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25 août 2007

Peter Gabriel Finds A Way to Avoid Record Companies: Go Where the Money Is

A boutique investment firm in London has found an unlikely new business idea: releasing comeback albums for artists that major labels may not longer be lusting after. Today’s Wall Street Journal profiles venture capitalists Ingenious Media PLC, which has so far invested between $400,000 and $2 million per album to finance fifteen records by acts like UB40, the Prodigy and Peter Gabriel (who invested his own money in the fund).

The arrangement works like this: Once Ingenious gets tipped off to artists who are label-less but looking to release music, the firm ponies up for production, marketing and distribution costs. Profits from each record cover Ingenious’ investment. If the record makes money beyond that, the bounty is shared by the firm and the artist. So it’s just like a record label! Almost …

Ingenious specializes in “heritage” artists (rockers over forty) who may no longer flourish in the major labels’ record, promote, repeat mode. So instead, Ingenious sells bands directly to the people who will support them: longtime fans. From the bands’ perspective, Ingenious is like the least pushy label on earth — they don’t show up at the studio or weigh in on the single, and in an era of record-industry decline where everyone from Madonna to Joni Mitchell is searching for alternative ways to get their music out, these financiers could potentially work their way up to the level of a Starbucks or Live Nation.

Elizabeth Goodman

Gaudi: Dub Qawwali's architect

Italian electronic producer talks about taking on the catalog of the late Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, one of the world's most popular and revered artists.

Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan's popularity in the West might be limited to collaborations with Eddie Vedder and Peter Gabriel, but his catalog wasn't something that Italian producer Gaudi took on lightly.

Granted permission by the revered Pakistani icon's label to remix his catalog and full access with which to do so, Gaudi treaded lightly but still managed to take his epic, spiritual songs in a new direction, giving them an extra bounce by setting the vocals to dub and reggae beats.

Reached at his home in London, Gaudi spoke to about his first discovery of Ali Khan's music, diving headfirst into a body of work that is unparalleled in Eastern music, and the possibility of taking the music on tour...

Audio : Gaudi and Nustrat Fateh Ali Khan - "Bethe Bethe Kese Kese"


I'm curious when you first discovered him, his music. Was it a long time ago, like, in the '80s or something?

Exactly, yeah. It was early '80s. I was passionate about reggae music and world music, and had quite a collection of reggae vinyl and I wanted to explore world music. But back in the early '80s or late '70s, it wasn't that easy, especially for me. I used to live in Italy. So it was very difficult to find the artists and discovering the other side of the globe, musically speaking.

And I came across Nusrat. Obviously I didn't speak any Punjab or Urdu but the message that came across from his voice, what he delivered, it was something that completely changed my life, incredible, because sometimes you don't necessarily need to understand the words. The global message came across so purely. I decided to study and get deeper and deeper and understand the meaning of Qawwali music and this is it. And now it's 2007 and I did what I did.

Yeah. Now, it sounds like when you first heard him sing, what struck you most was that kind of underlying or overt theme of peace, love, and spirituality. It came across regardless of the language barrier and that kind of thing.

Precisely. Yeah.


For me that was, I don't know, it was pure love in the form of music.

Right. So how long has this concept been in your head that you wanted to bring this forward?

Well the concept of crossing musical boundaries has always been my direction. The first experiment that I did in crossing boundaries and using world music with dub and reggae was back in 1987 with a release called Ethnotechno. I've done 11 albums so far, all world music crossing with reggae music.

Two years ago, the Pakistani label Rehmat Gramophone, which was Nusrat's label, asked me to write new music around Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan vocals, and I was honored obviously.


I accepted it and Dub Qawwali is the result.

Absolutely. Now that was about two years ago. Have you been working on the project pretty intensely for that whole time? I can imagine, given the content of what he sings about and your love for it, that it could be a pretty emotional, heavy experience.

It was really, really difficult and very emotional for me because it wasn't an artist, it wasn't a singer, it was something different. It was a messenger, it was someone who had managed to expand Asian music all over the world. He managed to bring his culture of Sufism and Qawwali music to the world thanks to Peter Gabriel and some others, and that is an incredible success along the lines of Robert Nesta Marley did. Marley is another icon that was a spiritual being in that he was gifted like Nusrat in delivering extremely simple messages but so deep and in a way that was accessible for everybody, my mom, my grandma, my son, everybody in the world, Chinese, Africans, everything.

Accessible without losing that deep meaning where you kind of get everything at the same time. You get the deep meaning and the spirituality but you also get music that's easy to sink your teeth into and that kind of thing.

Exactly. And for me that's the biggest result that you can achieve with music, when it's not simply a pleasant tool, it becomes a serious delivering tool, with a message and content. That's, for me, the power of music. And that's what, in my little vision, I try to do. Fusing genres and crossing boundaries for me is not just experimenting and see what's going on.

Now part of that process was you taking some songs that were upwards of 20 to 30 minutes long and tweaking them, cutting them down to four- to seven-minute songs. What was the process like of which sections of his songs to focus on? Obviously you wanted to focus most heavily on the vocal sections.


But even still you had so much to choose from. How did you go through that process?

Well, it was a really difficult process, technically speaking. When I received the original studio reels from 1968 from Pakistan, it was a very unusual format, very, very old and there's not any studio around that kept that recording machine system. So I had to find a studio to transpose it in a digital format for me to visualize the .wav form. Nothing was written on paper, no music was at all. So we found a little microscopic studio in Scotland and we sent the reel and they sent it back to us.

Yeah, it's very bizarre. And then when I opened it, we had 24 songs all split in separate parts, vocals, a cappella, plus the sitar, the sarangi, the tabla. And I had goose bumps for two years, for the duration of my work. And when you hear these beautiful raggas, like, 25 minutes long or 35 minutes long, so beautifully crafted and uplifting, full of love and energy, I felt like something like, "I don't want to shorten it. I can't." It's like taking a painting and--

Cutting it in half.

Exactly. So I decided just to take a different approach, like, reinterpreting, in 2007, with my modern technology and my vision, keeping the full respect and integrity of the source for the original Nusrat songs. I started putting together what phonetically was right for me, with the help of a Pakistani translator, helping me with syllables and syntax and keeping the same flow and the same meaning.

Right, to make sure that your manipulations of the lyrics and the vocals didn't somehow change the meaning or the interpretation of the meaning and that kind of thing.

Yes, spot on. Precisely.


Also I didn't want to touch Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan's vocals by stretching them out or cutting them, I just wanted to keep the full vocals without any modification or digital transformation.

Interesting. Well you should be pretty proud of the result.

Thank you.

So I know you often tour as a DJ, but will you be taking this record on the road in more of a live setting?

I'm preparing the Dub Qawwali Live for 2008. And I want to do it with real musicians using my dub equipment on stage so I can do my live dub and obviously Nusrat can't be with us and I'm not going to replace him with a singer. I think I'm going to have all the full musicians with me and the only recording is Nusrat, which I will dub it live, with visuals, obviously, of him when he was alive.


By Jim Welte Conducted August 23, 2007, 02:13 PM

24 août 2007

Venture Capital, Rockin' to the Oldies

As Music Industry Sales Sag, A London Bank Steps In To Fund Veteran Performers

LONDON -- Past-their-prime rock bands are used to being ignored by record labels and mocked by the music press. But, in Britain, they've found a new groupie: venture capital.

