Category: Africa

santoor 2 resized

By Elizabeth Doyle

Dhevdhas Nair is a musician you really have to hear to believe. (You can sample or buy an album here:

In Part One, Dhevdhas describes a remarkable moment when he is playing with a band in the Sudan. To read Part One first, click here.

He: It was a huge open plan studio and they had just finished reading the news at the other side – and the place erupted, cameramen, technicians, newsreader, everyone started cheering and dancing, there were big smiles everywhere, and we all knew something very special was happening. Afterwards the band stumbled out somewhat dazed, to sit under a tree and recover. It was wonderful but a little unnerving too. And I knew then just what live music was capable of and I definitely wanted more! I think that is really why people go to concerts. Because every now and then, this amazing thing happens and off we all go on a journey together which is so fulfilling and nourishing, and if I can play a part in making it happen, I consider it a good night’s work.

It’s a slightly different process sitting alone in the studio, at the piano, composing, but really I think the source is same – from somewhere in the depths of a collective consciousness, stories emerge that speak to a common experience of being alive, and although the message is universal, the medium has to be culturally specific in order to be communicated. Specific in the sense of using a mutually intelligible language to share the story, in my case the musical language made up of my cultural influences, living in this place at this time in history.

Me: You play several instruments, I know, including the piano and dulcimer. Which instrument is your true love?

He: Actually, I think that the process itself is my true love, rather than any individual instrument… the way that music flows through if you open the right doors. I certainly get the same sense of freedom and abandonment when that mysterious energy takes over, whether I’m playing piano, dulcimer, or an old dustbin lid!

Me: Set the stage for me of what it looks like when you’re composing music. Are you sitting in a room by yourself with a pen and paper? Are you fooling around on your piano? Walking in the woods? Listening to an album?

view from Eaglehurst summer afternoon, resized

He: I’m in my studio. I have a wonderful old converted barn with views over Dartmoor, a wilderness region in the South West of England. Its full of instruments, my Bechstein grand piano, dulcimer, lots of drums and percussion, piano accordion, harmonium, oud (arabic lute), as well as all the techie stuff you need to record with.

ancient trees 2, resized

Usually, pieces start as improvisations on the piano. The most productive time is when I have just come in from a walk on the moors. Dartmoor has quite a varied topography; there are high bleak moors, deep wooded valleys, and rushing, pure rivers strewn with granite boulders. There is an elemental energy in the landscape that seems to translate directly into musical energy as soon as I sit down. Often, the very first thing I play contains the basic idea for a piece. I need to repeat it quickly and write it down, or record it, or I’m likely to lose it in the ongoing flow of ideas. It almost seems as if I’m taking or absorbing that wilderness energy, turning it round, and sending it back to people who live in cities so that they can at least taste a little of it through the music. I remember when I was writing the first track, mudra mix, looking out of the window across the hills, with one hand over the dulcimer, and the other over the recording button, being filled with a huge sense of fulfilment and gratitude – I suddenly realised that after so many years of working and aiming for a goal of creativity and musicianship, here I was…. in this beautiful place, letting this beautiful music come through, actually doing what I had always imagined I wanted to do.

To be continued…

To go to part three, click here.

To order the album Inbetween and Passing by Dhevdhas Nair, if you live outside the UK, go to

In the UK, click here.  

Photos: © Dhevdhas Nair

Top photo: Dhevdhas Nair with a santoor

Second photo: View from Eaglehurst in Dartmoor, in the UK

Third photo: An ancient tree


By Elizabeth Doyle

Dhevdhas Nair is a musician you really have to hear to believe. (You can sample or buy an album here:

His music isn’t quite describable, but I would say that it’s a mixture of thoughts, translated into notes that are trickled over an emotional baseline expressed in a musical background.

It would be easy to say something like he combines classical Indian with African music and American Jazz. But really, he just makes his own music, and different traditions from around the world feed into his musical vocabulary as he goes along. That’s how it seems to me.  And what’s most important about what he does isn’t the tribute he’s paying to a particular style, but the experience he’s trying to give the listener – in that way that each of us has a message that no one else can share.

I got the chance to ask Dhevdhas some questions about his music, to give us a “musical appreciation” course on his work.  And this is what he said:

Me:  I’ve never heard arrangements like yours before. Sometimes, a new melody or a new instrument will enter the music that seems almost like a non-sequitur. And for a moment, I feel like it’s not going to work, and then it does. Do you know what I’m talking about? Is this a conscious decision? Are you intentionally layering “thoughts” on top of moods that don’t instantly seem related?


