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01 juillet 2006

Singer-model Chyna Gordon's hot touch

Chyna Gordon

(...) Convinced about her future and secure about her identity, Chyna hit the London club scene, gigging wherever the opportunity arose and doing guest vocals on the albums of other musicians.In what must be one of the most powerful affirmations for word-of-mouth promotion, Chyna entered what could only be described as her 'golden phone call' phase.

The first call was from Peter Gabriel, who asked her to sing on the recording of his then breakthrough album, So (specifically on the smash single, Sledgehammer). "At the time, I really didn't even know who he was, but all the people I told were just gasping, 'oh! you're working with Peter Gabriel!' (...)

Real World Celebrates in Style!

Everyone on site at Real World had their fingers crossed on the morning of Wednesday 28 June and were looking skyward for signs of ominous black clouds! We were all hoping that it wasn't going rain! This was the day of the Real World Summer Party - our biggest celebration in the last 7 years- and we were relying on the sunshine to make it a perfect day.

The big event was to celebrate 20 Years of Real World Studios, its investment in a future of recording and the unique relationship with Real World Records. The refit and relaunch of two of the main studios - the famous Big Control Room and smaller Production Room - were the motivation to crack open a bottle of wine. It then seemed a good idea to invite a number of Real World artists to the studio and put on a concert in the grounds of the studio.

During the afternoon the invited media took part in a press conference where Peter Gabriel talked about the illustrious history of the studio, played some tasters of forthcoming music to be released on the label and introduced a number of musicians and producers.

Following a wonderful barbeque from resident Real World chief Geraldine, lashings of Pimms, fine wines, delicious deserts and west country cheeses the invited audience of friends and business associates enjoyed an evening of music.

Adrian Sherwood opened proceedings with a mellow 'dub lite' DJ set followed by new comer singer song writer Charlie Winston. Chinese flutist Guo Yue provided a magical moment of solo performance followed by the wonderful Daby Touré who got the crowd in party mood. Sevara Nazarkhan, the beautiful Uzbek diva, was outstanding. LIttle Axe brought the house down (even though we were all outside on the lawn) with a fantastic set of 21st century blues featuring the legendary Skip Mcdonald, Keith Le Blanc, Doug Wimbish and original Tackhead vocalist Bernard Fowler. Quite unexpectedly the band were joined on stage by Robert Plant (who was unable to resist the temptation to get up there with like-minded musicians!) followed by Peter and Sevara. What a finale! The whole evening was brought to a fabulous conclusion with a specially designed firework display - the scale of which has never been seen before in the skies above the village of Box!

And we didn't even have a light shower.....

29 juin 2006

Life's a beach at Womad

Revellers at this year’s Womad festival will get the chance to ditch their tents for a plush beach hut or stunning teepee. Music fans can say goodbye to the ground sheets and camping tables for a foam sofa bed, table and table lamp in the two-man huts or cosy down in one of the towering wigwams. The facilities are just some of a host of changes to be announced by the organisers of the World of Music, Arts and Dance extravaganza to make the increasingly popular festival bigger and better than ever.

More than 27,000 world music fans are expected to turn up to the Richfield Avenue site at the end of July for the 17th annual family-friendly event. This year will also boast a giant stage in three sections, which will host cinema and cabaret shows as well as scores of workshops. Revellers will also get a chance to try out a silent disco – where people get boogying to music via headphones – over the three-day event.

For the first time, there will also be comedy, with performances by political stand-up act Mark Thomas and children’s comic James Campbell, among the star turns due to make an appearance. Bobby Lonergan, of festival partner organisation, Reading Arts, said the site – traditionally the field outside Rivermead – would also be bigger this year. A deal has been done with Mean Fiddler, which organises the Reading Rock Festival and owns Little John’s Farm, land adjacent to the Rivermead site, to use part of Little John’s Farm for the new initiatives.

He also said the licensing application for the revamped festival was still on the drawing board but once approved by Reading Borough Council, it would be valid for several years. More showers and toilets – the lack of which last year resulted in an unpleasant whiff across the site – will also be brought in, Mr Lonergan added.

And to the delight of the festival’s aficionados, the beautiful handmade flags symbolising peace and friendship will make a return. Each year the festival, which is the brainchild of rock legend Peter Gabriel and is organised by the Womad Festival Organisation, brings more than 80 artists from 40 different countries to the town. This year, artists including Anoushka Shankar of India and American folk singer Nanci Griffith will appear.