A boutique London investment bank, Ingenious Media PLC, is financing comeback albums. Last month, it signed UB40, a reggae band that had a No. 1 hit in 1988 with the song "Red Red Wine." Other artists working on CDs for Ingenious include veteran rocker Peter Gabriel, and the techno punk band the Prodigy.


Ingenious was founded in 1998 by theater producer Andrew Lloyd Webber's accountant, Patrick McKenna, a former partner at accounting firm Deloitte & Touche. One of Mr. McKenna's early clients at Deloitte was English singer Peter Gabriel. The two men became friends, and Mr. Gabriel invested some of his own money in the Ingenious music venture-capital funds.

The two men agreed Ingenious would invest in Mr. Gabriel's next album, and in January, Ingenious paid $2 million for a 24.95% stake in Mr. Gabriel's 14th album, scheduled to be released next year. The deal gives Mr. Gabriel control over promotion and distribution of the still-untitled album in North America. Elsewhere, Mr. Gabriel is still signed to the Virgin record label.

Ingenious doesn't ask its rock stars to act like rock stars, something that appeals to the 57-year-old Mr. Gabriel, says Mike Large, chief operating officer of Peter Gabriel's management company, Real World Holdings Ltd. Musicians of Mr. Gabriel's age and experience are "not hungry for the circus of publicity, touring and autograph signing," he says."We know we have a great fan base who will buy the record if you tell them it's out there," Mr. Large says.

Dave Goldberg, a music entrepreneur at Benchmark Capital, a U.S. venture-capital investor, says it's too early to say if Ingenious's approach will take off in the U.S. "But we are going to see more and more of these different ways of creating financing for bands," he says.

Write to Aaron O. Patrick at

23 août 2007

Sheila Chandra : A different voice

For boundary-breaking music, Sheila Chandra remains a genre pioneer like no other. Her set is one of the major highlights of Womad Singapore 2007 this weekend.

Sheila Chandra became the first Asian artiste in England to attain Top 10 success via Ever So Lonely in 1982. The song drove the album,

Third Eye, to over 250,000-unit sales worldwide but the inability of recording company Phonogram to capitalise on the musical direction of Monsoon, the band Sheila formed in her teens, led to her leaving the group.

It marked her move out as a musician of fiery independence.

As a solo artiste, she devoted herself to exploring the drones and tones across a dominant Anglo-Indian template, which eventually led to the critically-lauded trilogy under the Real World label. Weaving My Ancestors’ Voices (1992), The Zen Kiss (1994) and ABoneCroneDrone (1996) remain the yardstick for aspiring non-conventional vocalists and the reference point for the possibilities held by the human voice.

In this exclusive email interview, Sheila, 42, recalls the early years that shaped her music and philosophy.

You stepped into the spotlight when you were 16 and then “retired” at the ripe old age of 20. This tendency to take long sabbaticals in between the production of your albums is a pattern that repeats itself throughout your career. Are there any reasons behind your proclivity to appear and disappear from public view?

My reason for “retiring” at 20 was that I had made five albums in three years and I really needed to stop and take stock, to give myself some time to do the wider vocal research I wanted. Sadly, my recent “sabbatical” from recording is due to the fact that I don’t have enough vocal stamina to write following the standard that I wish.

I’d love to record a new album but it will have to wait. Having said that, yes, I do think sabbaticals are essential to staying on the cutting edge of your own creative path. I need time to train and grow if I am to stay happy and engaged with what I do.

Eight years ago, I became aware that I was suffering from serious stage fright. I have spent much of the intervening time overcoming it to the point where I love being on stage. It was necessary for me to do that in a low-profile way that felt “safe” and un-pressured to me. So the time has been invaluable.

After being catapulted into the limelight at such a young age, you have steadily built up a portfolio not as only a singer but also an artiste. Did you recognise that distinction during your nascent years or was it discovered along the way?

After Monsoon disbanded in 1982, I was very aware of the distinction between being a singer and being an artiste, in the sense of knowing how much more responsibility that entailed. The set-up for my early albums on Indipop was very much designed to facilitate the learning process I’d set myself in order to shoulder those responsibilities. Steve Coe, my then-writing partner, and the founder member of Monsoon, grew up with The Beatles and prog-rock.

Although I didn’t necessarily get on with the music he’d loved as a teenager, he did inspire me with the stories of how those bands managed the business around them and their creative processes.

You have to remember I was still a teenager. I was 17. I was far too busy and excited about singing to rebel by dropping out. My rebellion went into my music. To my knowledge, I was the only full time artiste in “Asian Fusion” in the 1980s. There was no one to learn from and I was serious about exploring the form as well as I could.

The voice is arguably the most versatile and powerful music instrument and you have achieved wonders with yours through your Real World releases. How did this fascination with vocal experiments come about?

I was always fascinated by the voice. (It is) ubiquitous and taken for granted. It is the only instrument connected directly to your blood supply and subject to all those chemical processes in the body that make you feel emotion.

It is the only instrument which belongs to every musical culture and which has remained the same in its construction across continents and history. There is an almost cellular memory and instinct in all of us, if we will let it surface, in how our various means of expressing emotion through the voice all connect. The really concrete element to my obsession with voice, however, is how fantastic it feels physically to sing when you can do it well. It is addictive.

Once you can do it, you just want to keep going!

There is a notion that you exist on the fringes of what we conveniently term “world music” – an outer space that is not inhabited by boundaries. How difficult was it to achieve this?

It is both easy and difficult. You must be prepared to express your passion for what truly interests you musically, regardless of how weird and out of step it is and regardless of how it relates to the way you sounded on your last album (especially if that album was successful).

You must be prepared to abort a project if it turns out to be structurally “shaky”. And you must curb your wish to sound “trendy” like everyone else, or to take a successful pre-existing formula from someone else. You must also give up your need to be understood or applauded, or to fit in. Do all that and it is really easy to sound “different.”

Sheila Chandra has a one-night gig at Womad Singapore 2007 (Aug 24-26) during the festival opener tomorrow. For details and packages, browse ( Venue: Fort Canning Park. Asian Dub Foundation, Youssou N’Dour, Daara J, Mahotella Queens, Shooglenifty and more will perform.

A high-wire act

Gerry Cottle, showman and former circus impresario, and his PA, Louise Prior


Gerry sold his final circus interests four years ago to buy Wookey Hole in Somerset, where visitors explore haunted caves, see a working paper mill, eat in the Big Top restaurant and can enjoy a show put on by graduates of Gerry’s new circus school. In all of this, he is helped by Louise Prior, who is operations and events manager “and Gerry’s PA in my spare time”.

Formerly a special needs teacher, she went to university as a mature student and fell into events management by accident: “I went on holiday to Zimbabwe and met some wonderful singers. I thought British people should hear them, so arranged a tour.” She worked at the Glastonbury Festival, Womad and the Eden Project, before going to Wookey Hole after Gerry bought it.

