Seydu: Sadaka

With his smooth and generous voice, Seydu is poignant in singing about the impact of war, incisive in warning of corruption, reverent about the beauty of African women and upbeat regarding the power of a smile. Such themes animate Sadaka (The Gift), his third album, broadly focused on the redemptive power of giving. Born into a musical family in Sierra Leone—a nation scarred by the slave trade and, more recently, by blood diamonds … More Seydu: Sadaka

Oum: Zarabi

Weaving is an apt metaphor for the disparate strands of Oum’s music—North African Gnawa, Hassani, Sufi, jazz, gospel, Afro-beat, R&B, bossa nova and Cuban trova—which converge like winds in a magical desert. The Moroccan singer-songwriter (full name, Oum El Ghait Benessahraoui) grew up in Marrakech but also feels at home in the oasis town of M’hamid el Ghizlane, known for it annual arts festival and the local women who weave … More Oum: Zarabi

Souad Massi: El Mutakallimûn

Dylan and Marley, Fela Kuti and Ramy Essam— musicians can move the world. Likewise Souad Massi, Algeria’s greatest female singer, who grew up on American music, relocated to France following death threats earned in a political rock band and knows well the struggle of Europe’s Muslim minorities. El Mutakallimûn (Masters of the Word)—her sixth solo album—draws inspiration from al-Andalus, the Muslim-ruled kingdom in Spain that was once a beacon of science, literature … More Souad Massi: El Mutakallimûn

Tarabband: Ashofak Baden

The musical seeds are familiar: Childhood violin lessons, a preference for Dylan and Joan Baez; first lyrics penned in English, first performance folk, dreams of starting a punk band. But this story belongs to Baghdad-born Nadin Al Khalidi, who found refuge in Sweden. Only after crossing a cultural bridge did she discover she could also become one. Al Khalidi is the heart and soul of Tarabband (from tarab, meaning “ecstasy in music.”), her soothing … More Tarabband: Ashofak Baden