Saturday, September 27, 2008

African Divas Vol. 1

With the kids back in school and monopolizing the computer, and me swamped under a ton of overtime, I just haven't been able to give this blog the attention it deserves. As usual, I have several posts in progress, which I'm putting the finishing touches on, but I haven't wrapped things up yet.

Still, I want to put something up, so here goes:

You're probably familiar with Matt Temple's blog Matsuli Music. Last year, shortly before I started Likembe, I compiled an installment in his great "African Serenades" series. It was Volume 47 in two parts, subtitled African Divas 1 and African Divas 2, a selection of great female vocalists from across the continent.

I'm really proud of the work I did on this collection, but it was only online for a week or two on Matsuli Music. So I'm bringing it back into the light of day here. Here's the tracklist for Volume One:

1. E Beh Kiyah Kooney – Princess Fatu Gayflor (Liberia)
2. Haya – Khadja Nin (Burundi)
3. Ndare – Cécile Kayirebwa (Rwanda)
4. Du Balai – Angèle Assélé (Gabon)
5. Kalkidan – Hamelmal Abate (Ethiopia)
6. Ezi Gbo Dim - Nelly Uchendu (Nigeria)
7. Odo (Love) – Sunsum Band featuring Becky B (Ghana)
8. Dikom Lam La Moto – Charlotte Mbango (Cameroun)
9. Kuteleza Si Kwanguka – Lady Isa (Kenya)
10. Vis à Vis – Monique Seka (Côte d’Ivoire)
11. Femme Commerçante – M’pongo Love (Congo-Kinshasa)
12. Fe, Fe, Fe – Tina Dakoury (Côte d’Ivoire)
13. Koumba – Tshala Muana (Congo-Kinshasa)
14. Fote – Djanka Diabate (Guinea)
There are a few tracks you will recognize if you've been following Likembe for a while, but most may be new to you. In a departure from my usual practice, I'm posting this as a zipped file (108 MB) rather than as individual tracks, as it was meant to be listened to as a unit. An inlay card has been included as a Word file if you want to make your own CD. Volume 2 will follow shortly:

African Divas Vol. 1

African Divas Vol. 2

As promised, here is African Divas Vol. 2, originally posted last year as African Serenades Vol. 47b at Matsuli Music.

I apologize for the brevity of this post. Perhaps in the future when I have more time I will update it to include background information about these wonderful singers:

1. Abidjan Adja - Antoinette Konan (Côte d'Ivoire)
2. Barika Barika - Djeneba Seck (Mali)
3. Meta Meta - Martha Ashagari (Ethiopia)
4. Ami - Bebe Manga (Cameroun)
5. Ekwe - Onyeka Onwenu (Nigeria)
6. Medim Me Yom - Tity Edima (Cameroun)
7. La Paille et la Poutre - Nimon Toki Lala (Togo)
8. Mundeke - Afrigo Band featuring Rachael Magoola (Uganda)
9. Takko Wade - Kiné Lam (Senegal)
10. Keffa - Abonesh Adnew (Ethiopia)
11. Nyu Madin - Marthe Zambo (Cameroun)
12. Don't Let Me Go - Hindirah (Côte d'Ivoire)
13. Pare Chocs - Vonga Aye (Congo)
14. Dieleul-Dieuleul - Aby Ngana Diop (Senegal)
African Divas Vol. 2

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Mahmoud Ahmed Live in Addis Ababa, 1992

As part of this blog's ongoing effort to bring to light obscure and hard-to-find recordings from Ethiopia, I present a 1992 cassette, Mahmoud Ahmed Live in Addis Ababa (Ambassel Music Shop).

This recording is interesting in light of the fall of the brutal regime of
Mengistu Haile Mariam on May 19 the previous year. Suddenly the riches of contemporary Ethiopian music became far more available to the outside world. Live, along with a number of other cassettes, was licensed to an Ethiopian entrepreneur in Washington, DC, who was able to use mass-market technology to duplicate it. These cassettes were therefore of somewhat better quality than the haphazardly-copied Ethiopian editions (the cassette inlay cards were printed in Ethiopia).

Live is marred somewhat by the use of synthesizer and drum machine, but it offers an interesting look at one of the masters of the Ethiopian groove on his home ground. Of course, I have no idea if the lyrics reflect the tumultuous changes occurring in Ethiopia at the time.

A member of the minority Gouarague ethnic group, Mahmoud Ahmed was born on May 8, 1941, and rose from very humble origins as a shoeshine boy to become the best-known Ethiopian musician internationally, thanks mainly to his ground-breaking record Erè Mèla Mèla (1975), which has been reissued several times in the last 20 years.

The cassette lists twelve songs, but three, "Enmane Nebru," "Yuy Heregitu" and "Naye Danune Tesau," are missing. As usual, I've transliterated the song titles utilizing the Geez syllabary. As there are undoubtedly errors, I'm making the original inlay card available to anyone with a knowledge of Amharic (I suspect some of these songs are in other languages as well). Your input is gratefully solicited!

Mahmoud Ahmed - Alaweqeueleoeme

Mahmoud Ahmed - Menafeqy Gwadaoe

Mahmoud Ahmed - Enedyte Yerlale

Mahmoud Ahmed - Mela Tesxoe

Mahmoud Ahmed - Elemaze Mene Oeda Newe

Mahmoud Ahmed - Tezeta

Mahmoud Ahmed - Enegeday Nu

Mahmoud Ahmed - Enedagna

Mahmoud Ahmed - Imisemamaoe Axahuoe

And if you'd like to hear some more Mahmoud Ahmed at the top of his form, I've zipped and uploaded recordings of two concerts he did in Amsterdam a few years ago. These were originally posted at Matt Yanchyshyn's wonderful blog
Benn Loxo du Taccu and are made available with his permission. Download them here (warning: this is a 141 megabyte file) . I may decide to take these down in a couple of weeks, so get 'em while they're hot! Here's the setlist:

1. Atawruijn
2. Endet Nesh
3. Wey Fikir
4. Belomi Benna
5. Libesh Kabashini
6. Ney Denun Teseshi
7. Ere Mela Mela
8. Buna
9. Ashkaru
10. Yaselame
11. Eshet
12. Sab Sab Argign
13. Hulum Bager Naw