Would she have taken the job if she had known of his past? “He’s very open about his life and we’ve all done things we shouldn’t have,” she says. “I read his book in draft and it sums up his drive, vision and energy. He’s very hands-on, as am I. We get 250,000 visitors a year and there’s always a lot to do. We’ll both clear tables and pick up litter. I always get in to work before Gerry and have 45 minutes to myself. When he arrives, we go through the post and e-mails, which I have to print out as Gerry doesn’t do computers. He hand-writes everything and I’m one of only a few who can read his writing. Gerry always has projects on the go, like his circus school. It has 400 seats and trained 50 local children at Easter to juggle, ride unicycles and do low-wire walking. Much was derelict when we came here but Gerry has transformed it. We do weddings — people get married in the caves — and receptions, and Hallowe’en nights, and now he’s planning a hotel. It’s never boring.”

Confessions of a Showman
, by Gerry Cottle with Helen Batten, is published by Vision Paperbacks tomorrow.

Rosalind Renshaw (The Times online)

Roots Music to Rock the Pier Thursday

August 23 -- Roadhouse rock and country fiddle should add up to a swinging time on the Santa Monica Pier at a free concert Thursday night.

The lineup features the Holmes Brothers, a band that mixes Saturday night roadhouse rock with the gospel fervor and spine-tingling harmonies of Sunday’s church service. Their years together make for telepathic musicianship that exudes a boundless energy.

USA Today calls The Holmes Brothers’ vision of American roots music "masterful and convincing", while Entertainment Weekly says, "The Holmes Brothers are juke-joint vets with a brazenly borderless view of American music."

Critics have hailed their chilling harmonies, which resonate with a passion and conviction matched only by their inspired musicianship. They have recorded with Van Morrison, Peter Gabriel, Odetta, Phoebe Snow, Willie Nelson, Rosanne Cash, Levon Helm and Joan Osborne, and toured the world.

The Holmes Brothers will share the stage with singer, songwriter and violinist Carrie Rodriguez, whose simple goal to get a gig playing fiddle with somebody great, be on the road and make a living has been far exceed in five short years.

Rodriguez was discovered at Cheapo Discs in her hometown of Austin, Texas, backing outsider country act Hayseed at an in-store gig during the 2001 South By Southwest music convention. Since then, her unique collaboration with veteran songwriter Chip Taylor has yielded three critically acclaimed albums of duets. Rodriguez has enthralled record buyers and concert audiences throughout North America and Europe.

The Santa Monica Pier is located at the intersection of Colorado Avenue and Ocean Avenue in Santa Monica. The Pier strongly recommends walking, biking and using mass transit to get to the concerts as parking near the Pier is limited. The concerts will offer free valet bike parking to our patrons at the western entrance to the shows. For those who insist on driving, parking is available in beach parking lots located at 2030 Barnard Way and 1550 PCH, both accessible off Ocean Avenue south of the Pier. The 2030 lot is a short walk up the beach path from the Pier.

Womad stages its biggest show this year

SINGAPORE : Six stages, a holistic corner and feel-good vibes - Womad (World of Music, Arts and Dance) opens on Friday at Fort Canning Park.

Now in its 10th year, it is expected to draw over 20,000 visitors with returning acts Asian Dub Foundation (ADF), Johnny Kalsi and Daara J as headliners. This year’s show is also the biggest so far, with an additional stage over last year’s five, and a new “holistic corner” where concertgoers can opt for reiki healing and palm-reading as a chillout alternative to the partying.

Launched by British musician Peter Gabriel in England in 1982, the annual event has been staged in more than 27 countries worldwide including Sri Lanka, Colombia, South Korea and the Canary Islands.

The Singaporean version debuted in 1998 as a curtain raiser for the Singapore Arts Festival. It was an instant hit, and became a stand-alone event the following year. Womad costs about $1.2 million each year to produce.

Besides Anglo-Indian electro rockers ADF, Anglo-Indian percussion Johhny Kalsi, African hip-hop troupe Daara J this year, other acts worth the ticket price are Senegalese pop titan Youssou N’Dour, British-Indian vocalist Sheila Chandra, Cameroonian troubadour Muntu Valdo as well as classical music singer David D’Or from Israel.

“It’s essentially Woodstock unplugged,” said long-time fan Marc Grigoroft, a 52-year-old creative director at an advertising company.

The comparison is apt: Just as Woodstock provided the unifying bond through rock music in 1969, Womad has exposed heartlanders (in Singapore, at least) - through its annual outreach programmes held in neighbourhoods like Tampines, Punggol and Hougang — to genres as far flung as Nigerian desert blues, Brazilian samba to Senegalese hip-hop.

Still making waves after a decade, here’s why you shouldn’t miss Womad this year...


22 août 2007

N'est pas visionnaire qui veut

N'est pas visionnaire qui veut (chronique d'une rentrée annoncée)

Finalement, cette rentrée s'annonce assez mouvementée, du fait des alliances qui se sont nouées ou défaites au fil de l'été. Par exemple, celle d'Universal avec Google, que j'évoquais dans mon dernier billet. Ou encore celle de MTV avec RealNetworks (Rhapsody). Ou celle d'Universal Music France avec Neuf Telecom.

D'ici au Midem 2008, c'est tout le secteur de la musique en ligne qui risque de se métamorphoser, de voir ses modèles un peu poussifs remisés au placard, d'innover, de s'industrialiser, de se concentrer un peu, aussi, et de se lancer dans une féroce bataille concurrentielle. Certains signes ne trompent pas, comme la réaction immédiate d'Orange au lancement du service Neuf Music de Neuf Telecom, par exemple.

Une multitude de services de musique illimités vont éclore, sur les mobiles, les PC, qui seront gratuits pour l'offre de base (limitée à un seul genre musical chez Neuf Telecom), et forfaitisés pour les offres premium (écoute et téléchargement illimités).

Ils feront parti désormais du package de services par défaut des fournisseurs d'accès, des opérateurs mobiles, des fabricants de hardware et j'en passe. Ces services vont également irriguer les moteurs de recherche (gBox), les réseaux sociaux et les blogs (avec les widgets, comme ceux que vient de lancer Apple, sous le label My Tunes).

Globalement, le deal est plutôt équilibré. D'un côté, le consommateur, parce qu'il est abonné à Internet ou chez un opérateur mobile, accède gratuitement à un service de base illimité et à une offre plus large pour un coût forfaitaire relativement modique (le prix d'un paquet de cigarettes tous les mois chez Neuf Telecom). De l'autre, les ayant droit sont rémunérés via les accords passés avec les opérateurs.

Bien sûr, tout cela est farci de DRM. Et c'est probablement là que le bas blessera. Car les contraintes liées aux DRM risquent de dissuader les consommateurs d'adopter massivement ces services, ce qui est la condition sine qua non de leur succès.

La musique s'écoute, se copie et s'échange. Les offres de téléchargement sans DRM s'accordent avec ce tryptique, même si les stratégies divergentes des uns et des autres - Universal Music qui snobe Apple, Warner Music et Sony BMG qui continuent à intégrer des DRM à leur musique - contribuent à entretenir une certaine confusion.

Mais tôt ou tard les DRM disparaîtront, comme ont disparu les protections contre la copie sur les CD.

Ce n'est pas ce qui se profile, en revanche, dans le cas de ces offres illimitées qu'on peut s'apprêter à voir pulluler, et qui pour être illimitées, n'en enfermeront pas moins le consommateur dans un carcan de contraintes techniques, et l'empêcheront de copier et d'échanger librement.

