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17 octobre 2008

Her eccentric Highness

Kenny Chee, Asia One, Tue, Oct 14, 2008

Chinese artiste Sa Ding Ding is poised to crack the Western market

By her own admission, Mongolian-born Chinese singer Sa Ding Ding can come across as a tad eccentric. "Even I think I'm a bit strange," the singer, who was born in Mongolia, told my paper. "That's because I tend to be very focused when I'm doing something and I'm apt to forget what's happening around me." To that end, she has shown up at recording sessions dressed in winter clothes in summer, oblivious to the fact until someone pointed it out.

Sa - who was in town recently to perform at the Esplanade Outdoor Theatre as part of the Formula One Singapore Grand Prix's entertainment programme - has been billed by some as Asia's answer to Icelandic singer Bjork. Sa fuses electronica with Chinese folk music, and this melange is topped by her warbly vocals.

She is also inspired by ancient Chinese texts such as the Materia Medica, a Ming Dynasty encyclopaedia of Chinese herbs written by naturalist Li Shizhen. She sings in Mandarin, Tibetan and Sanskrit, as well as a self-created language. Born to a Mongolian doctor mother and a Chinese government- official father, Sa was raised by her grandmother in the grasslands of northern China.

Her upbringing influenced her ear for ethnic music, and Sa later moved to Beijing to study philosophy and music at the Central Conservatory of Music. She released a debut album in 2001, followed by her sophomore release, Alive, last year. It caught the ears of the Western media, winning the British Broadcasting Corporation Radio 3 World Music Award for the Asia-Pacific region in April.

That win led to Sa performing at London's Royal Albert Hall and the World of Music, Arts and Dance (Womad) festival, where she enjoyed four encores. After her performance, she was approached backstage by many who told her that she "completed (their) music experiences", she said.

"I was incredibly moved; I treasure that much more than fame or fortune," she added. And what did she think of the world's first night race, which she was here to support? "I've watched F1 races on television, but this is the first time I've seen it so up-close and it's very exciting," she enthused. "I sometimes ask why the cars need to be so fast. But maybe I ask that because I'm a girl."

Foreign cinema spotlight: I Bring What I Love

By: Madeleine Wall, Posted: 10/16/08

Youssou Ndour: I Bring What I Love chronicles the life of Senegal's greatest musical export, Youssou Ndour. Documenting his early life and then focusing on the controversy that surrounded his Grammy- winning Egypt album, the film shows Ndour for what he is: a man combining his heritage and tradition in a way that has rarely been done before.

The film begins with Ndour's early life, growing up in Senegal a Sufi Muslim, but learning about the traditions of the Griot, the African singer-storyteller. Ndour combined his Griot heritage with his music, and soon became a household name in Senegal. It was a duet with Peter Gabriel and a performance at the Live 8 concert, a long with the song "7 Seconds," Senegal's first platinum record, which made him known around the world. With his success he soon turned to social activism, a powerful African voice raising awareness and funds to various issues in Africa. But the film's focus is on the early 2000s when Ndour decided to make his Egypt album.

Ndour attempted to show the world what Islam meant to him through this album, chronicling the story of the great Muslim leaders of Senegal. The film explores the various influences of Ndour such as Egyptian singer Umm Kulthum, the pacifist Muslim leader Cheikh Amadou Bamba and Senegal's holy city of Touba, each of which have an important impact on the album, Ndour, and the life of a Senegalese Sufi Muslim. The album was initially met with disdain from with Senegalese, who believed it was blasphemy and refused to buy it. The film focuses on Ndour overcoming controversy and disdain from his Senegalese counterparts and shooting into international fame with the album.

The films highlights are Ndour's performances. A captivating singer and performer, he is a joy to watch and listen to. It is he that moves the film forward, telling his own story and mixing it with his religious beliefs and African tradition. The Egypt album attempted to show a different side of Islam, Ndour's Islam, hoping to change the world's perspective. What the album accomplishes is what the film accomplishes as well, showing a side of Islam that most Western audiences have not seen before. Though music is not a key part in the Islamic faith, Ndour manages to make it a part of his faith, celebrating Islam and African heritage through song.

