Ferhat Tunç: Kobani

The Kurdish-Turkish singer-songwriter Ferhat Tunç has achieved artistic success, but he has also provoked criticism that goes well beyond negative reviews. Over the course of his 30-year career, he has been harassed, censored, fined, indicted, arrested, jailed and received death threats. As this review posts, he awaits trial in Istanbul on charges of “insulting the president” of Turkey and “propaganda for a terrorist organization” over his support for the Kurdish rights movement. The alleged crimes arose from Twitter … More Ferhat Tunç: Kobani

Karolina Cicha & Bart Pałyga: Tatar Album

Poland’s first Muslim residents came by invitation when medieval rulers saw wisdom in welcoming Tatars, known for their military skills. A thriving community took root and there were Tatar units in the Polish army as late as 1939. Fewer than 5,000 Polish Tatars remain today; clustered mostly in the Bialystok region, they retain their faith, their cuisine and an affinity for archery, but not their language. In 2013, the Bialystok-born singer, composer … More Karolina Cicha & Bart Pałyga: Tatar Album

Mary Ann Kennedy: An Dàn – Gaelic Songs for a Modern World

Just as construction cranes on a city landscape signal renewal, so do new songs indicate the vitality of a language. Mary Ann Kennedy, an architect of the Scottish Gaelic Renaissance, builds toward the heavens not with stone and steel but with words and music. Daughter of a musical dynasty from the Isle of Skye, she grew up … More Mary Ann Kennedy: An Dàn – Gaelic Songs for a Modern World

Idan Raichel: Piano • Songs

Though recognizable by his dreadlocks and turban, Idan Raichel often seemed to hide in plain sight. Concerts of his Idan Raichel Project feature up to 15 artists at a time on stage, no one commanding the spotlight and the self-effacing maestro—as pianist, composer, lyricist, singer and producer—always at stage right. To date, he’s made six albums with the Project, a rotating assembly representing Israel’s diversity, with artists singing in Amharic and Arabic alongside Hebrew, plus guest performers from Africa … More Idan Raichel: Piano • Songs

Folk’Avant: Gryningsland

Step away from the urgent world and into the dazzling universe of Gryningsland (Daybreak), by the Swedish-Finnish trio Folk’Avant. Anna Wikenius, Maija Kauhanen and Anna Rubinsztein—who met at Stockholm’s Royal College of Music—call their self-composed songs “experimental Nordic folk,” and they produce a sound that’s both tight (three voices, two instruments) and spacious. Drift on leisurely opening movements that merge into symphonic soundscapes, relish the strings and savor the … More Folk’Avant: Gryningsland

Izaline Calister: Rayo di Lus

The singer-songwriter Izaline Calister has lived most of her adult life in the Netherlands but hasn’t left behind, much less forgotten, her home island of Curaçao. In fact, the fusion that created her native language, Papiamento (Portuguese base with Spanish, Dutch, English and African ingredients) is reflected in the delectable stew of her music—Afro-Antillean, Latin, Brazilian, calypso and jazz. On Rayo di Lus (Ray of Light), Calister’s Antillean roots are front and center, powered by her warm, captivating voice … More Izaline Calister: Rayo di Lus

Idir: Ici et Ailleurs

How many goals can one album achieve? Idir, the soft but steadfast voice of Berber/Kabyle culture, may not have posed that question when he conceived Ici et Ailleurs (Here and Elsewhere), but a partial list would include putting his native language—which has long struggled for official status in Algeria—on a bigger stage; expressing his love for the French soundtrack of his 40-year exile; and, not least, adding a new chapter to Charles Aznavour’s storied career … More Idir: Ici et Ailleurs

Ánnámáret Ensemble: Gollehelmmot

Our idea of northern latitudes is shaped by stories like The Call of the Wild and Dr. Zhivago—tales that focus on outlanders who venture into the cold for exploration or refuge. One benefit of world music and literature is meeting people for whom a place like the Arctic is not an adventure but home. Anna Näkkäläjärvi-Länsman is a singer-songwriter, musical academy director and teacher from Utsjoki, at the north end of Finland’s longest road … More Ánnámáret Ensemble: Gollehelmmot

Juanes: Mis Planes Son Amarte

As a lyricist, Juanes has been compared to John Lennon, as a humanitarian to Bono. He has sold 15 million albums and has honors to spare. So what more does the Colombian singer-songwriter aspire to? Well, there was his boyhood dream of becoming an astronaut… His latest album—marrying guasca and cumbia to classic rock—is an elegant, passionate collection of a dozen love songs; based on music alone, they rank among his best. It also … More Juanes: Mis Planes Son Amarte

Carminho Canta Tom Jobim

Wise is the traveler who dives into another culture without losing her own identity, who enables both visitor and host to see themselves in a new light. So it is that Carminho, a pre-eminent star of the fado renaissance, brings her made-in-Portugal voice to songs by the late Brazilian composer Antônio Carlos Jobim, the patriarch of bossa nova. An invitation from Jobim’s family prompted Carminho Sings Tom Jobim, the offer including accompaniment by the master’s band—guitarist Paulo Jobim … More Carminho Canta Tom Jobim