Vivement, donc, les offres illimitées sans DRM. Ca nous changera. Ou plutôt cela correspondra un peu mieux aux nouvelles pratiques qui se développent et qui pour certaines d'entre elles ont même tendance à se généraliser, comme de ramener deux gigas de musique sur une clé USB de chez un ami.

En attendant, certaine grande figure de la musique pop contemporaine, qui se double d'un pionnier de la distribution en ligne et d'un business angel avisé, est déjà passée à l'étape suivante.

Peter Gabriel, puisqu'il s'agit de lui, vient en effet d'investir quelques millions de dollars dans The Filter, un système de recommandation et de génération de playlists qui se lance sur le marché. Le service, qui peut reconnaître cinq millions de titres, compte déjà 150 000 utilisateurs et en séduit 25 000 de plus chaque mois.

Dans ce registre, je vous ai déjà parlé sur ce blog de Music IP. Gabriel a compris que genre d'outils deviendra très vite le nerf de la guerre, parce que c'est eux qui feront qu'une musique sera écoutée ou non, et rémunérée équitablement à terme, en conséquence.

"La première vague de la révolution numérique a apporté la liberté de choix, et à consisté à faire que tout soit accessible à tous, depuis n'importe où, à tout moment", explique Gabriel à The Independent. "Je pense que la prochaine vague va nous libérer du choix, il sera possible de filtrer et de se concentrer sur ce qui correspond le mieux à nos attentes", poursuit-il.

N'est pas visionnaire qui veut, et s'il ne fallait écouter qu'un seul prophète, je préfèrerais Gabriel à Job...

Coming home: The Soweto Gospel Choir

The Grammy Award winning Soweto Gospel Choir is to perform their first national tour in September.

From Europe to the United Kingdom and Asia, Australia to Canada and the United States of America, Soweto Gospel Choir continues to wow audiences across the globe. In September 2007, this multi international and Grammy-Award winning choir returns home for their first national tour of South Africa. The tour begins in Cape Town on 8 September, followed by performances in Port Elizabeth and Johannesburg, ending with three performances in Durban at the Playhouse.

The choir will be debuting their new show African Spirit with the theme of “a spiritual journey, performed with true African Spirit”. The repertoire will include songs that deal with the many different aspects of the human spirit, whether the religious spirit (gospel), the spirit of love for another human being (Bob Dylan’s “I’ll Remember You”), the spirit of living together as one nation (“World In Union”) or just the spiritual love of life.

The South African world music sensations have had a remarkable 2007. They did us proud by winning the 2007 Grammy Award for their CD Blessed in the “Best Traditional World Music” category; they followed this with a SAMA Award for “Best Live DVD” for Blessed; they were nominated for the 26th International Reggae and World Music Awards held in Harlem in May this year and they released their highly anticipated 3rd CD African Spirit.

Since Soweto Gospel Choir’s introduction to the world four and a half years ago, this amazing choir has amassed a growing international fan-base. The choir has appeared on ‘The Tonight Show with Jay Leno’, has performed for Bill Clinton, has sold out concerts throughout the world and has sung alongside icons such as Bono, Peter Gabriel, Queen, Diana Ross, Johnny Clegg, Jimmy Cliff and Bebe Waynans. They’ve recorded with Robert Plant and recently were the support act for the Red Hot Chili Peppers in Germany.

The experience of hearing and seeing Soweto Gospel Choir live is like none other. Their emotionally rich vocal performances, athletic dance numbers and spectacularly coloured garb engage all of your senses.

Nusrat Was My Elvis

Tuesday 21 August 2007 13:30-14:00 (Radio 4 FM)
Repeated: Saturday 25 August 2007 15:30-16:00 (Radio 4 FM)

On the tenth anniversary of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan's death, Navid Akhtar examines the musical legacy of the hugely influential Qawwali singer, Akhtar's spiritual and musical hero. Nusrat's haunting voice enraptured millions across the globe and he successfully collaborated with countless top western musicians and film-makers.

Listen again here

On :

To mark the 10th anniversary of Pakistani singer Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan's death, journalist and film-maker Navid Akhtar examines the legacy of this musical megastar whose haunting voice enraptured millions across the globe and who successfully collaborated with countless top Western musicians.

It was American singer-songwriter Jeff Buckley who, in 1993, described Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan as "his Elvis". In this programme, Akhtar looks at how this musician of an art form distinctive to Northern India and Pakistan became a global superstar in his own right and the most famous artist to emerge from the sub-continent since Ravi Shankar.

Akhtar examines the impact Nusrat had on Asian culture in the UK and on the global music scene of the Eighties and Nineties. He tracks Nusrat's path from a long line of Qawwali musicians who sang devotional love songs at the shrines of the Sufi priests, to the voice on soundtracks of films directed by the likes of Martin Scorsese, Oliver Stone and Tim Robbins.

And, through Akhtar's personal story, listeners learn how Nusrat's music enabled a young Pakistani teenager to connect to his own cultural background.

Contributors include Nitin Sawhney, Massive Attack's Robert Del Naja, Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan and Peter Gabriel.

21 août 2007

Interview: Daryl Hall

Believe it or not, Daryl Hall is an indie rocker. While the success of Hall & Oates in the 1970s and 80s-- eight #1 singles, but who's counting?-- was fed by major label dollars and the rise of MTV, they also spent years building a career, and more years rebuilding it after falling off the charts in the grunge-dominated 90s. But since the turn of the millennium, Hall & Oates have been back with new records, successful tours, and plenty of attention from the next generation, whether it's the Gym Class Heroes' upcoming Hall & Oates mash-up album, or Hall's cameo on HBO's Flight of the Conchords.

Outside of music, Hall has a passion for buying and restoring antique houses. He owns properties in New York and Connecticut, and this spring he bought a 17th century house in Maine, where we met him for this interview. He's enthusiastic about the "anything goes" attitude of the 00s, where pop, punk and soul rub elbows and nobody's too cool to dig "Rich Girl". "What's happening now is the best thing that's happened to music in 40 years," says Hall. "And it's great for people like me, because I am not easy to categorize."....


....Pitchfork: Your first solo record, Sacred Songs [recorded 1977, released 1980], is a really interesting album in your catalog. How did you meet Robert Fripp?

DH: I met Robert through a friend in about 1974, and we became friends right away. We have a lot of the same interests, and we just got along. I was first starting to spend a lot of time in England then, so I would stay at his house, and he used to stay at my house, and all that. We were really good friends. And then he went away to Gurdjieff Camp, and I was the only person in the outside world he was communicating with.

Pitchfork: Gurdjieff Camp?

DH: Yeah, he decided he was going to follow the teachings of [G. I.] Gurdjieff, which is basically like the boot camp of the mind. And so I was sort of his touch with some form of reality. And after he came through that period, he wanted to reenter the music world, because he had stepped away. And so he and I got together, and we said, let's do some projects. And we got Peter Gabriel and various other people, Pete Hammill, and the Roches-- we had a loose-knit group of people, and I did my album, Sacred Songs, and then we did Exposure, and I'm trying to think what happened after that-- well then he did the Peter Gabriel album [II aka Scratch]. But the Exposure album was the second collaboration with me, and I was supposed to be the singer on that whole album. Because he did my album, I did his album.

