Olcay Bayir: Rüya – Dream for Anatolia

Olcay Bayir’s extraordinary second album begins with an endless walk on a narrow road, the trek drawn from an Alevi allegory of life’s journey. The artist has a parallel story: Born in southern Turkey, her musical Kurdish family—father and brother her first teachers—moved frequently around Anatolia and in every locale Olcay … More Olcay Bayir: Rüya – Dream for Anatolia

Catarina dos Santos: Rádio Kriola

The subtitle of Catarina dos Santos’ second album is “Reflections on Portuguese Identity,” a subject as big as the ocean that touches Portugal, Africa and Brazil and as small as the working-class town where she grew up. Facing Lisbon across the Tagus, Barreiro is home to families from Angola, Cape Verde, Guinea, Mozambique and inland Portugal. From an early age, Dos Santos—whose father … More Catarina dos Santos: Rádio Kriola

Afrika Mamas: Iphupho

A common symbol of Zulu culture is the cowhide shield, ever present in images of the warrior-king Shaka and also the centerpiece on the official crest of KwaZulu-Natal, the South African province that is the heartland of the Zulu people. But as history merges with herstory, it’s evident that societies are shielded not only by warriors but also by strong women. And no group embodies the idea of protective Zulu women more than the a cappella ensemble … More Afrika Mamas: Iphupho

Gwyneth Glyn: Tro

Gwyneth Glyn’s elegant songs have more layers than a mille-feuille. Her images and subtexts rotate clear and dreamlike, overlaid with lyric tones of light and shadow. She touches on homecoming, remembrance, insomnia, protection and defiance—always circling back to the wonder and vulnerability of love and intimacy. Glyn sings, primarily in Welsh, in a softly commanding voice. On Tro (Turn), her songs, mostly new compositions, have a gorgeously … More Gwyneth Glyn: Tro

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

Khamoro Budapest Band: Hungarian Gypsy Music

One of the most commonly used Romani loan words in English is “pal”—a fraternal takeaway reflecting the solidarity that binds a wandering people. A powerful byproduct of that solidarity is music that breaches social barriers the Roma themselves have often been unable to penetrate. They planted flamenco in Spain and gave manouche jazz to France; further east, the Roma sound is routinely viewed as synonymous with Hungarian … More Khamoro Budapest Band: Hungarian Gypsy Music

Elemotho: Beautiful World

Elemotho’s Beautiful World is a jewel with facets that reflect topographical and human landscapes. The Namibian singer-composer traces his songwriting to childhood memories of storytelling around campfires in the Kalahari and uses forthright lyrics to turn ignorance toward understanding, loss toward hope and to find beauty in unexpected places. Singing traditional and new works in English, Setswana and other Namibian languages, he works with … More Elemotho: Beautiful World

Lenka Lichtenberg: Yiddish Journey

Yiddish is often discussed in before-and-after terms. As a language of daily life it barely survived the Holocaust, and postwar Jewish migration led to further decline. So when the Czech-born Canadian singer Lenka Lichtenberg decided she wanted to perform in a language that hadn’t been spoken in her family for generations, it was less an exercise in adult education than in resurrection. There are other Yiddish singers today, but arguably no one has done more … More Lenka Lichtenberg: Yiddish Journey

Hanitra: Lasa – Songs from Madagascar

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 … More Hanitra: Lasa – Songs from Madagascar