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13 décembre 2007

Youssou N'Dour by Peter Gabriel

It was dark in that tent in Paris and so hot that condensation dripped from the canvas. Then, cutting through everything, came a voice of liquid gold.

I had gone to see if Youssou N'Dour would be a good artist for WOMAD, the festival of world music, arts and dance we were launching. Back then, in the early '80s, Youssou's music was really known only to fellow Senegalese. I was totally blown away. I loved the grooves, the emotion and the melodies—but most of all, that voice, a passionate instrument.

Soon afterward I traveled to Senegal to see Youssou perform at his old club next to the fish market. This was the beginning of a long musical relationship and a close friendship. I offered him the support slot on two tours, and every time he went out on the stage, it was like the sun breaking through the clouds.

I've watched Youssou, 47, grow effortlessly, as more and more demands are made on him, into a major African leader, pioneering campaigns to improve the spread of technology, working to combat malaria and being involved, too, with Unicef. He is a source of inspiration to me not just as a musician but as a person.

Gabriel, a singer and activist, has won four Grammy Awards

11 décembre 2007

World Music Superstar Angelique Kidjo Receive Grammy Nominations

(...) Produced by the legendary Tony Visconti, DJIN DJIN finds the Benin-born Angelique Kidjo partnering with such luminaries as Josh Groban, Alicia Keys, Peter Gabriel, Carlos Santana, Joss Stone, Branford Marsalis and Ziggy Marley to create an album which is truly global in scope. The album has received an abundance of critical praise.

The Associated Press stated, "Musical collaborations based on mutual respect can elevate both performer's artistry. Angelique Kidjo packs DJIN DJIN with just these kinds of duets from artists in three words, lush, dense and beautiful", while USA Today said, "the Benin-born singer delivers a thoroughly engaging collection of songs she spans musical cultures with her mesmerizing vocals Kidjo seizes your attention and then keeps you riveted." This year alone, Kidjo has appeared on The Tonight Show, The Late Show With David Letterman and The CBS Saturday Early Show.

Audio-Technica Announces Three Year Sponsorship of International Guitar Foundation

Audio-Technica Ltd and the International Guitar Foundation have announced that the world leading microphone manufacturer will become ‘exclusive microphone partner’ to the IGF. The three-year sponsorship agreement sees the company committed to supporting the IGF’s programme of festivals, Summer Schools, Guitar Camps, and Teacher Training Centres.

A not-for-profit organization, the IGF has promoted performance, learning and teaching of the guitar, in all of its forms and musical genre, among people of all ages, for more than 14 years. From classical, folk, flamenco and all forms of world music, to jazz, blues, r’n’b, rock and other contemporary playing styles, the IGF has “nurtured and celebrated the varied pleasures of this beautiful and multi-faceted instrument with unparalleled dedication”.

Whether promoting concerts by major artists at prestigious venues like the Royal Festival Hall, or recital tours of schools and youth clubs, commissioning compositions, running educational programmes, workshops and seminars, and teaching guitar in schools throughout the country, the work of the IGF has the singular goal of celebrating the unique place of the guitar in popular culture. With the world’s most comprehensive range of instrument and vocal microphones, Audio-Technica is uniquely placed to support such an extensive calendar of diverse events.

The schedule includes the internationally renowned Bath International Guitar Festival, featuring a two week programme of 14 concerts, the London Guitar Festival, including concerts at the Royal Festival Hall and Queen Elizabeth Hall, and the three day International Guitar Festival at Gateshead’s prestigious Sage arts centre. The Summer Schools’ programme includes those held in conjunction with the Bath, London, and Gateshead festivals, and events at Cardiff’s Millennium Centre, and during the WOMAD festival, held in association with Peter Gabriel’s Real World Studios.

IGF general manager, Phil Castang stated: “We are delighted to have the support of Audio-Technica, a company with a longstanding tradition of excellence and innovation. Whether presenting leading international rock bands or emerging young acoustic artists, the support from Audio-Technica will be invaluable in raising the quality of IGF events, and in providing greater resources for our tuition programmes.“