[But] I was with RCA at the time, and they balked. They wouldn't allow my vocals to be put on his records. All the vocals you hear on Exposure are completely my ideas that were as best as could be done copied by other people, except for two or three songs. And that was really disheartening. That's when I completely fell out of love with the music business.

Robert and I did as best we could through all that, but I think we made some really interesting music. I think taking somebody who comes from my background, and taking somebody who comes from his musical background, and putting them together, is a very interesting idea ... to try and take two soulful sounds from two different cultures, and put them together, and form a third kind of music. And that was the idea. Simple as that. I mean, there was no-- well, I won't say there was no conceptual thought, because there was a lot of conceptual thought. But there was no thought beyond that. We were just going to do what came natural to us. Either I would write the words with Robert or he had his girlfriend at the time who was writing some lyrics, and we would just come up with some lyrics, he would put a track together, and I would just sing. Everything was first takes. Everything was spontaneous. And that's how we dealt with it.

Pitchfork: Would it be fair to say music that's more textural, like Frippertronics, or uses pure sound, uses a different element from what you might find in a lot of soul music?

DH: No. There's a similarity, because soul music is totally non-intellectual, and I say that in the artistic sense. You don't think. There's no thought process. It's soul, it comes straight from the heart and the brain right out through the mouth without any thought. I've always been a spontaneous singer. And all the stuff that you hear on the end of the songs, what they call the ad libs-- that just comes out of my head. That's not thought out at all. I have the verses and the choruses and then after that it's total improvisation.

Pitchfork: You also at the time were interested in mysticism, and reading up on things like Alestair Crowley -

DH: Well, that was around my Robert time. A lot of people go through that kind of thing. And I went through it, and I retained a lot of it, and I discarded a lot of it. My life was unbalanced at the time, when I was doing that.

Pitchfork: But it was a chance to get some answers, or some perspective?

DH: It wasn't really answers. It was more self-analysis, perspective-- pushing the boundaries of metaphysics, as well as, you know, to see what is real, and what isn't real. You know? And that's a flexible thought


Interview by Chris Dahlen

Get lifted: African World Festival will boost your spirits with music, dancing and art

Feed the mind with history and please the eye with art. Nourish the body with exotic and traditional cuisine, and lift the soul with music and dance during the 25th annual African World Festival at Hart Plaza today and Sunday. Hosted by the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, the festival transcends boundaries, says Will Burnett, public program manager. "We try to provide activities and entertainment which appeal to all ages, colors and walks of life. There is a bit of Africa and its traditions in all of us."

New to the festival is the African Family Village, which features a wide range of activities that expose youth to African heritage and culture through arts and crafts, games, face painting and music.

Back again is the crowd-pleasing Step Show, with black fraternities and sororities performing intricately choreographed dance routines. "It is a big part of African-American culture and displays the precise drill movements that are really very similar to African dance and choreography."

Bring a hearty appetite and sample African and African-American cuisine served up by more than a dozen vendors, or get your holiday shopping done now and peruse the wares of 200 vendors selling clothing, jewelry, arts, crafts and CDs.

And don't think about missing a musical lineup that includes Afro-jazz, world music, blues, R&B, jazz, hip-hop and gospel. See Detroit's own, rap group Slum Village and R&B singer Charlie Wilson (formerly of the Gap Band) burn rubber on stage today. Befittingly on Sunday, enjoy the sounds of gospel with award-winner Vickie Winans and spiritual music pioneers the Blind Boys of Alabama.

The festival ends on a high-energy note when Afro-pop singer Angelique Kidjo belts out her hits. Her new album, "Djin Djin," features Alicia Keyes, Joss Stone, Carlos Santana, Peter Gabriel, Ziggy Marley and Josh Groban.

Kidjo, a native of the African country of Benin, has captivated music lovers around the globe for more than 20 years with her distinct sound and powerful stage performances.

"I love being on stage and I always try to give the best performance and to interact with the audience," she says. "I have played in more than 50 countries with very different cultures, but I feel the same bond with people. You have to get ready to dance and sing with me."

Ursula Watson / The Detroit News

Making a splash : Womad Singapore 2007

Out of Africa: Catch Senegalese Youssou N’Dour at Womad Singapore 2007 at Fort Canning Park.

When it rains, it pours. The weather aside, that oft-used phrase took an appealing twist this year when three world music festivals were scheduled within one-and-half-months in this region.

Two of them – the Rainforest World Music Festival in Santubong, Sarawak, and Penang World Music Festival – opened the floodgates last month. Those were tasty appetisers leading up to Womad Singapore 2007, which throws the celebration to end all celebrations with an uncompromising line-up for their 10th anniversary bash.

Grouses over the quality of Womad Singapore performers have been growing louder over the last few years – but despite the complaints the festival did attract a record crowd of over 19,600 last year.

For Womad Singapore 2007 at Fort Canning Park, there will be no issues over the jaw-dropping group of musicians assembled to light up the three-day world music jamboree from Aug 24 to Aug 26.

Youssou N'Dour and the Super Etoile de Dakar, Mahotella Queens, Asian Dub Foundation, Sheila Chandra, Daara J, Oki Dub Ainu Band, Etran Finatawa and Shooglenifty are joined by master drummer Johny Kalsi and BBC Radio 1 jocks Bobby Friction and Nihal in what is arguably a list nearing hall of fame proportions.

Great Scot!: Shooglenifty of Scotland.
There is finally a solid reason to stay back and soak it all in for the entire duration of Womad Singapore 2007 rather than picking the days to turn up at Fort Canning later this month. Those who have been ardently following Womad Singapore since the late 1990s would legitimately feel that it has degenerated into summer camps for the island’s expatriates and an assortment of tourists rather than a genuine avenue for outstanding music from around the planet.

Bagging the “Best Event Experience” gong in Singapore’s Tourism Awards in 2004 further underlined this shift in scope and while it has grown boundlessly (the team headed by Womad’s Regional Operations Director for Asia, Sarah Martin, deserves nothing but unstinting praise for its progress), the music side of the event appeared to have suffered in the process. By way of compensation – or pandering to the needs of its younger crowd if you insist on being a cynic – we have had late night sessions by renowned deejays and a longer roll of musicians for Womad.

A beneficial offshoot of Womad Singapore is the community outreach programmes that have been engaging schools and institutions of higher learning – which explains the larger turnout of students and undergraduates in recent years. Essentially, this project is to introduce the music of the world to the “download” generation, and gradually create a market segment that would help sustain Womad Singapore. This is a tough proposition in any demography, more so in a nation eagerly in search of a cultural identity.

The workshops – the enduring hallmark of all Womad festivals around the globe – have also moved up a notch. This year’s scheduling features potentially enlightening discussions helmed by such articulate and vocal musicians as Asian Dub Foundation’s Chandrasonic and veterans in the shape of Womad director and co-founder Thomas Brooman.

Master musicians: Daara J, an impressive West African hip hop act.
Elsewhere, Womad Singapore’s commitment towards arranging collaborations between participating musicians and their aspiring Singaporean counterparts continues with the National University of Singapore’s Chinese Orchestra’s alliance with Niger’s Etran Finawatra.

