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

Tango-Orkesteri Unto: Dark Wings of the Night

The range of human emotion stays largely the same, even in physical landscapes that are poles apart. So perhaps the mystery of Finnish tango lies less in how it flourishes in subarctic ground than in the eternal shadow of passion. One indicator of how rooted the century-old Argentine import is in Finnish culture is the exquisite sound of Tango-Orkesteri Unto—six virtuoso musicians with parallel careers in folk, jazz, classical and theater music … More Tango-Orkesteri Unto: Dark Wings of the Night

Ana Alcaide: Leyenda

Ana Alcaide has forged a personal Silk Route to distant lands and past epochs. Blending imported elements into her music, she has made the Swedish nyckelharpa part of her medieval Spanish repertoire; released two albums exploring the Sephardic experience; and fused sounds with Indonesian musicians. On Leyenda (Legend), her fifth album, Alcaide offers fables of women who devote earthly and magical powers to good and wise, sinister and sometimes tragic ends. Her silky, seductive … More Ana Alcaide: Leyenda

Divanhana: Zukva – Sevdah from Bosnia’s Finest

The zukva is a sour Bosnian apple that can’t be transplanted but blends well in hybrids. On their third album, the members of Divanhana use the apple is an apt symbol of their music—sevdalinka—urban Bosnian folk woven from Balkan, Turkish and Sephardic strands. Adding to the blend, the band grafts brass, piano, bass and drums onto traditional accordion and the enchanting voice of Leila Ćatić. Sevdalinka typically conveys love’s passion … More Divanhana: Zukva – Sevdah from Bosnia’s Finest