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21 juin 2005

Ignored by Live 8, African acts plan own U.K. show

Tue Jun 21, 2005 5:49 PM BST

By Lars Brandle & Nigel Williamson

LONDON (Billboard) - British artist Peter Gabriel and Senegalese singer Youssou N'Dour are the driving forces behind a Live 8 spin-off concert focusing on African musicians, amid criticism that the main event ignores acts from the continent.

Under the banner Africa Calling, the concert will be held July 2 at the Eden Project in Cornwall, south west England, the same day as Bob Geldof's Live 8 shows, which will be held simultaneously in London, Philadelphia, Paris, Berlin and Rome.

Benin vocalist/songwriter Angelique Kidjo, Somali vocalist Maryam Mursal and Senegalese hip hop group Daara J are among the confirmed performers at Africa Calling. Other artists scheduled to appear include Mali legend Salif Keita, Thomas Mapfumo and Blacks Unlimited from Zimbabwe, Shikisha from South Africa and Tinariwen from Mali.

N'Dour will also perform after appearances earlier in the day at the Paris and London Live 8 concerts. Footage from Africa Calling will be shown as part of BBC TV's Live 8 broadcast but it is unclear how central to the coverage it will be.

Live 8 is intended to raise awareness of poverty in Africa ahead of the July 6-8 G8 summit of world leaders in Gleneagles, Scotland. Plans for an Australian concert link fell through last week. Until now, N'Dour was the only African artist scheduled to perform at Live 8, leading to criticism from the likes of Blur/Gorillaz frontman Damon Albarn and British broadcaster Andy Kershaw.

Island Records founder Chris Blackwell was among the industry figures who highlighted the absence of African artists at the Live 8 shows.Africa Calling will aim to assuage any such concerns.

"We just felt that Eden could provide a moment where those values of neighborliness and community could be made real with an intimacy larger venues would find difficult to capture," comments Tim Smit, CEO of Eden Project.

Announcing the concert, Gabriel said, "I talked at some length with Bob (Geldof) about this. I understand his criteria of trying to keep the largest audience around the world switched on and looking at issues about Africa through the artists selling the most records.

"I would have done it a different way -- I think it's important to be seen to be allowing the voices of Africa to be heard directly," added Gabriel. "A lot of artists don't feel this is a perfect situation, but respect the aims and goals. It's a difficult enough job trying to do what they want to do."

Gabriel has championed African music through his Virgin-distributed Real World label and his world music festival WOMAD. Yet the addition of the Eden project concert has not stopped the criticism of the lack of African artists at the main concerts.

Andy Morgan, manager of Tinariwen, who will play at Africa Calling, said that the African event should not be a "marginalized sop" but had to be central to the television coverage on the day. "Bob Geldof is missing a diamond opportunity to show the world that Africa has more to offer than poverty, starvation, corruption, war and wildlife," says Morgan.

"The whole thing has been handled appallingly and shows a deep disregard and disrespect for African musicians," added Ian Ashbridge, MD of Wrasse Records which has supplied several of the African acts. "There's still time to resolve this in the way it should be resolved in that they could add more African artists to the main bill."


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