Weekend tickets priced at £110 as well as day passes, with prices ranging from £35 to £55, are still available. For information and ticket bookings, please call the Womad hotline on (0118) 939 0930. For details about the beach huts and teepees, visit and click on the ‘location’ link. You can hire a traditional beach hut for two for £450 and the traditional Native American teepees, which can sleep up to 10 people, will also be on offer at prices ranging from £290 to £690.

28 juin 2006

Origine des Gnaoua et Gnaoua des origines

Perçus il y a quelques années encore comme des "mendiants" ou des amuseurs publics, les gnaoua sont aujourd'hui considérés, à juste titre, comme des artistes à part entière voire des stars que réclament et s'arrachent les scènes nationales et internationales les plus prestigieuses. (...)

Avec des différents styles qui puisent dans une même source, les maâlems gnaoua se prêtent bien à toutes les fusions et arrivent facilement à établir une complicité avec les plus grands virtuoses et musiques du monde. Jazz, blues, pop, techno ou percussions africaines se marie à merveille avec les jams, tant il est vrai que les Gnaoua sont des passeurs de musique et d'émotions.

Ils ont en donné la preuve en partageant avec brio la scène avec les Carlos Santana, les Peter Gabriel, les Led Zeppelin, les Robert Plant, les Randy Weston, les Pink Floyd, les Cat Stevens, les Jimmy Hendrix, les Henri Salvador, les Sapho, les Rita Mitsouko, et la liste est longue.

Télévision, cinéma et sociétés de communication aidant, la musique gnaouie est sortie de l'ombre pour investir les plus grandes scènes mondiales et ébahir leurs publics.

Mais pour ce genre de musique original, l'événement le plus marquant reste le festival d'Essaouira, ce boom gnaoui qui a profité à plusieurs artistes qui se sont trouvés propulsés hors des circuits traditionnels des laylats, drainant à eux seuls plus de 500.000 personnes du monde entier au titre de la 9ème édition du festival 2006.

Mohamed Chennouni

25 juin 2006

Charles to meet families of soldiers killed in Iraq

Malcolm Kendall-Smith, The RAF doctor is serving an eight-month prison term for refusing to return to Iraq. His supporters, who include the musician Peter Gabriel, claim he is a prisoner of conscience.

Prince of Wales to hear demands of bereaved relatives for British troops to be brought home

The Prince of Wales will be asked to support demands for British troops to leave Iraq when he meets the parents of soldiers killed in the Gulf war in private this week. Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall have invited several of the most prominent critics of Tony Blair's policy on Iraq to Highgrove this Thursday, including Reg Keys, who stood against the Prime Minister in his Sedgefield constituency at last year's general election.

Palace officials insist his meeting is non-political and based on his honorary position as a senior commander of the armed forces, but Mr Keys and other campaigning relatives, including Rose Gentle, believe he is privately sympathetic to their complaints. The event takes place the day after more than a dozen prominent celebrities, including the actor Simon Callow, the designer Vivienne Westwood and director Ken Loach, host a fund-raising event for the Iraq "refusenik" Fl-Lt Malcolm Kendall-Smith in London. The RAF doctor is serving an eight-month prison term for refusing to return to Iraq. His supporters, who include the musician Peter Gabriel, claim he is a prisoner of conscience.

The Highgrove reception is understood to include relatives who do not criticise Britain's role in the Iraq conflict, but Prince Charles's decision to meet parents such as Mr Keys and Mrs Gentle, whose son Gordon died in 2004, risks alarming military commanders. Mr Keys, who lost his son Thomas, a military policeman, in June 2003, said this meeting also contrasted markedly with Mr Blair's repeated refusal to meet the families. "It just shows that these two men are poles apart in integrity and compassion," he said.

"If I did get the opportunity to talk to him, I would have to say it's clearly a catastrophic strategic failure; that it has cost far too many lives and needs to be brought to a close." Peter Brierley, whose son Shaun died in March 2003, added: "Prince Charles is being a good national leader, isn't he? It seems a bit strange that the man elected by the people to be their leader refuses to meet us, but the bloke born into it is voluntarily doing so."

By Severin Carrell