Maja Milinković: Fadolinka

Like many artists, Maja Milinković takes advantage of unexpected opportunity and inspiration. She learned guitar in an underground shelter during the Siege of Sarajevo; it helped her stay calm and prepared her for a music career. By age 15 she was playing in a rock band and by 30, with two solo pop-rock albums behind her, she was widely known in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Balkans. But along the way a friend showed her a video of Amália … More Maja Milinković: Fadolinka

Kate Rusby: Philosophers, Poets & Kings

There’s an exquisite equilibrium to Kate Rusby’s voice, at once celestial and cozy, planting a wistful note in the most comical saga and a vein of comfort in the most tragic. On Philosophers, Poets & Kings, her seventeenth solo album, the folksinger-songwriter covers a sweeping range of experience and emotion drawn mostly from her South Yorkshire surroundings—old and new tales of wine and … More Kate Rusby: Philosophers, Poets & Kings

Wuta Mayi: La Face Cachée

Just as the Congo (Kinshasa) inhabits Africa’s center, Gaspard Wuta Mayi is central to the nation’s musical saga. The rumba singer-songwriter is a veteran of a series of seminal ensembles, including Orchestre Bamboula, which represented the Congo at the landmark 1969 Pan-African Culture Festival in Algiers; TPOK Jazz, the leading Congolese band from the 60s to the 80s; the Paris-based Quatre Étoiles, which surfed the soukous wave … More Wuta Mayi: La Face Cachée

Sissi Imaziten: Anzur

If exile is painful it is also a powerful creative force. Artists from Victor Hugo to Bob Marley, from Gloria Estefan to James Joyce, have not only clung to lands that they or their parents left behind, they also put their heritage on everyone’s cultural map. So it is with Sissi Imaziten, who grew up in an immigrant family in France but whose crystalline voice in Kabyle—the principal Berber (Amazigh) language in Algeria—evokes a world in the Tell Atlas Mountains … More Sissi Imaziten: Anzur

Tsaziken: Machnaty

Like the queue outside the Louvre, the seven-woman chorus Tsaziken is a fascinating mix of disparate elements and common threads. Based in Cologne, with German and Slavic roots, on their second album they sing in eight languages and highlight a shared passion for combing the world’s cultures in search of traditional songs about love and destiny. The group ignited at a 2004 music festival when its four original singers met Raimund Kroboth, director of the … More Tsaziken: Machnaty

Mariachi Los Camperos: De Ayer Para Siempre

The U.S.-Mexican border looms large in American discourse these days, but when it comes to the mariachi landscape the frontier barely exists. From Guadalajara to Hollywood to the facing shores of the Rio Grande/Rio Bravo, one of the most venerated bands performing traditional Mexican music is Los Angeles-based Mariachi Los Camperos. The Grammy-winning ensemble has played Carnegie Hall, the … More Mariachi Los Camperos: De Ayer Para Siempre

Clio: Déjà Venise

Clio doesn’t so much write songs as paint them. Her lyrics flow in conversational tones, filling each story like brush strokes on a canvas. On Déjà Venise (Already in Venice), her second album, the French singer-songwriter is concerned mostly with couples on the verge of connecting or disconnecting. Her portraits, often simultaneously realist and impressionist, are composed of images—unsipped coffee on a counter, a departed lover’s footprints in snow … More Clio: Déjà Venise

Wiyaala: Sissala Goddess

Candace Bushnell, creator of Sex and the City, has company. The Ghanaian singer-songwriter Noella Wiyaala opens her second album with Village Sex (video 1), intertwining music and attitude: Her outlook balances respect for some traditions (like pre-marital abstinence) with modern ideals (women comfortable with sexuality); her style blends West African folk, Afropop and arena rock. On Sissala Goddess, Wiyaala unveils a rustic 16-track … More Wiyaala: Sissala Goddess

Três Bairros: O Turno da Noite

Love is the magician that pulls a man out of his own hat, but how many get lucky when they try to force the alchemy? Consider the countless stories—tragic, hilarious, pathetic, triumphant—of guys who make the effort. To that list add the debut album of Três Bairros, artists of Portuguese tradition (mostly but not exclusively fado) who serve up passion in gardens, cafés, streets and windows, with success … More Três Bairros: O Turno da Noite

La Mòssa: a moss’!

Based in Avignon, the women of La Mòssa are polyphonic and polyglot; they have varied music backgrounds (jazz, folk, rock, roots), they tell stories old and recent, true-to-life, fanciful and surreal, describing marriage and courtship, evoking wars, witches and mermaids. There’s an elegant coherence to it all, as if they carry a world of lore in a small purse—labeled “roads women have traveled” and closed with a clasp of attitude. What binds all the facets … More La Mòssa: a moss’!