Commenting for Audio-Technica, senior UK marketing manager, Harvey Roberts, added: “The work of the IGF in promoting the learning and teaching of the guitar is unique, in promoting the instrument in all forms of music to children and adults of all ages. We are especially pleased to support the educational work of the IGF. There is much to teach guitar players of all persuasions about the role of microphones and importance of microphone technique. We are looking to bring our knowledge and skills in those subjects to the IGF curriculum. As a microphone company historically we have major strengths in the instrument sector; particularly with the 40 Series for recording and Artist Series and Artist Elite models for stage work. Recently jazz guitarist Branco Stoysin has chosen to record exclusively with the AT4040 and singer songwriter Jodie Jones exclusively picked the Artist Series ATM710 condenser as her vocal and acoustic guitar mic, both for recording and live performance.“

10 décembre 2007

Animated causes -- WITH VIDEOS

In between corporate video production jobs, Mark Greene of Kingston has been producing online videos so popularly infectious that some called them "viral." The artist's most-mainstream proof of effectiveness is evident on his home-office desktop which sports an Emmy statuette. "It lives on the piano," Greene said of the 2007 National Public Service Announcement/Broadband Emmy he received for his 90-second short "Big Fun with Global Warming," below.

"Big Fun with Global Warming"

Greene sees the impact of the video - designed to encourage people to stop wasting energy - as a sign that individual opinions matter. Despite the damping effect of mass media and big business, solitary human beings can influence many, he said. He encouraged others to use YouTube and other video venues to add their voices to the online fray. Greene employed his voice and imagination with some global warming facts he wanted to tell people about without hitting them over their heads.

Keep in mind, the plot of his video threatens to hit his main character, Stinky, over the head with grand pianos to illustrate how much carbon pollution is produced by the average individual - five tons per year - he wanted to do it with a positive sense of humor. Five tons is the equivalent of 10 Steinway Grand pianos. This piece, later licensed for use by the Sierra Club, was part of a cartoon collaborative effort that had already been established. Later, changed its name to Climate Cartoons and embraced the slogan "Saving the planet one cartoon at a time."

With the ease of a geek who is comfortable in his own skin, Greene downplayed concerns about the expenses of the machinery required to produce good videos. While Greene uses a pricey program called Final Cut, he said the easier-to-use I-movie editing software is cheaper and can transform even videos recorded on inexpensive video cameras into fairly slick mini-films. In addition to Final Cut, he used Flash and Photoshop programs for his animation work.

Greene observes Climate Cartoons policy against political wrangling, in his work for them. While his biggest Stinky cartoons inveigle against huge sports utility vehicles and the oppressive gas pumps that rule many American's lives, it doesn't get into any of the predictable cuts against the Bush Administration' policies on energy efficiencies. "You have to convince individual human beings to change their behavior," Greene said. "George Bush is only one man." Not that Greene is against an occasional pointed partisan pokes at people who he sees as offensive. See exhibit II, below, a video featuring Greene's own wife, Sharron Bower, as she tweaks popular Republican target Katherine Harris.

During the 2006 election, Greene employed his wife Bower and a group of their friends and professional acquaintances to produce a spoof on what Katherine Harris might be like, behind the scenes of her own play to get elected to represent Florida in the United States Senate. The result, which only pulls its punches on the lack of garishness of Bower-come-Harris' lipstick, garnered 75,000 viewings in the weeks before Harris last ill-fated election. Although much of the material was tongue-in-cheek and informed by his own behind-the scenes experience in Texas politics, Greene said it struck true with some who were close to the Harris campaign.

Greene said after the election he received emails from ex-Harris staffers who asked him: "Who is your inside contact?" Sharron Bower laughed when asked about the impact of the video on her own life. An actor who is more often recognized for playing prostitutes on Law and Order than for playing Harris, Bower said reconstituting the former Secretary of State for Florida wasn't a challenge. She did wish she had employed more bust enhancement prior to filming, and had applied more substantial lipstick, she said. "I couldn't get enough on there."

Bower said she enjoyed going to the New York City Emmy awards ceremony with her husband, especially when they got a chance to meet other award winners. The most impressive, were organizers from who have distributed video cameras to war torn areas of the world to document human rights abuses. Founded by Peter Gabriel, distributes video cameras to activists in 70 countries who visually document social, political and environmental problems and broadcast those stories via the Internet. Greene said it was humbling to be around such activists at the ceremony.

The power of video to raise awareness - for good and ill - should come as no surprise to anyone who followed the aftermath of the Rodney King beating, he said. And what about the demise of former Virginia Senator George Allen, who had used the word "Macaca" in anger "while a camera was pointed at him," Greene said. Although the plaudits that came during the Emmy proceedings of Nov. 9, the aftermath is nothing compared to that of the more-widely viewed prime-time Emmys. Certainly, Greene did not come away from the event with much in the way of "swag," what the Glitterati call the ostentatious gifts they often receive after awards ceremonies. "There was no swag," Greene said. "I got a plaque and a statue, and that was it."