He:  I’m aware that I sometimes put different sections up against each other which don’t have an immediate or obvious connection. I don’t stop too long to think about it – it comes out that way, and I tend to go with the order that ideas appear. I trust in the process, which sometimes doesn’t always seem to make sense at the time. I sort of hear in my head what needs to come next, I open to it, and out it comes from my fingers onto the instrument, the piano, dulcimer or percussion, accordion, or whatever.

Me: What are you usually trying to “show” us with your music? Is it something you sense that you can’t describe but want to share? Is it something you know about mentally and emotionally that you’re trying to share in a creative way? What’s driving you to want to communicate with me and everyone else through sound?

He: One of my jobs as a musician is to enable and encourage an experience of celebration, reflection and self exploration, and to accompany an audience on a journey that takes place in the realm of the inner life, but curiously is initiated by a shared external stimulus – organised sound. I suppose all forms of art and expression have this core function, the awakening of each individual to their own inner landscape which is often buried under layers of thought and the noise of our everyday minds. Music does have a way of getting through where language sometimes gets stuck. And there is a mysterious energy in there which, if you’re lucky, sometimes leaps right out into the room and transports everyone, the musicians and the audience into a rich experience.


Quite early in my career, when I was 18 years old, I was living and working with a band in Khartoum, in the Sudan. It was a great band, the most modern, cool band in Khartoum at the time, playing a blend of American-inspired jazz funk and African dance music. One day we were setting up in the main television studios to do a live broadcast, and while still tuning and getting ready we gradually fell into a completely unrehearsed improvisation, each member joining in until the whole band was playing. And something very strange began to happen. Somehow, I knew exactly what the guitarist was going to play before he played it, so I was able to play the same chords, notes and rhythm with him. It was an uncanny kind of telepathy. I distinctly remember looking down at my hands playing the keyboard and thinking “I’m not doing this, they’re just playing themselves”, and looking up to see that everyone in the band was having the same experience. We were staring at each other with the same bewildered expression on our faces, like…what is going on here? It was exactly as if someone or something was playing through us, and our individual identities disappeared as we blended into one perfect voice. It was the best piece of music we ever did, even though we had no idea what we were playing (and of course it didn’t get recorded!)

To be continued…

To go to part two, click here.


To order the album Inbetween and Passing by Dhevdhas Nair, if you live outside the UK, go to

In the UK, click here.

Top photo: “Photo of a hammered dulcimer, taken in Portland OR by Dvortygirl, 7/17/05” / Wikimedia Commons / “I, the copyright holder of this work, release this work into the public domain…”


Second photo: Author: Maarten van Beek ( / Wikimedia Commons / “The copyright holder of this file allows anyone to use it for any purpose, provided that the author Maarten van Beek and the website are properly attributed.” / “Jebel Barkal near Karima, Sudan, site of the ancient Kush capital of Napata.” 

Third photo: Author: Herby talk thyme / “Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License” / Wikimedia Commons / “View towards Sharpitor & Leather Tor down the valley of the river Meavy. The river Meavy is in the foregound. The forestry plantation is just above Burrator reservoir.” 




Into the pale


The barque,

Gliding on the blue,

The oarsman

Leaning on his willow

Pole, the fish, the ancient, glimmering

Fish of the Nile, all gone,

And none

Will awaken

Here again.


To where the Great Ones sail

Over the misted hills of gladness,

Climbing for awhile on the sparkling

Wind, after the rain,

In the stillness,

The Great Ones,

Ask not who they are,

Nor from where they arise,

For they have always been,

Only follow the dawn-



Of their wings across the skies.

Only follow,

Ever remembering though

To journey

First through

The far,



Of the masked ones, beginning

At the call of the mystical rail

On the shores of the silver-lapping night.


Written in 2006


Photo: Stevepleydell /



By Elizabeth Doyle

Whirling dervishes, traditional Sufi dancers

Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan — Some people say that this man, with his six-octave vocal range was the best singer of all time.  Of all time!  I’m not quite ready to go that far, but he is incredible. He was a Pakistani who sang primarily Sufi songs.  Apparently, his family had a 600-year tradition of singing these songs, and Nusrat brought them all to new levels of fame, even recording soundtracks for major motion pictures. Tragically, he only lived to age 48. It was his liver or his heart or something; I’m not quite sure. But he certainly made an impact!  Click here.




