Hanitra: Lasa – Songs from Madagascar

Precious Resources

Listening Post 95. As Madagascar suffered severe environmental damage over the past generation, it also saw its music flourish. Hanitra Ranaivo has played a key role in the cultural renaissance. She was part of Lolo Sy Ny Tariny, an iconic Malagasy band that helped put the island nation on the world music map, and she made the ballad Maninona e a popular anthem. But as the only woman in a nine-member ensemble, she wanted to write and perform her own songs. Lasa, Hanitra’s third solo album—a dual tribute to unsung women artists and to the late singer-songwriter Lhasa de Sela—threads a feminine/feminist line through a range of issues, including reconciliation; raising daughters; abusive husbands; and callous leaders who ignore suffering. Her voice, supported by spare arrangements rooted in Malagasy folk, is tender and captivating, its power measured not in decibels but by a clarity that filters out competing clamor. In Avia (Come), she describes a rebellious streak: “At sunset, everything calls me/Home, husband, children, mother-in-law/But the only thing I want is to go dancing” (video 1). Ampela (Wife) is the cry of a widow whose fisherman husband was lost at sea (video 2). There’s sorrow in Leave, but also understanding and hope—“You were probably scared of me…The earth is round, we will eventually find each other”—plus references to Madagascar’s exquisite jacarandas and the dulcimer-like valiha (video 3). Myriam puts forbidden passion in the shadow of tradition: “Love is not allowed for us, because we are two women,” she sings (video 4). The voice of an imagined politician narrates Mivalo (I Beg Your Pardon), addressing the country’s devastating deforestation. No imagination necessary to appreciate how Hanitra uses the precious resource of her voice to serve larger goals. (ARC Music)

 

 

 

 

 


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