And even though there is no current count on how many times the Stinky videos have been viewed, activists are looking for more ways to get more "eyeballs" on Greene's environmental themes. According to Pam Kerwin, the executive director of Climate Cartoons, Greene's videos may get additional play if her organization succeeds in getting the videos picked up by movie theaters, as pre-movie spots, and by airlines as in-flight movie selections. Kerwin acknowledged the anti-pollution message could be a challenge for the air carriers, considering the amount of fuel they go through annually. "We have to be careful," she said. "...It's a tough subject for airlines."

©Daily Freeman 2007

Tuned In to Paula Cole

December 8, 2007 -- After retreating from the limelight seven years ago, Paula Cole has reemerged with a new view on her career and her life.

Paula was riding a strong wave of success before taking leave from her career. She started her career as a backup singer for Peter Gabriel. Then, with the release of her sophomore album This Fire in 1996, Cole scored a big break when her song "I don't want to wait" was picked up as the title song of the hit series Dawson's Creek. Another sensational single off of This Fire was "Where have all the cowboys gone?", and in 1997 Paula won the Grammy for Best Artist of the Year.

Things seemed to be getting exponentially better for Cole's career. But despite her achievements Paula felt trapped by the industry. So she left New York for a home in Los Angeles, and conceived a daughter. Consumed with the responsibilities of motherhood, Paula took the next several years to search her soul for the right path. Then everything came back together.

Paula yearned to sing again, and with the help of her long-time friend and producer Bobby Colomby, she released the appropriately named album Courage in 2007. Paula recently performed at the Keswick Theatre in Glenside, Pennsylvania. We spoke to her backstage before the show, where she discussed the metamorphosis of her career and the significance of her newly released album. Check out excerpts from the interview as well as performance video in our media carousel at the top of the page. Now YOU are Tuned In to Paula Cole!

On the Net:

Dead Can Dub

Gaudi + Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan Dub Qawwali (Six Degrees 657036 1137-2, 2007)

Pakistan's late Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan may have specialized in the ecstasy-inducing Sufi devotional style known as qawwali, but he had one of those incredible voices that also gave a supernatural lift to movie soundtracks, such albums as his classic Mustt Mustt and his collaborations with Peter Gabriel, Michael Brook and Eddie Vedder. There's no telling what sort of further heights he might have scaled if not for his 1997 death. Still, his legacy as a master of music and messenger of peace and love is assured.

When I first heard that an album of '60s and '70s Khan vocal tracks set to dub reggae rhythms was being released, I figured the results would be pretty good at least. But oh my, was I totally unprepared for how thoroughly this disc kept me entranced. London-based producer/composer/musician Gaudi (a new name to me, I must confess) gained access to rare and unreleased vocals recorded when Khan was still largely a Pakistani sensation, and the ethereal, echoing dub arrangements he's crafted around them are both seamless and flawless.

The vocals fit the musical backing so snugly you'd swear that a resurrected Khan walked into the studio and laid it all down in person. A blend of real and programmed sounds pulses away, with a bass and drums framework as solid as any in reggae supporting heavenly strings, accented off beats (naturally), rich techno swells and melodic hooks that beautify Khan's celestial singing even more.

Dub Qawwali is a brilliantly realized combination of east and west, of spiritually-rooted musical genres in perfect unity and of an idea brought to perfectly fitting reality. If only all world music fusions worked this well. One of 2007's best, to be sure.

Anyone for tennis with Tony?

Now he has got more time on his hands, Tony Blair's thoughts have turned towards keeping fit and pursuing his favourite hobby - tennis.

With the splendid grass court at Chequers no more at his disposal, he has set his sights on joining one of London's most exclusive clubs - Campden Hill Lawn Tennis in Kensington - which has both outdoor and indoor winter courts.

It is also not much more than a ten-minute drive by armour-plated car from Blair's new house near Marble Arch. Alas, not everyone at the snooty club, where figures such as Mervyn King, Governor of the Bank of England, and author Sebastian Faulks play, is thrilled by the idea of the former Prime Minister making small talk in the members' bar.