Rock formations from Tambori, Mali

Tinariwen – If you liked the Sahara desert music from last week, here’s another band from the region. The Tuareg leader of the band comes from a refugee camp (Homelands of nomadic tribes of the Sahara have frequently been annexed by surrounding Saharan countries, which has resulted in refugee camps.) The band has a large cast of changing members, and they’ve really built their reputation through word of mouth around northern Africa. Many of the young men in the band have been soldiers, and they’ve used music to give a voice to the people of the desert. They’ve gained real international recognition for their exceptional work, they’re becoming surprisingly influential, musically speaking, and they’re definitely worth knowing about. Click here



Yanni – OK, a lot of people make fun of Yanni. I think it’s the hair. Maybe the moustache. But Yanni is really talented. And Greece has every right to be as proud of him as it is! Back in Greece, Yanni taught himself how to play every instrument he knows, beginning at age six. He began writing his own music as a child. And he had no musical education of any kind. When he began making albums, he didn’t make anything that he had any reason to think would sell well. Instead, he made what he wanted to make. For a while, PBS (Public Broadcasting) was one of the only places you could see or hear his music. But he was so good, that he became famous anyway. He’s put a lot of the world’s music in the spotlight during his concerts, he’s known to be a genuine philanthropist who cares deeply about the plight of nature. In this video, he takes a moment to put the spotlight on a gentleman who can play a 3,000 year old Armenian instrument. Click here.


Top photo: diaz /Wikimedia Commons / This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license. / Whirling dervishes or Darveshes, Rumi Fest 2007.

Second photo:  Timm Guenther (Timm Busshaus) / Wikimedia Commons / This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license. / Rock formation near Hombori, Mali

Third photo: Public domain press photo / Yanni


Imee Ooi

By Elizabeth Doyle


Imee Ooi — I like New Age music. It gets a bad reputation when people feel like it’s taking something sacred and making it palatable to people who don’t appreciate its raw form — transforming something important into something that makes lovely white noise.  But it doesn’t have to be thin.  When it’s done well, New Age music can be sacred in its own rite — a merging of ancient chants or hymns with the modern science of enhancing music’s emotional impact. It can be a joining of two powers, a holy intention and a relaxing experience, rather than the watering down of just one power.  But only when it’s done well! Here’s a Malaysian New Age composer, Imee Ooi, who I think does it very well: Click here.



Mariem Hassan



Mariem Hassan — Here’s an interesting lady. She was born and raised in the western Sahara desert — one of ten children in a nomadic family. And boy, can she sing! I love it when she does that classic Saharan call-out, with her tongue fluttering like a wing. She’s Sahawari, and has survived annexation and refugee camps, both of which she’s been very outspoken about. Women have played a strong role in her culture, and you can see that confidence and competence when she performs. The language of her songs is Hassaniyya, an Arabic dialect. And she does write them. I’ve really never seen anything quite like her before:   Click here.






The Kirkyard Stone, Aberlemno, Scotland

Capercaille — Speaking of annexations, this is a very popular Scottish folk band, singing a song about England’s treatment of Scotland. This band has been around since the 1980s, which is quite remarkable, because the popularity of Celtic sounds wouldn’t take off until a bit after that.  I only have one of their albums, and this is my favorite song on it.  What I like about them is not only their instrumental expertise, the singer’s likeable voice, and the fact that they are early pioneers in the genre, but also their liveliness. The fact that they’re singing about something terrible, and yet, instead of feeling weighed down by sluggish intensity, the song feels … very, very alive. It’s interesting! Click here.


Top photo: author:Florenus / Wikimedia Commons / Public domain / Composer Imee Ooi


Second photo: Author:Carlos Fernandez San Milan / Wikimedia Commons / Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license / Mariem Hassan


Third photo: Original uploader was Xenarachne at en.wikipedia / Wikimedia Commons / Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported / The Kirkyard Stone, Aberlemno, Angus, Scotland, UK

By Elizabeth Doyle

Nneka — Nigeria has made some of the most popular music in all of Africa. They have some really excellent recording studios there, and a long history of putting out worldwide hits.  Here’s a modern rising Nigerian star that I like.  Her full name is Nneka Egbuna, and she was born in Nigeria to a Nigerian father and European mother.  Perhaps slightly influenced by famous Nigerian musicians like Fela Kuti, who helped establish Afrobeat, she also writes and sings songs that seem to be very much just her own thoughts, feelings and inventions. I like the honesty with which she sings. And what a sweet voice!  She’s my pick for the next international Nigerian sensation:  Click here.

