Afrika! and back

10 Mar

It’s been radio silence here at Unsung, but only because thy humble writer has been in the air and travelling abroad, most notably to Zimbabwe. Africa is the kind of place that gets in your bones if you let it, and speaks to your soul about human truths that sometimes get lost in the congestion of Western life.  And the music is no different. So recently derided and delegated to the “World Music” section of record stores and radio stations, it is as diverse and vibrant as our own in North America; soul, groove, Afrobeat, funk, African jazz, rock – it’s all there.

On my flight from London to Johannesburg, the first song playing on the cabin speakers is Ladysmith Black Mambazo’s version of ‘Homeless’; a good omen if there ever was one:

I came to discover African music via the back door and easiest gateway, through the universal appeal of Paul Simon. In the mid-80s, struggling through a divorce and crisis of identity, Simon first heard the music of South Africa on a cassette tape, which he looped endlessly until he was suitably inspired to take a trip there. That evolved into some jams with local artists and the eventual brilliant collaboration that is Graceland (my favorite album of all time, a topic for another entry), which includes his work with Ladysmith Black Mambazo, a highlight to be sure.

Bumpy truck rides into the bush-veld, the random dance parties in night clubs in Victoria Falls, and the impromptu rhythm of its people in the streets of the slums have let me experience Africa in a whole new light. Check out the latest playlist Under African Skies and find your own gateway into a new continent of sound:

Under African Skies

One Response to “Afrika! and back”

  1. Heather Archibald March 15, 2013 at 7:26 pm #

    Was just reading the Touque girls today, which brought me to your blog. Lo and behold the first entry that I see is this one talking about my fave album as well (Graceland) and some more Mambazo to make my heart sing. Looking forward to making this blog one of my new regulars – cheers!

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