Their joint effort on Aug 26 is a coup that must not be underestimated and will hold us in suspense until its revelation, as this is probably the first serious Afro-Chinese venture at Womad Singapore.

We have a great deal to look forward to as the countdown begins to the premier world music festival in South-East Asia.

Asian Dub Foundation (ADF), in their second Womad Singapore appearance since their debut in 2000, will headline the opening day in a 90-minute one-off gig. Since their last studio album, Tank in 2005, the group has undergone changes to their membership and music, and Womad Singapore 2007 will see a fresh and re-energized ADF.

One-off gig: Asian Dub Foundation will add a touch of Anglo-Indian attitude to the proceedings.
Only three of ADF’s eight – Steve Chandra Savale aka Chandrasonic, John Pandit aka Pandit G and Sanjay Tailor – who appeared in Womad Singapore 2000 will return to conquer Fort Canning. It is uncertain whether Deedar Zaman (Master D), ADF’s charismatic former frontman and co-founder who recorded a new track for their first ever compilation album Timefreeze this year, will join the Anglo-Indian collective for the Asian leg of their tour. Regardless of which ADF version appears on stage, mayhem is guaranteed.

Sheila Chandra, the other British-based world beat revolutionary at Womad Singapore – and one for whom the term avant garde would not be a misnomer – is also slated for a one-night-only show which precedes ADF on the same day.

Sheila is respected for her ferocious independence in making music and her relentless focus on experimental albums and projects. Noted for the output through the Real World labe, three releases that features her haunting vocals in a setting that can only be described as futuristic, Sheila’s show is one of curiosity and promise.

Two of Africa’s major names and another two upcoming bands from the continent will also grace Womad Singapore 2007 and it is fair to say that the organisers have struck the right note in balancing the acts. Mahotella Queens are pioneers in blending traditional music of South Africa with homegrown jazz of the apartheid era.

Senegal’s Yousou N’Dour and the Super Etoile de Dakar – the masters of incorporating folk tunes and odes with Western pop – need no further introduction while their younger compatriots Daara J are reputed to be the amongst the leading hip-hop outfits in the continent, fusing hard-edged rap with politically conscious words. Etran Finawatra, a late “discovery” in the burgeoning Toureg music field and a name to be reckoned with, complete Africa’s involvement.

The grand finale for Womad Singapore 2007 will feature Mahotella Queens, N’Dour and his band plus Daara J in addition to Sheila and Dhol Foundation’s main man Johnny Kalsi. That final fling alone is worth the price of admission. This is undoubtedly the best party that the Womad Singapore organisers have put together and it is apt for a decade of good live outdoor music.

Details on the Womad Singapore 2007 schedule, packages, and more are available at

Festival watch : Womad, Charlton Park, Wiltshire

They called it Womud: in all directions primordial mire and people wading through it, falling over, moving with deliberation around immovable objects, with kids in tow/a pint in each hand. Backstage, performers from Rajasthan to Senegal were taking photos of each other in funny English wellies or, when there were no boots left, plastic bags tied round their feet.

Two centimetres of rain in two hours on the eve of Womad's 25th-anniversary festival, and its lush new site in the grounds of a stately home in Wiltshire (farewell, Reading...), complete with friendly viscount and only one dissenter in the village, was deemed a health hazard by some, who baled out early. Others, however, slowly sinking on the spot, danced from the knees up.

Memorable moments included Mexico's Lila Downs (imagine Frida Kahlo on maracas) singing 'La Iguana', wiggling her elbows in the air in an uncanny lizard impersonation to a dizzy surge of harp; Cape Verde veteran Cesaria Evora's onstage fag-break; a new generation of the Zawose family from Tanzania, all polyphonies and thumb pianos, later reappearing in full ostrich-feathered splendour to thunderously close out 'The Rhythm of the Heat' for Peter Gabriel; and Baaba Maal, sailing upstage in priestly white and gold, backed by the serried ranks of his luxurious big African band and a big, bright moon.

Less, however, was often more; Tuareg rebel riffsters Tinariwen, with a line-up depleted due to malaria and a missed plane, nevertheless worked their sinuous magic on Sunday's sunstruck crowd. Some way down the billing, Bassekou Kouyate, one-time ngoni player for Ali Farka Toure, now fronting a fine band on the up, won many new admirers, shaking deep Malian blues out of an instrument that could double as a cricket bat. And with her four faithful accompanists seated behind and following her every syllable, possibly no one attracted more adoration than Mariza, Lisbon's peroxide fadista, a unique combination of charm and drama, statuesque in long black dress, inhabiting the world's most intense songs to the point of tears, wellies waiting in the wings.

The Observer, Carol McDaid, Sunday August 5, 2007

his is the World Service - of global music

Listened to by millions, from Uganda to Iraq, Charlie Gillett may be the most influential DJ on the planet.

Charlie's world music hot properties

At last weekend's Womad festival in Wiltshire, a lot of the movers and shakers of world music - the record company bosses, promoters and media types - were absent, put off by the floods and severe weather warnings.

Wags had dubbed it Womud. But it would take more than that to put off Charlie Gillett, the 65-year-old DJ and hugely influential world-music enthusiast, who I watched playing a DJ set at the small but appropriately titled Under A Tree Stage on the Sunday.

For his weekly programme on the BBC World Service, Gillett has a considerably larger audience than the Womad crowd - it runs into millions. "One guy emailed last week from Uganda," says Gillett, "to say he woke up from a nightmare, put on the radio and heard me playing Ali Farka Touré - he included his phone number, so I called him back." Other recent emails have come from US military personnel and ordinary citizens in Iraq.

I met Gillett the day after Womad, in the South London house, where he has lived with his family and his massive record collection since 1969. He bought the place for £5,000. "The mortgage was less than my weekly paper bill," he says, which has helped him pursue his often poorly paid adventures in global music.

Next week sees the release of what has become the essential annual overview of the world music scene, his Sound Of The World compilation series. The two-CD set mixes better-known bands such as Tinariwen, Gotan Project and Ladysmith Black Mambazo with his latest discoveries. "One change in the last few years is the number of exciting new women singers," he says. "This compilation is two-thirds female."

Gillett first had the notion that he might have an ear for discovering music in 1962, when he became a Bob Dylan fanatic after hearing a track in a record store in the US "months, at least, before anyone back home". His Masters thesis for Colombia University, a history of popular music, was published to acclaim as a book, The Sound Of The City, in 1970 and is still in print.

He began his first weekly radio programme, Honky Tonk, in 1972 on Radio London, where he stayed till 1978. While punk didn't much interest him - "the rhythms were too boring" - he did discover numerous artists, including Dire Straits. "I played the demo of Sultans Of Swing and seven record companies had rung before the end of the programme." Other acts he brought to public notice included Ian Dury, who he managed for a while, Graham Parker and Elvis Costello ("the only one who rang in to thank you for playing his demo").

He joined Capital Radio in 1980 but "left before I was pushed" in 1983. Listeners complained, and he was offered another show. "I told the radio station I was getting a lot of response to what I called at the time 'tropical' records" and he began A Foreign Affair, the first world-music radio programme.

"I knew from experience that not only would there be an audience, but they would put me right if I made mistakes, and introduce me to music I didn't know about." He was the first British DJ to play Youssou N'Dour and Salif Keita.