D’Gary — You don’t have to be a guitar aficionado to appreciate how talented this guy is!  He hails from Madagascar, where music is as diverse as the people who live there, and he absolutely plays the guitar his very own way.  He even has an idiosyncratic way of tuning it.  He’s a descendent of the nomadic Bara tribe of Madagascar, and according to rumor, took his guitar playing to professional levels in part in order to help support his widowed mother.  I think he’s pretty spectacular. Here he is:






Mak Minah – Mak Minah Anggong was a traditional Malaysian singer from Kampung Peretak.  She was Temuan, and traditionally, many Temuans  believe that their people were put on this earth to guard the rainforests.  Mak Minah was herself an environmental activist who was very vocal against a damming project that forced many Temuans to leave their forests and ancestral lands. Devoted to the culture and traditions of her ancestors, she was also a heartfelt singer who was just stepping into the spotlight late in life, when sadly, she passed away rather suddenly. We do have some recordings of her singing, though.  Here she is, singing as part of the group, Akar Umbi:  Click here.

Top photo: Andreas Lederer / “Copyleft: This work of art is free; you can redistribute it and/or modify it according to terms of the Free Art License.” Nneka in 23 July 2009

Second photo: Tom Turner / “Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License Wikimedia Commons.”  A busy market street in Antananarivo, Madagascar, where D’Gary was born.

Third photo: 10014derek  /  “The copyright holder of this file allows anyone to use it for any purpose, provided that the copyright holder is properly attributed. Redistribution, derivative work, commercial use, and all other use is permitted.” / A picture of the view from Mt. Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia  


By Elizabeth Doyle

Philae Temple, Egypt

Isis – Long ago in Egypt, the mother of all nature and magic was Isis.  Her religion spread all the way to Greece and beyond.  Compassionate and devoted to her family, she was frequently depicted with her son on her knee. Her most famous story involves putting her husband back together after he’s been torn to pieces by an enemy.  There was sometimes both a sensual side to her worship (because of her role as a wife and partner) and an entreating side to her worship (because of her gentleness and compassion as a mother.) She had by far the strongest magical powers of all of the Egyptian deities, and was summoned the most often in people’s magic spells. Her temples from Egypt to Italy to Iraq continued to be places of worship well into the first several centuries AD. But in the end, decrees were put out to destroy them all, and a huge number of them met that fate.  Here’s a portion of “The Song of Isis” by the incomparable David Heath. Click here.

Celtic mirror

Brigid – She’s been both a Celtic goddess and an Irish Catholic saint. The goddess named Brigid was a goddess of poetry, and a keeper of all things “high” (from high thoughts to high flames to high mountains.) When Celtic lands were converted to Catholicism, a Saint Brigid emerged who is thought by many to be a new version of the Goddess, Brigid. High priestesses tending sacred flames was a long-standing Celtic tradition. And today, Saint Brigid is often honored by the keeping of never-extinguished flames.  In one spot in Ireland, nuns tend the flames of St. Brigid full-time. Here is a song to Brigid (pronounced “Breed” in Gaelic) by Beverly Frederick:  Click here.






Kwan Yin


Kwan Yin – She’s either a Chinese goddess or a Buddhist boddhisatva or a Taoist Immortal, depending on your religious beliefs. No matter which she is, Kwan Yin (or Guanyin) represents compassion. She’s the one who “hears the cries of the world.” She feels for us all and has mercy.  Her legend began in China, but today, she is also popular throughout East Asia. Because of her deep kindness, she is often associated with vegetarianism, and some think that she particularly looks after women and children.  Here’s a nice song about her by the silky-voiced Lisa Thiel. Click here.

Top photo: Arrivée en bateau au temple de Philaé, Assouan, Égypte; arriving by boat at the Philae Temple, Aswan, Egypt. / Image taken by Gilles RENAULT /Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 France license. / Wikimedia Commons

Second photo: Fuzzypeg / Early Celtic La Tène style in Britain. Date: 50 BC – AD 50. 36 cm diameter. British Museum highlights /Wikimedia Commons / British Museum / Public Domain

Third photo: Statue of Kuan Yin, Ming Dynasty, by Chaozhong He, photographed by Mountain at the Shanghai Museum. / Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license. / Wikimedia Commons