"There's a waiting list for membership, which is closed, and there's a two-year wait for those on it," blusters a member. "Why should Blair leapfrog all those people? Apart from anything else, what about the disruption of his bodyguards hanging around - presumably making security checks on other members - while their boss is on court."

According to members, who pay £1,000 for entry as well as an annual fee of £650, Blair has "let it be known" that he wants to join. His son Euan is a regular, courtesy of his girlfriend Suzanne Ashman, 19, who lives nearby and is a member.

"Word has filtered out that he would like to be considered," one member tells me. "People do resent the idea of queue-jumping, but probably Blair's ability as a tennis player will decide if he gets in. Usually, good players can get in after six months but average ones can be on the waiting list for years. I’ve heard Blair is not that good."

Campden Hill is one of the finest private clubs in the capital. Rebuilt five years ago, it has six artificial grass outdoor courts, four of them floodlit, plus six indoor courts, a bar and a restaurant. Club secretary Paul Holloway denies Blair has applied to join. Says another member: "It has become the talk of the club. The committee will probably allow him to jump the queue."

Singer Peter Gabriel, the founder of Genesis, was not so fortunate. He was given only a midweek membership, which prohibits play after 6pm or at weekends.

Richard Kay

Concert « 46664 » pour la lutte contre le sida

Avec ses 5,5 millions de séropositifs, sur 48 millions d’habitants, l’Afrique du Sud est de nos jours l’un des pays le plus touché par l’épidémie du SIDA.

Samedi 1er Décembre, à l’occasion de la journée mondiale de la lutte contre le SIDA, le stade Ellis Park de Johannesburg accueillait plus de 15 000 spectateurs venus assister à un concert.

Ce cinquième concert de la campagne surnommée « 46664 » en référence au matricule donné par les autorités pénitentiaires à Nelson Mandela sous l’apartheid a été organisé à l’initiative de cet ex-leader de l’ANC. Il était destiné à une collecte de fonds ainsi qu’à la sensibilisation du public sur la problématique du SIDA. Les concerts précédant s’étaient déroulés dans d’autres villes du pays mais également en Espagne et en Norvège.

Le thème de la campagne : « ton sort est entre tes mains » était illustré par un discours de Mandela ainsi que par la projection d’une vidéo retraçant son parcours : jeune avocat, combattant de la liberté, prisonnier, puis premier président démocratique de l’Afrique du Sud.

Nelson Mandela a déclaré au public que « si nous voulions arrêter le processus de développement du SIDA, nous devions rompre le cycle de nouvelles infections » et ce grâce a de simples comportements, « ce qui importe vraiment, ce sont les petits gestes de gentillesse…tel que se protéger ».

Bien que les taux de contamination aient diminués en 2007, « pour chaque personne recevant un traitement, quatre autres sont touchées à nouveau » a affirmé l’ancien président Sud Africain.

Un spectateur a déclaré « il te suffit de donner un petit peu, cela peut signifier beaucoup pour d’autres ». Une jeune femme venue assister au concert a ajouté « Nous sommes là pour la cause. Nous sommes là pour la musique et pour nous rassembler autour de quelque chose qui nous est cher. »

Des artistes de renommée internationale figuraient parmi la trentaine de musiciens. On peut citer Annie Lennox, Johnny Clegg ou encore Peter Gabriel qui a interprété « Biko » au nom de l’activiste sud-africain mort en détention en 1977.

La campagne a rapporté plus de 20 millions de rands ( soit plus de 2 millions d’euros ).

La prochaine édition d’un concert « 46664 » est prévu à Londres le 27 Juin 2008 afin de célébrer le 90ème anniversaire de Nelson Mandela.

Lina / South African News by Lycée Paul Lapie


09 décembre 2007

New exhibition celebrates struggle hero Biko

The exhibition runs until June 2008. More info: Tel: 011 309 4700 or

Holding the reigns of the ox-wagon that is pulling his father's coffin, Nkosinathi Biko sits alone and solemnly among the masses of people. Surrounded by a throng of supporters, angry and tearful, he cuts a figure of solitude. A hero of the apartheid struggle is dead.

Bantu Stephen Biko died on September 11 1977, but lives on through the work of the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg.

The museum opened in 2001 and deals with 20th-century South Africa, at the heart of which is the story of apartheid. With its flowing corridors and unique architectural design, it is home to about 22 exhibition areas, one of which displays the new Steve Biko exhibition.

The exhibition will run until June. Funded by the Department of Education and the Steve Biko Foundation, it is part of a larger display installed at the department's Pretoria offices.

