Rotem Cohen: Kol Kach Yafeh Lach

When it comes to synergistic contrasts, to matching moods and cultural elements that don’t typically appear together and then making them pop, Rotem Cohen has few equals. He began his career writing for some of Israel’s leading singers (Rita, Boaz Sharabi) and ultimately decided to face the audience himself. His first two albums established him as a virtuoso of Hebrew song immersed in Spanish … More Rotem Cohen: Kol Kach Yafeh Lach

Sandra Portella: Banho de Fé

Samba isn’t just Brazil’s most iconic cultural symbol, it’s also a useful lens. From its roots in Africa to its emergence in the slums of Rio de Janeiro, from attracting the most talented artists to inspiring pulsing love stories, from bringing together people of different classes and races to channeling (through Carnival) every aspect of Brazilian history, it reflects and radiates countless facets of the nation’s identity and soul. On Banho de Fé (Shower of Faith) … More Sandra Portella: Banho de Fé

Lea Salonga: Bahaghari

Could the singing voice of Disney royals Mulan and Jasmine be that of a real princess? Vocal power aside, Lea Salonga is both regal and down to earth, the star who illuminates Broadway, the West End and the global concert circuit but never forgets home. Wherever she flies, her countrymen can follow her through her column in The Philippine Daily Inquirer. Her philanthropic work with World Vision Philippines focuses on expanding educational … More Lea Salonga: Bahaghari

Koum Tara

Like most urban settlements, Lyon began with people and currents from other places—Roman refugees camped at the confluence of the Saône and Rhône rivers. For two millennia the rivers have framed the city’s heart and in recent years La Confluence, France’s largest urban renewal project, has transformed the area near the original encampment into a vibrant residential, business and cultural hub. Now Lyon is home to another kind of convergence, a dazzling … More Koum Tara

Cocanha: i ès ?

Occitan, mother tongue of Eleanor of Aquitaine and Richard the Lionheart, had a literary golden age in the 12th century and produced the great singer-songwriters of the Middle Ages, the troubadours and trobarises. It was still widely spoken in southern France in 1904 when the Occitan poet Frédéric Mistral won the Nobel Prize in Literature, but the 20th century was hard on the storied Romance language (nearest relative: Catalan). Though commonly … More Cocanha: i ès ?

Lucibela: Laço Umbilical

Feather light arrangements carry Lucibela and her low, soft-power voice like a princess in an open litter, high enough off the ground so her countrymen can see how effortlessly she floats, near enough to hear her singing their story. Laço Umbilical (Umbilical Cord), her first album, is a masterpiece in Cape Verdean Creole, combining melancholy mornas and brisk coladeiras with Brazilian influences; mixing love songs to a beautiful archipelago and ballads about a … More Lucibela: Laço Umbilical

Florent Nouvel: Le Nouvel Album

Florent Nouvel has a child’s sense of wonder and a director’s flair for composition. He simultaneously reveals and fabricates—his Facebook bio describes him as “le plus grand chanteur” of France (6 feet, 6 inches, or 1.99m)—and in fabricating illustrates larger truths with fine details. He writes catchy French chanson melodies, with deft touches of swing, bossa nova or jitterbug rock, that animate … More Florent Nouvel: Le Nouvel Album

Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh: Foxglove & Fuschia

Like a gentle wave, her voice rolls in, sometimes buoyantly high, sometimes achingly low. Her name may be challenging but her warm sound flows through the auditory channels and touches all the senses. Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh (pronounced Murr-en Nick OWL-eve) embodies the Irish music renaissance, as a singer of the ornamental sean nós and more contemporary folk styles, flutist, university … More Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh: Foxglove & Fuschia

Shakira: El Dorado

Shakira’s eleventh studio album, launched in 2017, showed her in peak form—bearing in mind that with Grammys galore, career record sales over 60 million and YouTube views topping 12 billion, her “peak” has an altitude mere superstars can’t reach. But the El Dorado World Tour scheduled to begin last November was delayed seven months by a vocal cord hemorrhage, and as the Colombian singer-songwriter wondered if she would ever perform … More Shakira: El Dorado

Curly Strings: Hoolima

All societies revere music, but surely Estonia ranks first among equals when it comes to the power of song. The 1987-91 Singing Revolution, involving mass-scale performances of patriotic anthems, was a pivotal step in ending the Soviet occupation. Fast forward 27 years and the nation seems focused less on traditional music than on engaging with the wider world, but there is still something deeply Estonian about the quest to create new … More Curly Strings: Hoolima