The conservative nature of British radio disappoints him. "If you think of how other aspects of life have changed - the number of foreign players in the Premiership, the diverse range of global restaurants in the high streets - radio here is pretty xenophobic." He is puzzled that multi-million selling artists such as Spain's Manu Chao or Cesaria Evora from Cape Verde are so rarely played on Radio 1 or 2.

Gillett makes no claims to musical infallibility - he saw one of the first Velvet Underground gigs and "didn't understand them", and he has of a blind spot for Brazilian music: "a lot of it is a bit too much like lounge music for me." But he follows his enthusiasms wherever they lead "regardless of what is deemed hip or fashionable".

A bout of illness caused him to resign last year from his popular BBC Radio London show - he hopes to "come back with something maybe next year" - but the internet means his World Service show is more heard than ever, and his website has an impressively lively forum.

With the demise of John Peel ("I didn't like most of what he played - but he was great to listen to anyway"), Gillett must be the most universally admired veteran broadcaster in the land - and his enthusiasm remains infectious. I saw him as the sun went down on the last night of Womad listening to the Portguese fado singer Mariza, who he, of course, has helped immeasurably.

"Where does she get that amazing voice from?" he asked, thrilled by yet another great global singer.

Interview by Peter Culshaw ( 02/08/2007

Peter Gabriel Named as BMI Icon, Joining Paul Simon, Ray Davies

Peter Gabriel is to be honored as an Icon by Broadcast Music Inc., the U.S. performing rights organization announced today. The U.K. singer-songwriter, 57, who founded the rock band Genesis in 1967 and left for a solo career in 1975, will receive the award on Oct. 16 in London, BMI said in an e-mailed release. "Gabriel's achievements, whether musical, visual or humanitarian, are the work of a true visionary,'' BMI said.

Singer Peter Gabriel poses in New York on Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2006.
Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg News.

The BMI Icon award is given to songwriters who have had "a unique and indelible influence on generations of music makers.'' Previous winners include Ray Davies, Van Morrison, the Bee Gees, Isaac Hayes, Dolly Parton, James Brown and Paul Simon.

Gabriel's Grammy Award-winning solo career includes songs such as "Solsbury Hill'' and "Sledgehammer.'' He also has composed soundtracks for films, including Martin Scorsese's "The Last Temptation of Christ'' (1988) and is the founder of the Womad (World of Music, Arts and Dance) movement.

BMI, a not-for-profit entity, collects and distributes to its member songwriters, composers and music publishers money for public performance of music in the U.S., including on the radio, TV and Internet.

By Mark Beech (Bloomberg)

Jimi Mbaye - Habib Faye : Le Super Etoile se cherche au plan international

Des regards que les mélomanes portent sur le Super Etoile, il ressort que Jimi Mbaye et Habib Faye demeurent des éléments essentiels de la formation musicale de Youssou Ndour. Mais ce qui fait la force de ce groupe, fort de plus de vingt-cinq ans de compagnonnage, soutiennent les deux guitaristes, est que chaque musicien peut représenter à lui tout seul le groupe. Dans l’entretien qui suit, Jimi Mbaye et Habib Faye reviennent sur l’évolution musicale du Super Etoile, sur fond d’analyse du nouvel album Alsaama Day, sorti en avril 2007, sur le vécu artistique du groupe, ses hauts et ses bas.

Alsaama Day dans l’évolution du Super Etoile

Jimi MBAYE : C’est juste une nouvelle cassette qui est venue, et qui marche très fort. Musicalement, c’est vraiment bien. Je ne pense pas que Alsaama Day puisse apporter au Super Etoile ce qu’il n’a pas encore eu. Je ne pense pas également qu’il y ait eu de rupture. A mon avis, c’est une continuité par rapport à ce que nous avons toujours fait. Parce qu’à chaque fois que tu fais une rupture, en général, le premier produit de cette rupture n’est pas bien accepté par le public. Donc, si c’était vraiment une rupture comme vous l’imaginez, le public n’aurait pas suivi. Il aurait peut-être attendu la deuxième ou la troisième cassette pour comprendre réellement ce qu’il y a lieu de faire avant d’intégrer la nouvelle donne. Il faut reconnaître que les mélomanes ont toujours eu du mal à accepter totalement un produit du Super Etoile dès sa sortie. A chaque fois que nous sortons une nouvelle une cassette, on attend toujours un mélomane dire : ‘Je ne sais pas ce qu’ils ont essayé de jouer…’. Et une semaine après, on entend dire : ‘Je ne sais pas l’orientation qu’ils ont voulu donner à l’album, mais j’aime le troisième, le quatrième ou tel autre morceau’. Et après deux semaines, c’est l’adoption totale. Il arrive même que certains passent aux aveux pour dire : ‘Boy, cette cassette, elle est extraordinaire. Tu as entendu tel ou tel titre ?’. Pour en revenir à l’album Alsaama Day, je trouve que c’est un Super Etoile encore beaucoup plus jeune qui est venu avec toute une fougue. Et je trouve que c’est un très bon album.

Habib FAYE : Aujourd’hui, la musique est surtout axée sur la danse, c’est ce qui est la mode. Donc Alsaama Day a suivi la tendance. Et je pense que s’il y a eu une innovation dans cet album, ce n’est pas du côté musical. Dans la réalisation de cet album, c’est l’attente des mélomanes qui a été plus prise en compte. C’était une priorité par rapport à la création. Je vais vous le dire : je ne suis pas à la base de la conception de Alsaama Day. Je suis plutôt intervenu dans l’exécution. Le concept de Alsaama Day a été mené de bout à bout par Youssou Ndour, contrairement à ce qu’on faisait avant. Cette fois-ci, c’est son concept, ses idées qu’il a essayé de réaliser avec son frère Ibou et les autres. Pour en revenir à l’exécution, elle consiste à interpréter les idées de Youssou. C’est vous dire que je n’ai pas participé à la création artistique de Alsaama Day. Je pense que le Super Etoile, c’est d’abord Youssou. C’est son groupe, donc ce sont ses idées et sa philosophie. Il lui arrive de faire des projets avec ou sans le Super Etoile. Comme il m’arrive aussi de faire des choses avec Angélique Kidjo, Peter Gabriel entre autres musiciens du monde. Je n’y vois pas de problème. Alsaama Day est certes un album 100 % Super Etoile. Mais c’est très différent des autres albums. Je ne pense pas que cela soit lié aux réalités du showbiz d’autant plus que c’est nous qui l’avons exécuté.

Un nouveau défi musical...

Source: Walf-Fadjri, Propos recueillis par Yacine CISSE, Abdou Rahmane MBENGUE et Mbagnick NGOM

20 août 2007

Independent Sector to Present WITNESS with the Leadership IS Award

Independent Sector will honor WITNESS, an international human rights organization, with the 2007 American Express Building Leadership Award for promoting leadership in other organizations and for building leaders from within. The award will be presented to the organization with a plaque and a gift of $10,000 at the Independent Sector Annual Conference in Los Angeles from October 21 to 23, 2007.