"Many of the youth see Biko as an iconic figure. You'll find his face on their T-shirts and so on, but they really do not know what it means. They do not see the dynamics of who Biko really was," says museum director Christopher Till. "We need to show the man behind the icon."

The exhibition deals with the broader intellectual tradition that shaped Biko, as well as Biko's life and his legacy, says Emilia Potenza, the museum's education and exhibitions consultant.

Hanging from the ceiling are 53 panels with words and photographs depicting Biko's life on red, black and white backgrounds. Scattered among them are suspended flat screens on which video clips play: one is the National Party's denial of beating Biko and the last shows Peter Gabriel performing his hit song Biko, yet the clip that stands out shows the young Nkosinathi Biko among the throng of mourners at his father's funeral.

Malcolm X, pictured on one of the exhibition panels, was among the intellectuals who shaped Biko and so helped establish the anti-apartheid Black Consciousness Movement, which started to develop in the late 1960s. This part of the exhibition is seen "to locate Biko within the broader African intellectual tradition and to show the early resistance movement" of which Biko became a part, says Potenza.

Biko's student years saw him becoming more active in opposing the apartheid government. From being kicked out of school for his political sentiments -- having to complete his matric in KwaZulu-Natal because a Catholic missionary school in Mariannhill was the only place that would take him in -- to becoming a student leader while studying medicine at the University of Natal in Durban, his life was filled with the "philosophy of black consciousness".

"Black man! You are on your own," reads Biko's words on one of the exhibition panels. "Biko's philosophy triumphed across the world and beyond the colour of one's skin, making him a powerful icon," says Potenza.

Nkosinathi Biko says the exhibition is a good foundation for a larger one. As head of the Steve Biko Foundation, he hopes that a more complete display will in future be established in his father's home town of King William's Town, where a heritage and leadership centre is to be developed.

"There were many dimensions to my father. You will find the family dimension, which is reflected in this exhibit, and the political dimension. The dimension of him as a community developer needs to be better reflected in the future," he says, adding that he admires the fact that his father had "accomplished so much" by the time he died in detention at the age of 30.

Apartheid claimed many victims in South Africa's prisons, not just Biko. Says Potenza: "That's why we added the bit right at the end; it's a video of those who died [in prisons] and their families at funerals; not all as we could not get footage of all."

Many people still treasure Biko and his legacy. At the end of the exhibit, quotes can be read by luminaries such as Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu -- and by students who attended the commemoration of the 30th anniversary of Biko's death at the museum three months ago.

Advocate George Bizos's words stand out on one of the panels: "The amnesty hearings revealed that the trouble started ... because he [Biko] insisted on sitting on a chair."
Says Potenza: "Biko was beaten and tortured because he wanted to be treated as a human being."

Zahira Kharsany | Johannesburg, South Africa

Bringing to the table

The world can Rokku mi rokka with Youssou N'Dour

African superstar Youssou N'Dour's new album is called Rokku mi rokka - Wolof for "Give and take" - but that's not what Youssou had in mind when he told off Sir Bob Geldof before appearing at London's Live 8 concert back in 2005.

There was a distinct lack of African musicians at all the Live 8 concerts - so called since they were held in G8 nations to raise awareness of Third World debt - but Youssou was the only African to perform in London.

So, at the last minute, Peter Gabriel organized a simultaneous concert in Johannesburg hosted by N'Dour.

"The Live 8 concerts directly affected Africans, so we should also have been included," N'Dour told Hour this week. "I discussed it with Geldof and the [other] organizers so that this will not happen again."

African musicians are used to being treated as a mere afterthought by the West. Like Angélique Kidjo once told me about her chastising a journalist from the French daily newspaper Libération: "[That journalist's] fantasy of African women has taken a huge toll on my career. I do not want to be seen as a colonized person."

N'Dour agrees. "It is true that African audiences want to listen to modern instruments and the rest of the world wishes to listen to Africans play traditional instruments. It's a contradiction. But Westerners have a certain ideal of what they want Africans to be. So I have different versions of thesame songs."

In other words, there is an African version and one for the rest of the world. Which is why N'Dour's new album is called Rokku mi rokka. "We have received a lot from the developed world. But remember that we brought a lot too."

Youssou N'Dour and Le Super Etoile de Dakar
At the Théâtre Olympia (1004 Ste-Catherine E.), Dec. 11

Bugs Burnett