Sounds of Soweto, and history

by Kevin Ransom, Special To The Ann Arbor News, Thursday October 16, 2008

When the Soweto Gospel Choir first formed in 2002, the group members could not have envisioned how much of a world-music phenomenon they would become.

Since then, the group has won two Grammy Awards, seen two of its albums reach the No. 1 position on the Billboard World Music Chart, collaborated with big names like Bono, Robert Plant, Peter Gabriel and Celine Dion, and performed five times for Nelson Mandela, including a star-studded London concert to celebrate his 90th birthday. They have also raised more $1 million to provide care for those whose families have been victimized by AIDS.

In September, they simultaneously released their "Live at the Nelson Mandela Theatre" CD and DVD - a release timed to coincide with their current tour of North America, which comes to Hill Auditorium on Friday for a show sponsored by the University Musical Society.

Stylistically, the Soweto Gospel Choir's music owes more to traditional African music than it does to American gospel - even though they do deliver the Christian message in some of their songs. The Christian faith has been practiced in South Africa since the 19th century, when missionary schools were established there.

But many of the songs are about South African pride, which is fitting for a country where, for more than 40 years, until 1990, the native black majority was oppressed and even brutalized by the white minority under the rule of apartheid, the legal practice of institutionalized racism, racial segregation and the stripping of the rights of the black native majority.

"Yes, it is important for us to sing about our love for our country, and our pride in our heritage," says choir member Thembisa Khuzwayo. "It's our way of letting the rest of the world know about South African history and culture, and how much pride there is here among our people, and how much we love our culture and our country."

As in American gospel music, the Soweto choir constructs a rich, call-and-response vocal interplay. All the choir members are dressed in traditional, brightly colored African robes, while African dancing is a show-stopping element.

The group's repertoire include songs sung in three different languages - Zulu, Sotho and English, which are only three of South Africa's 11 official languages.

"Culture is always evolving, and popular music is part of that evolution," observed Khuzwayo, who was born in Johannesburg but grew up in Ladysmith in the KwaZulu-Natal province. "We know it's important for us to preserve and convey traditional music, but it's also important for us to connect with various audiences, and to do that, we use the many different musical styles we know and love."

Randy Newman Brings Harps and Angels to Santa Barbara

By Brett Leigh Dicks, Thursday, October 16, 2008

No Shortage of Wit

Not many people can boast a career as successful as Randy Newman’s. He has gathered more Academy Award nominations than Meryl Streep, written a song (“Short People”) that inspired the State of Maryland to legislate a radio ban against it, taken home four Grammy Awards, and even played a singing tree in The Three Amigos—a film that he also cowrote.

Having concentrated much of his recent musical energy in the realm of film soundtracks (which have garnered him 16 Oscar nominations and wins in four different musical categories), Newman released his first solo album in nine years just last month. The recording, titled Harps and Angels, finds the native Californian at his satirical best. And while you might not hear the songs from Harps playing over the speakers at your best bud’s party any time soon, conversely, it won’t be James Taylor telling jokes at the intimate Lobero Theatre this Sunday night. (...)

What about songs you have written for others?

One of the best tunes I ever wrote was for Peter Gabriel for that second Babe movie. “That’ll Do” is the name of the song. But it’s not a song I can sing—I don’t think so. “Feels Like Home” is just about at the limit of a tune I can get by with. (...)

'Iconoclasts' returns, bright-eyed if a bit pat

By Ted Cox | Daily Herald Columnist, Published: 10/16/2008

Two people can bring out the worst in each other, as anyone who's seen the presidential debates can attest. But a unified couple can also have the opposite effect - on themselves and those around them.

