Rodrigo Costa Félix: Tempo

Fado and Portugal combined are like a reversible garment: Display the banner of one on the outside and the other side touches your heart. And if the music expresses the Portuguese soul, perhaps no artist expresses fado in as many ways as Rodrigo Costa Félix. In a 30-year career he has recorded albums, performed in fado houses, on television and concert stages and won the coveted Amália Rodrigues Foundation Award for Best Album in 2013 … More Rodrigo Costa Félix: Tempo

Céline Banza: Praefatio

Céline Banza’s voice is so utterly captivating it seems to eliminate emotional distance, merging melancholy with hope, grievance with comfort, artist with audience. On her debut album the Congolese singer-songwriter tells stories of love, separation and chauvinism—plus childhood innocence lost and miraculously recovered. Time has been as thin as space in her 24 years: Born in Kinshasa in 1997, she composed songs before age seven and her father … More Céline Banza: Praefatio

Afrika Mamas: Ilanga / The Sun

Aretha Franklin, Dolly Parton, Shakira, Nicki Minaj—voices embodying women’s empowerment have revolutionized popular music over the past half century. But as superstars rouse millions of women, they also highlight art as an individual pursuit. Transformative group vocals are more readily found in communal-oriented societies—and there is no finer example than Afrika Mamas, six single … More Afrika Mamas: Ilanga / The Sun

Adjiri Odametey: Ekonklo

Adjiri Odametey has a touch of the philosophy professor who presents life’s central questions in the classroom, or around the campfire, with such gentle and infectious enthusiasm that we don’t so much think it over as drink it in. Ekonklo (The Other Side), the singer-songwriter’s sixth album, is brimming with disparate elements that fit together only by the grace of a virtuoso. Odametey was born and raised in Ghana, where he studied traditional music … More Adjiri Odametey: Ekonklo

Mónika Lakatos and the Gipsy Voices: Hangszín

More than anything else, her voice—soaring, soulful, charismatic, bluesy, passionate—explains why Mónika Lakatos received the 2020 World Music Expo (WOMEX) Lifetime Achievement Award, becoming the first Roma artist to win the prestigious honor. Hangszín (Sound Colors), her second album with Gipsy Voices, further enhances her reputation on the world scene and also in Hungary … More Mónika Lakatos and the Gipsy Voices: Hangszín

Fely Tchaco: Yita (Deep Water)

Migration is a universal story: All humanity came out of Africa’s Great Rift Valley. Voluntary or involuntary, migration is constant, driven by push-pull factors like dreams, exploration, climate change, conflict, hunger and persecution. Yita (Deep Water), the title track of Fely Tchaco’s fifth album, is a soaring elegy for migrants who never reached their destination and also a hymn … More Fely Tchaco: Yita (Deep Water)

José Alberto (El Ruiseñor): Mi Tumbao

A freedom-fighting poet named Perucho Figueredo wrote La Bayamesa, Cuba’s national anthem, on horseback in 1867, after Spanish authorities surrendered to pro-independence forces in Bayamo. More than 150 years on, the city—located in eastern Cuba’s Granma province—still has abundant horse traffic and resounding music composed locally by José Alberto Tamayo Diaz, popularly known as … More José Alberto (El Ruiseñor): Mi Tumbao

The Teacups: In Which…

The Teacups have etched a high profile on the United Kingdom’s folk landscape these past ten years and the a cappella quartet’s third album is an epic journey that adds to their stellar reputation. The collection’s 19 traditional and modern songs encompass seafaring, hunting and drinking, tilled gardens, street vendor cries, love, loss and class inequality, all delivered with elegant timing and breathtaking harmony. The ensemble—Alex … More The Teacups: In Which…

Nakany Kanté: De Conakry a Barcelone

Nakany Kanté’s third album evokes a place where disparate cultures and experiences harmonize, each home displays artifacts reflecting the owner’s origins and precious pieces acquired on journeys of discovery, and each soul is forged by days of challenge and success, cheer and sadness. The smooth mix of De Conakry a Barcelone is organic, echoing not only a dialogue of African and Western … More Nakany Kanté: De Conakry a Barcelone

Merema: Kezeren Koiht

The 14 songs on Kezeren Koiht (Ancient Custom) have everything required of first-rate folk tales: Dreams and journeys, peril and gore, omens and clairvoyants, love sagas that end well and badly. But where the Brothers Grimm had the perfect family name for their collected works, a suitable adjective for Merema’s collection should perhaps reflect the ensemble’s honorable purpose: Survival of the culture and languages their stories represent. Merema is based … More Merema: Kezeren Koiht