather than with two hands. His family are steeped in the music of the 'Sabar Oulof', a drumming genre that was once reserved for Senegalese royalty. He comes from the Serre peoples of Senegal and he and his family (O Fogum) spring from a long lineage of Griot musicians, blending the rhythmic power of the sabar with the high-pitched chatter of the tama into intricate narratives of rhythm.
Modou Diouf and O Fogum appear courtesy of Music Worldwide Ltd
Thomas Mapfumo and The Blacks Unlimited (Zimbabwe)
Thomas Mapfumo is known as 'The Lion of Zimbabwe' and the father of electric mbira music, which rapidly became a tool of the liberation struggle prior to Zimbabwe's independence in 1980. He created the country's dominant style of Chimurenga ('revolution') music, founding 'The Blacks Unlimited' in 1978. Thomas sings mostly in Shona and includes traditional mbiras in his line-up of guitars, bass, brass and drums. He is both creator and master of a unique musical genre.
Thomas Mapfumo and The Blacks Unlimited appear courtesy of Real World Records Ltd
Geoffrey Oryema (Uganda)
Forced to flee his native Uganda in the seventies, Oryema writes and performs his own hauntingly melodic music. Singing in both English and Acholi, Geoffrey possesses a sumptuous voice that can flow from lower to upper registers like water. His songs range from moody ballads to tender soul musings ? an orchestral mix of organic and electronic music. Blending the culture and traditions of Africa with the structures of Western pop, his songs are often introspective and their themes include, naturally enough, reflections on the nature of exile.
Geoffrey Oryema appears courtesy of Real World Records Ltd
Siyaya is a dynamic young arts company from Bulawayo's Makokoba township. With a raw collective energy, they bring Zimbabwean culture and tradition into the twenty-first century with a powerful re-interpretation of traditional tales, music and dance. Their visually exciting and contemporary approach to theatre includes a dazzling expression of vocals, dance and music.
Siyaya appear courtesy of Sabela Music Projects Ltd
Maryam Mursal (Somalia)
The language and music of Somalia is a mixture of African and Arabic influences. Maryam Mursal's life and art have intertwined to produce a sound that profoundly reflects these influences; a powerful blend of Islam and Africa that she calls 'Somali Jazz'. As an artist she uses her voice to rail against the injustices heaped upon African women. Maryam is a refugee living in exile but her extraordinary talent brings her a heartfelt welcome wherever she sings.
Maryam Mursal appears courtesy of Real World Records Ltd
Kanda Bongo Man (Congo)
One of the pioneers of modern soukous, Kanda Bongo Man gave the world the infectiously charged Congolese dance style Kwasa Kwasa. Soukous is the pop sound of Africa; originally blended from Cuban rumba, Congolese rhythms and stripped-down disco in the clubs of mid-1970s Kinshasa. The name comes from the French 'secouer', 'to shake'; its hallmarks are uplifting rhythms, mesmerising guitar work and close harmony vocals.
Kanda Bongo Man appears courtesy of Ryko Disc
Emmanuel Jal (Sudan)
Emmanuel Jal is a rap star with phenomenal success in East Africa. His number one Kenya hit 'Gua' brought him to a wider public. A former child soldier in war-torn Sudan, he spent five years with the Sudan People's Liberation Army before escaping to Nairobi at the age of eleven. He later formed several music groups and produced his first solo single. His combination of music and politics is a powerful voice for Save The Children and the Campaign To Stop The Use Of Child Soldiers.
Emmanuel Jal appears courtesy of Riverboat Records/World Music Network
Coco Mbassi (Cameroon)
A famously soulful West African singer and songwriter known for her mellow vocals and charismatic presence. Coco made her name as a backing vocalist with leading African and French pop artists based in Paris, including Salif Keita, Oumou Sangare, Touré Kunda, Manu Dibango and Ray Lema. Together with her husband, the guitarist Serge Ngando Mpondo, she has produced two albums, offering some characteristically stirring acoustic performances.
Coco Mbassi appears courtesy of Conserprod Ltd
Chartwell Dutiro (Zimbabwe)
Chartwell Dutiro has been playing mbira most of his life ? including twenty years playing for spirit medium ceremonies in Zimbabwe. He has also toured the world as an mbira player, saxophonist and arranger with the internationally acclaimed Thomas Mapfumo and The Blacks Unlimited. He communicates a deep level of understanding and appreciation of Zimbabwean culture through his charismatic and spiritual approach to music.
Chartwell Dutiro appears courtesy of Ingoma Productions
Ayub Ogada and Uno (Kenya)
A member of the Luo people of western Kenya, Ayub plays the traditional lyre of his tribe, the nyatiti. While the music is based upon traditional African roots, time spent in the varied cultures of his upbringing has influenced both his musical style and lyrical focus. Ayub appears at Eden with his band, Uno.
Ayub Ogada and Uno appear courtesy of Real World Records Ltd
Daara J (Senegal)
This charismatic, award-winning young group have taken international audiences by storm over the last year or so with their global and socially conscious redefinition of hip-hop. Incorporating rumba, ragga, Spanish guitar and a myriad of African beats, their music is instantly infectious and delivered with impeccable artistry.
Daara J appears courtesy of Wrasse Records