By Elizabeth Doyle

Monastery of St. Panteleimon, Macedonia

Esma Redzopova – The Roma people (sometimes called gypsies) have been some of the most persecuted people in the world. I’m sure I’ll get my history a little bit wrong here. But more or less, it’s thought that they may originally have come from India during the Middle Ages (No one’s sure why.) Then they landed in Eastern Europe (which is where the majority still live.) And to a large extent, they became a slave population there. Only in the 1800s was all slavery of Roma abolished. Many fled to other parts of Europe over the centuries, but they weren’t usually welcomed. Back then, the Roma preferred a nomadic lifestyle, and didn’t want to settle down and farm as some well-meaning neighbors tried to get them to do. Plus, they dressed a little differently, they sometimes married younger than what was considered acceptable, they had some customs and beliefs that Europeans found “superstitious”, and of course, they were poor, all of which made them a little unpopular. The poverty in particular caused a small number of them to do what many of us might do when we’re extremely poor. And it wasn’t long before the Roma gained a broad, generalized and therefore unfair reputation as thieves and beggars and particularly tricksters. So they continued to be persecuted. The Nazis tried to wipe them out completely in concentration camps, Czechoslovakia tried to sterilize their women, Spain took many of their children away. But through it all, somehow, their colorful culture and strong extended-family values survived. And Roma music kept on playing, influencing sounds throughout the continent, and eventually, all over the world. Possibly the most famous Roma singer of all time is Esma Redzopova, who lives in Macedonia, a place she declares treats its Roma population wonderfully, and she is currently a member of her local government! She’s been singing since she was a child, and has been a foster mother literally to dozens of orphaned children. Click here.

Sigriya Rock, Sri Lanka

Pandith Amaradeva – There’s a very strong music scene in Sri Lanka. It’s been heavily influenced by a lot of things over the centuries – Buddhism was one of the earliest and most major musical influences. The arrival of westerners brought some particular instruments, and of course, India and its films played a role. But all in all, Sri Lanka has a sound that’s all its own, and it has many fans. One name you have to know in Sri Lankan music is Pandith Amaradeva. Once people started making records, he’s one of the people who shaped the distinctive Sri Lankan sound that would be heard by the world. And he has the most velvety voice. Some Sri Lankans living abroad say they can’t hear him without feeling transported home: Click here.

Zebra, Nairobi National Park

Kalamashaka – I’m one of the only music fanatics I know who likes rap. Rap is music with the melody stripped out of it. It’s just voice and rhythm. It’s spoken word infused with rhyme, exaggerated emotion and a beat. People use it to communicate with power. To put force behind their words and to be heard. It gets a bad reputation sometimes because it speaks from and to the fire core of the personality. The words are wrenched from a visceral place. And so sometimes, other things that were locked in that Pandora’s Box come out – fantasies of violence, rage, misogyny, and destruction. None of that is a necessary part of rap. But it happens sometimes because rap explores the dark side of music – the side that isn’t pretty, but powerful. Rap really is proof of the raw force of music – the undeniable energy that all music taps into – even if you prefer something a little more comforting! Kalamashaka was one of the first really high quality rap groups to come out of Kenya. (In the world of rap, you’re considered high quality if you speak about rage, politics or social problems. You’re taken less seriously if your music is easy to dance to because that means your music is too “pretty” and not visceral enough.) Kalamashaka is a very well-respected socially conscious rap group from Nairobi, and is credited with helping make Swahili-rap a worldwide phenomenon. Kenya is now becoming a leader in the world of rap, and this is one of the songs that started it all: Click here.

Top photo: © Małgorzata Pakuła / / Monastery of St. Panteleimon, Macedonia

Second photo: Bernard Gagnon / Wikimedia Commons /   / Sigiriya Rock

Third photo: Sharon St. Joan / Zebra, Nairobi National Park 

By Elizabeth Doyle

a zebra in Botswana

Dikakapa – There really are few countries in the world more musical than Botswana.  It’s said that every school there features musical education and the learning of old songs as a critical component in its children’s curriculum. Traditionally, music there relies solely on voice and clapping.  Of course, instruments have gradually been added to the folk music. But voice and complex clapping is still the staple.  It’s natural that rap became very popular there very quickly, because that’s a natural extension of a lyrics-first musical ascetic.  South Africa and Europe have both brought musical ideas that Botswana has integrated into its music.  But Botswana has, in turn, founded musical styles like Kwaito Kwasa that have gone out and re-influenced the influencers. I like the rap, and the rock, and the Kwaito Kwasa that comes out of Botswana, but my favorite is still the folk music, like Dikakapa’s, addressing family issues, love, and sometimes just the rain: Click here.

