Tautumeitas

Laptops, extended lifespans, the means to reach any point on Earth within 24 hours—modernity has its advantages. The past, meanwhile, beckons with things like community, patience, art, wisdom. The six women of the Latvian folk group Tautumeitas appeal to our traditional vein with polyphonic stories but also remind us—with old-new and local-global beats and tones—that we can meld eras and cultures and have it all. On their almost-debut … More Tautumeitas

Urna and Kroke: Ser

The grasslands of China’s Inner Mongolia region are far from any ocean, but Urna Chahar-Tugchi observes that her home turf is often called the “Sea of Songs”—a fitting metaphor for a rich musical culture and for Urna’s awe-inspiring voice, rising like a wave and sailing across a soundscape seemingly as expansive as her childhood horizon. She grew up in a family of herders … More Urna and Kroke: Ser

Idan Raichel: And If You Will Come to Me

Idan Raichel reshaped Israel’s music landscape, integrating Middle Eastern, Ethiopian and Latin sounds and taking his band, the Idan Raichel Project, onto the world stage. He has notably performed at a Nobel Peace Prize ceremony in Oslo, the dedication of the Martin Luther King Jr. memorial in Washington and with Palestinian singer-qanun player Ali Amr in New York. Raichel has written more than … More Idan Raichel: And If You Will Come to Me

Sopa de Pedra: Ao Longe Já Se Ouvia

In the folk tale, a hungry traveler stops in a village and asks for food. Rebuffed, he fills a pot with water from a stream, puts a stone in it and places it over a fire. Villagers intrigued by the idea of “Stone Soup”—delicious, the clever traveler insists—surround him and eventually offer ingredients (carrots, onions, seasoning) and share the meal. Like the story that inspired their name, the women of Sopa de … More Sopa de Pedra: Ao Longe Já Se Ouvia

Anandi Bhattacharya: Joys Abound

Avatar, shampoo, pyjama, bungalow, veranda, nirvana—all words from India adopted into an array of western languages. Sharing works both ways: Kolkata-born singer Anandi Bhattacharya observes, “I do not believe I was meant to imbibe my own culture alone.” A child prodigy who began studying Indian classical music at age three, she was also exposed to the global sound spectrum through … More Anandi Bhattacharya: Joys Abound

Fonseca: Agustín

Accustomed to naming each of his albums after one of its standout tracks, Fonseca switched gears when he realized his newest release would coincide with his wife’s giving birth. Thus did Agustín become his eighth baby and also his third. It may be a cliché to paint a successful artist in the rosy light of his songs, but the Colombian singer-songwriter embodies his music in myriad ways, composing a portrait of dedication to family, art and society. His causes … More Fonseca: Agustín

Ooldouz Pouri: Waiting for the Dawn

Flowers, dreams and music have this in common: They bloom even in harsh climes. An elegant example is Waiting for the Dawn, Ooldouz Pouri’s first solo album. The hour of sunrise, even the year, may be in doubt. The point is that she sings—passionately, radiantly—her voice floating on songs from bygone eras that inspire hope in difficult times. Pouri was born in Tabriz, in northwestern Iran, where … More Ooldouz Pouri: Waiting for the Dawn

Zaz: Effet Miroir

Camus argued that travel is a spiritual testing, stripping us of habitual surroundings and taking us not away from but toward our essence. Zaz, one of the most popular French artists abroad, did three world tours in four years and says her adventures reshaped her sense of self. Known for retro-modern French chanson and jazz manouche, on Effet Miroir (Mirror Effect), her fourth album, she presents a more nuanced and eclectic soundscape, 15 songs … More Zaz: Effet Miroir

Shauit: Apu Peikussiakᵘ

Song can be a pathway to survival for threatened languages. Over the past generation the 10,000 speakers of Innu in Québec and Labrador have seen a creative surge in new music. The folk-rock duo Kashtin gained prominence in their community and in broader Canadian society, especially after their songs were featured on the TV series Due South and later on soundtrack compilations. It was at a music festival in Maliotenam, an Innu First Nations … More Shauit: Apu Peikussiakᵘ

BraAgas: O ptácích a rybách

In the enchanting voices of the Czech quartet BraAgas, the sovereigns of sky and water serve as messengers, bearing wise counsel, ill tidings, memory and witness to lovers young and old. On O ptácích a rybách (About Birds and Fishes), the four women—Kateřina Göttlichová, Michala Hrbková, Karla Braunová and Michaela Krbcová—mine traditional Bohemian and Moravian sources for their sixth album, which soars on their stirring harmonies and … More BraAgas: O ptácích a rybách