The time has come, friends. I got word a couple of months ago that About.com has decided to discontinue this world music site, my home on the web since 2006. Now that the 2013 Readers' Choice Awards are finished, so am I -- here, at least. The site will remain live and searchable, but my position is finished and no new content will be added. Naturally, I'm terribly sad to see this site retired, mostly for selfish reasons (I liked doing this job!) but also because I'm sad to see yet another world music editorial outlet fall by the wayside.
Still, I'm not discouraged about the state of world music in general. If anything, I think this segment of the industry is stronger than ever, we've just seen a massive breakdown of genre walls in the past decade, and the "world music" designation carries less weight in and of itself, even as we see our favorite artists gain more and more recognition, our favorite festivals sell out earlier and earlier, and other positive signs of progress.
I'm certainly not done with world music, and in just a few days, I'll be taking up a writing/blogging/tweeting/editorial position at the dynamic up-and-coming website WOBEON (World Beat Online), where I'm looking forward to getting my hands dirty with some exciting multimedia tools, so follow me there to see what I'm up to. You also might keep an eye here at About.com, where I'll hopefully be a semi-regular (or even more frequent) contributor to our Travel channel in the near future. If in doubt, you can always find me on Google+ for updates about where I am and what I'm listening to. Onward!
Earlier this month, reviewer Rob Hillard had a chance to take in a concert by Malian kora player Ballake Sissoko and French cellist Vincent Segal, a duo that has been touring and recording together for several years. The concert took place at the Atlas Performing Arts Center, and according to Rob, it was quite wonderful. Read what he has to say: Concert Review: Ballake Sissoko and Vincent Segal
What've you been listening to lately? A couple of new releases that crossed my desk recently were the outstanding Santiman, from the Creole Choir of Cuba, and the very good Putumayo Presents Vintage France. Both very different, both worth your attention. Check out my reviews:
Well, folks, the nominations are tallied and the finalists have been selected for the 2013 About.com World Music Readers' Choice Awards, and this year's slate of finalists is an exciting one, to be sure. Remember, one vote per person per category per day, so vote early and vote often!
- Complete List of Categories and Pertinent Information
- World Music Torchbearer Award - Vote Now!
- World Music Trailblazer Award - Vote Now!
- Best World Music Venue - Vote Now!
- Best World Music Concert Series - Vote Now!
- Best World Music Festival - Vote Now!
- Best World Music Radio Show - Vote Now!
- Best World Music Record Label - Vote Now!
- Best World Music Website or Blog - Vote Now!
The Grammy Awards are coming up this weekend, and among this year's nominees in the Best Reggae Album category is Jimmy Cliff's fantastic 2012 release Rebirth. The category also features albums by the Original Wailers, Sean Paul, Sly & Robbie & the Jam Masters, and Toots & the Maytals, but despite those heavyweights, I feel like Jimmy Cliff's got this one in the bag. Who are you putting your chips on?
This week, we've got some new reviews to share.
First off, I'd like to welcome reviewer Rob Hillard to the team. I've known Rob for well over a decade, and have always admired his tremendous enthusiasm for live and recorded music and the grace with which he puts those thoughts into words. For his first About.com review, he caught the fantastic Debo Band live, and here's how it went: Live Review: The Debo Band at Artisphere in Arlington, VA, 1/10/13
While Rob was out cavorting with the cool kids, I was shut in at home, fighting off the last of my winter colds (I hope) and checking out some of the excellent music that has arrived in my mailbox in the past few weeks. Among the offerings were two exciting new releases that I've been looking forward to for quite some time. Both excellent, but both very, very different. If raucous, noisy, shake-yo'-thang bhangra-funk appeals, check this out: CD Review: Red Baraat - Shruggy Ji
If something a little mellower (but musically immaculate and completely enchanting) is more your style, check out the latest from a Swedish folk powerhouse trio here: CD Review: Väsen - Mindset
This week sees the touring company of FELA! hitting the road on their first national tour of the musical production that tells the story of Fela Kuti, Afrobeat pioneer and political activist. It's a fantastic show. The music, provided live by members of Antibalas, is irresistible and the dancing, choreographed by legend Bill T. Jones, is exceptional. This tour features Beyoncé's former Destiny's Child cohort Michelle Williams in the cast, alongside talented Broadway performers and musicians, and should be a blast. I saw FELA! on Broadway, and can't recommend it enough. If it comes to your town (or the next town over, or the next one over from that), go see it.
FELA! 2013 SPRING TOUR SCHEDULE:
It's really no surprise that flamenco is such a popular genre of music around the world; there are very few other styles that are so emotionally evocative and soul-stirring. Passion! Romance! Sex! Fire! Heat! Danger! Death! Combine that with some fast-fingered guitars and earthy, wailing vocals, and you've got yourself a recipe for something truly spectacular. If you need some more flamenco in your life (and who doesn't, honestly), try these: 10 Essential Flamenco Starter CDs