handwoven Afghan rugs

Ahmad Wali –  Born in Kabul, Afghanistan, he was a very popular singer in his country from a very young age. He sang beautiful love songs and poems, and in the days when he was performing internationally, like at the famous Shiraz Arts Festival in Iran, all must have seemed to be going so well.  And then 1978 came.  He was placed under house arrest for having performed for the Afghan King. (I imagine it would have been hard to say no!) And it wasn’t long before he was simply forced to flee, using a fake passport.  In retrospect, one could say he actually made it out just in time!  That military coup turned out to be just the first of a very long line of tragic events in Afghanistan.  Ahmad Wali lived in Germany after his exile, and gave concerts to raise money for other Afghan refugees. His soothing voice and lovely music serves as a reminder of an older, happier Afghanistan.  This is apparently typical of what you would have heard on the radio back then.  Here he is at that concert in Iran – so long ago!  Click here.

Maori wood carving


Maisey Rika — New Zealand is one of those countries, I’m embarrassed to say, if I don’t think about it, I sort of think of as having been empty before the Europeans arrived. I have the feeling I’m not the only one. But of course, that’s not the case at all. The Maori have lived there for at least 500 years longer than the Europeans, and they still do.  Their legends tell of how they all arrived on boats from a mythical Polynesian island called Hawaiki.  (Of course, how do we know for sure that it’s mythical?  Maybe they really did.)  Centuries of island isolation gave the Maori a distinctive warrior culture, and traditions that are absolutely unique to them.  Historically, they were known to be pretty fierce (and even fearsome) hunters and warriors, but performance art and music has always been an important part of their community, too. In modern times, they’ve had an astounding number of international musical sensations from the famous operatic soprano Marie Te Hapuku to the 1950s and 60s crooner, Prince Tui Teka.   It’s really unprecedented for such a small group of people to have had so much musical stardom.  And if you happen to be my age, you’re going to appreciate this next one most of all:  You know Flight of the Conchords? In real life, Jemaine is half Maori.  For real!  But this is my favorite singer of Maori descent.  She isn’t very famous yet, but I don’t know why. Here she is singing in both Maori and English: Click here.

Top photo:  © John Loader /

Second photo: © Catherine Ortega /

Third photo: © Nikolai & Olga Vakhroushev  /

By Elizabeth Doyle

Elephants of Samburu, Kenya

Jami Sieber – I just bought this album.  It’s called “Hidden Sky” and it’s inspired by elephants. Yes, elephants!  Apparently, according to the album notes, a visit with the elephants in Thailand just about changed this musician’s life. Changed how she sees herself, and all those around her.  And changed how she plays music.  This is definitely the most haunting music she’s ever made. If I didn’t know it was about elephants, I would never have guessed.  But now that I know, I think I can feel their ancient gentleness in every note.  A portion of the proceeds of the album go to help elephants, so I can feel good about that.  And there is something absolutely mystical about what those giants have done to this music …..  I do believe that their presence is behind it. Click here.

A Dogon granery, Mali

Salif Keita – This guy’s really interesting. He’s literally descended from kings in Mali.  But he was born albino (lack of pigment in the skin), and for that reason, was cast out by his family.  If it hadn’t been for that, being in the caste he was in, he might never have become a singer, but as it was …. he went on to become a musical star! One theme in his music, naturally enough, is trying to teach that “different” does not mean “bad.” (Apparently, albinos can face some terrible persecutions in some parts of Africa – including human sacrifice.)  In addition, in interviews he’s spoken about some religious pressure from some mosques back in Mali that don’t like music.  But he seems to have no trouble uniting his love of his spiritual faith with his love of sound, and seems to be doing a lot of good in the process:  Click here.



Ergyron— I’ve always admired people who used to live in the Arctic … before we had indoor switches that turn on the heat.  I can’t imagine falling asleep in subzero temperatures every night and awakening every morning to …. More subzero temperatures.  I feel like I’d have a permanent case of the flu.  But of course, snow is

A Chukchi woman

also magical, mystical and romantic… when you don’t feel its bite.  And I think you can see both sides of Arctic life in traditional Arctic song and dance.  I feel like you can see the harshness of life – and also the wonder of snow glistening pink in the morning sunrise.  Ergyron comes from the Arctic of Russia (the Chukchi people). The group calls themselves Chukchi-Eskimo: Click here.







Top photo:  Sharon St Joan / elephants in Kenya

Second photo: Michelealfieri / / A granery in a Dogon village, Mali

Third photo: Konstantin Shevtsov / / a Chukchi woman