Oliver Mtukudzi and The Black Spirits, a revolutionary music group originating in Zimbabwe, have been performing since 1979. The Black Spirits members have changed over the years, consisting of over 50 members throughout its time, with Oliver Mtukudzi, both musician and public figure, at the forefront throughout the group’s history. Mtukudzi’s organic, savvy mix of traditional ways, pan-African influences, and cosmopolitan pop forms became widely known as Tuku Music. Mtukudzi’s deep and courageous voice solidifies the band, while most of their writing and performances act as a declaration against hatred and violence. Featuring strong socio-political themes driven by a desire to see the world conquer hate, fear and greed, the band’s most popular tracks promote tolerance and non-violence including “Tozeza Baba” and “Ngoromera”.
Born in the Ivory Coast, but raised in Mali, Fatoumata Diawara (aka Fatou) has created music that has become an inspiration to people around the world. Now based in Paris, and still only 30, Fatou has led a life covering the whole gamut of the contemporary African experience: fighting parental opposition to her artistic ambitions and the cultural prejudice faced by women throughout Africa, and winning success as an actress in film and theatre before finding her feet in the medium she was always destined to make her own: music. She completed an album’s worth of songs, composing and arranging all the titles, as well as playing guitar, percussion, bass and singing lead and harmony vocals. In 2011, Fatou released her self-titled debut album, which was deemed by the British based The Sunday Times as the #1 world music album of 2011.
London-based Ethiopian trio, Krar Collective, have developed a distinctive style based on the reworking of traditional songs from their native land. Dubbed ‘The Ethiopian White Stripes” for their stripped-down sound, Krar Collective provide their audiences with a colorful blend of dynamic roots music from different regions and ethnic traditions, but with a contemporary edge, plugged-in and funked-up. In September of 2012, The Guardian described Krar Collective as “one of the most rousing, reliable new African bands of the year.” Their first album, Ethiopia Super Krar¸ featuring their 6-stringed krar lyre, kebero drums and the powerful vocals of singer Genet Assefa, serves up some mind-blowing Ethiopian grooves.
DJ Sirak, born in Addis Ababa, adds depth to the conversation by making Afro-beat a prominent influence in his style. As the co-founder of Africology, an entertainment venture that focuses on educating the world on music of African descent, his endeavors as a DJ help to break down the cultural barriers through the medium of music. Sirak matches the beats of artists like the Notorious B.I.G and dead prez to the up-tempo drums and breaks from his homeland. The fusion is his way of bridging the culture gap between the communities of the Americas and Africa. His sets not only spice up the dance floor, but also add heat to the debate over the origin of rhythm driven hip-hop beats.
New York City Parks Foundation SummerStage 2013 Website
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