Founded in 1992 by musician and activist Peter Gabriel, the Reebok Human Rights Foundation and Human Rights First (formerly the Lawyer’s Committee for Human Rights), WITNESS trains organizations to use video and online technologies to increase awareness of human rights violations. In doing so, the organization empowers groups within the global human rights community to transform personal stories of abuse into powerful tools for justice and policy change. Through its Core Partners program, WITNESS provides hands-on video training for grassroots organizations in the United States and around the world that advocate for political, social, and economic rights to help them become more effective advocates for their respective causes.

In California, the State Senate Majority Leader introduced sweeping legislation to overhaul the State’s juvenile prison system five days after the screening of “System Failure,” a film by partner Books Not Bars, which revealed rampant abuses in the system. In the Casamance region of Senegal, the Minister of Women’s and Family Affairs pledged unprecedented funding for women landmine victims following the release of a video by WITNESS partner, the African Assembly for the Defense of Human Rights, which exposed the devastating effects of these weapons of war.

From 2002 to 2006, WITNESS worked with Burma Issues, a human rights organization, to document the systematic repression of civilians by Burma's military government, and to place that footage in front of activists and government officials worldwide. The rising profile of this crisis helped lead to the introduction of a first-ever resolution at the UN Security Council on Burma, as well as significant increases in funding for displaced civilians.

“We applaud WITNESS for its commitment to building the capacity of locally based organizations that work to galvanize public support for human rights reforms in this country and abroad,” said Diana Aviv, president and CEO of Independent Sector. “WITNESS embodies the ideals of this award by helping other organizations become leaders and by developing policies and practices that promote leadership within the organization.”

Internally, WITNESS is committed to fostering an open work environment and has implemented several policies to encourage staff to take on leadership roles, advance within the organization and participate in professional development opportunities. To ensure maximum impact for its work, the organization developed a process called “5 Key Results Areas,” which enables staff to stay tightly focused on measurable results and regularly assess progress. Driven by the strong belief that each staff member has innate leadership potential, it has also committed to sending staff to the Rockwood Leadership program.

WITNESS is honored to be recognized with the 2007 American Express Building Leadership Award for our commitment to training our partner organizations to turn video testimony and images into powerful human stories that make a difference,” said Gillian Gladwell, executive director of WITNESS. “We have worked with hundreds of organizations, advocates and media-makers to give them the tools they need to drive their own advocacy, and with the launch of our newest initiative, The Hub (, in Fall 2007, we hope to inspire thousands more people around the world to use video as a tool for activism and policy change. We are also very committed to developing leadership within the organization.”

The American Express Building Leadership Award, formally known as the Leadership IS Award, is sponsored by the American Express Foundation. The award was established in 1999 to recognize the importance of investing in the people of the nonprofit community by celebrating an organization that embodies this principle in spirit and practice.

For more information about the American Express Building Leadership Award, please visit the IS web site.

Genesis’ Peter Gabriel To Be Honoured As Icon At awards ceremony…

Genesis co-founder Peter Gabriel is to be honoured as a BMI Icon at an awards ceremony in London in October. Gabriel will receive the awards at the US right organisation’s annual UK awards ceremony at London’s Dorchester Hotel.

Gabriel will join the likes of Ray Davies and the Bee Gees who have had their music recognized by the BMI – a US performing right organisation who collect and distribute monies for an artist’s public performances on US TV and radio.

As well as co-founding Genesis, Gabriel has released eleven solo albums and composed soundtracks for films, such as, Martin Scorsese’s ‘The Last Temptation of Christ,’ during his expansive career.

The BMI are also recognizing Gabriel’s humanitarian work with the award – which includes founding the world human rights advocacy supergroup in July this year, alongside Nelson Mandela and Richard Branson.

The Filter élargira ses recommandations de la musique à la vidéo

The Filter, le site de recommandations musicales soutenu par Peter Gabriel, a réussi à lever 5 millions de dollars de fonds dans un second tour de table. Le premier, de 1,8 millions avait déjà permis au logiciel de s'intégrer à Facebook, en offrant aux utilisateurs la possibilité de partager leurs préférences musicales sur le site communautaire.

Cette nouvelle injection, financée par l'artiste et Eden Ventures, devrait maintenant pousser The Filter élargir son champ pour passer de la musique à la vidéo. "La première vague de la révolution numérique misait sur la liberté de choix, en essayant de rendre tout accessible à n'importe qui" analyse Peter Gabriel. "Je pense que la seconde portera sur la liberté à partir du choix. Elle offrira à The Filter la possibilité de vous donner plus de ce que vous voulez."

Son principal rival reste, qui emporte un vif succès auprès des internautes, mais The Filter pourrait passer par un champ plus élargi pour se différencier, de la vidéo à d'autres domaines inhabituels comme les objets de marque ou même les bouteilles de vin.

Rappelons que Peter Gabriel a toujours été précurseur dans le domaine de la musique numérique. C'est lui qui fut notamment à la base du premier service de téléchargement à la demande, la plateforme OD2 utilisée maintenant par Microsoft. Seulement, le fondateur de Genesis s'aventure cette fois ci en terrain déjà occupé. Visionnaire ou opportuniste ? L'avenir nous le dira.

Peter Gabriel leads $5m cash injection into music website

Peter Gabriel has led a $5m (£2.5m) investment in the music recommendation technology company The Filter to help develop its expansion into new areas such as digital video and film content.

The Filter is a free download that recommends new music and builds play-lists from a user's existing digital music library. Users can enter an artist like Johnny Cash into the engine and the engine will suggest a variety of artists that the listener might like. The service, which can identify around 5 million songs, was developed by the Bath-based Exabre. It has attracted 150,000 users and is adding a further 25,000 a month.

However, Mr Gabriel argues music recommendations are only the tip of the iceberg as the swaths of digital content available online mean that The Filter's software could be used for recommending everything from television shows to bottles of wine and fashion items.

"The first wave of the digital revolution was about the freedom of choice, trying to make everything accessible to anyone, any place, any time. I think the second wave will be about freedom from choice. It will be able to filter and focus so that you get more of what you want," Mr Gabriel said.

He conceded not everyone would want a piece of software recommending what music they listen to or what films they watch, but said, given the amount of digital content online is growing exponentially, many consumers will want to be guided toward content relevant to their interest and tastes.

The investment in Exabre was led by Mr Gabriel alongside technology investors Eden Ventures, and follows an initial $1.8m round of investment by the two parties and The Filter's two founding members Rhett Ryder and Martin Hopkins. The new funds will be used to develop The Filter's technology around television and film content with a view to launching a wider recommendation service next year. "Our new round of investment from Peter and Eden will help us take our recommendation engine to the next level," the company said.

A slew of new technology companies has emerged around the area of recommending digital content, paralleling the rise of social networking sites like MySpace and Bebo where users upload their own content on to the web. Most notable have been Last.FM, the British recommendation site that was snapped up by CBS earlier this year, and Pandora, the popular online radio company.

Mr Gabriel, the former Genesis frontman who went on to have success in the 1980s with songs such asGames Without Frontiers, is a pioneer in digital music technology investment. He developed one of the first consumer music technology products - the Xplora and Eve CDRoms - in the 1990s and went on to found On Demand Distribution, or OD2, one of the first music download services, which is used by Microsoft's MSN portal.

By Nic Fildes, Published: 20 August 2007