"Iconoclasts," the wonderfully whimsical celebrity-on-celebrity interview program, returns at 9 p.m. today on the Sundance Channel, and its fourth season premiere is testimony to that beneficial impact we sometimes have on one another.

In a series based upon unlikely pairings, the season debut offers one of the unlikeliest: South Africa's Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu and British entrepreneur, adventurer and billionaire Sir Richard Branson. What could they possibly have in common? Well, a remarkable fondness for each other, to start, but also a bright-eyed optimism about the state and fate of the world, no matter how dire the current situation.

I have to say, in some ways the Branson-Tutu pairing is "Iconoclasts" at its best, but it also reveals some pitfalls to the show's premise. When the subjects are so big, as these two world figures are, they aren't likely to be pushed to any new insights by the producer-director and crew. Although Tutu and Branson express a clear and mutual affection for each other and a remarkable buoyancy, they don't really get to interact all that much, unless you count Branson trying to give Tutu a short-lived swimming lesson in the ocean-view pool he has on his private island.

There is none of the fascinating conversational back-and-forth that can make "Iconoclasts" so captivating, as was the case between Quentin Tarantino and Fiona Apple in the second season. Instead, there is a lot of historical background on both as individuals, mixed with a few heartwarming scenes of them together.

Yet they are genuinely heartwarming. These are two huge souls, and it's a kick to see them together, even when tossed in with a self-important, idealistic mission organizing a group called the Elders.

That too is a problem, however. Branson and Tutu hope to make the Elders a force for world peace, using well-respected leaders like former Irish President Mary Robinson and UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to mediate conflicts in global hot spots. Yet what does it have to do with Branson and Tutu when fellow Elders organizer Peter Gabriel sits down at the piano to do a singalong on his anthem "Biko" with Roslyn and Jimmy Carter?

The setting is kind of off-putting, too, for anyone not to the manor born. Yes, it's easy to dream of world peace when you're sitting on your own private island, taking discussion breaks with catamaran races and ending the day with your own personal fireworks display.

Yet Tutu, for one, cuts right through the opulence. It's not as if he hasn't seen the other side of life in South Africa under apartheid.

"People are dying in wars," he acknowledges, "but there's goodness and laughter." In effect, he engages a one-man attack on cynicism, and that battle is joined by Branson. "I was just thinking how easy it is to pooh-pooh attempts to change the world," Tutu says. "Because what can a few individuals do in the face of all the ghastliness?" That makes the fight to turn the world into "a slightly more compassionate place" all the more noble.

"You can't be human all by yourself," Tutu says. "We are all connected. - When you are successful, it spreads out."

Branson couldn't have a more eloquent friend and ally, and he projects his own jolly mission to make the world a better place - whether through world peace or simply a better airline.

In the end, "Iconoclasts" wipes away most if not all of the preconceptions and suspicions a viewer might bring to it, to revel in unlikely yet enduring connections between human beings. "There is an extraordinary alchemy that happens between two people," Tutu says, and that expresses the wonder of "Iconoclasts" in its essence.

• Ted Cox writes Tuesday and Thursday in L&E and Friday in Sports and Time out!

Joseph Arthur and the Lonely Astronauts land at York's Strand

Posted by Michael Sedor/ October 15, 2008

Flamboyantly artistic singer/songwriter Joseph Arthur brings his band The Lonely Astronauts to York's Strand-Capitol Performing Arts Center Thursday. Tickets are $19, doors open at 8 p.m. Arthur's dreamy indie rock grasps onto the spiritual, latches onto the poetic abstract, embraces the romantic and dives into earnest indulgence with epic brooding.

So it's only natural that he was first signed by kindred spirit Peter Gabriel. Arthur is currently touring in support of his new album, Temporary People, the fifth! Lonely Astronauts release this year.

Arthur is also an accomplished painter whose abstract expressionist artwork is on display at his Brooklyn gallery The Museum of Modern Arthur.

The Lonely Astronauts music has recently been featured on ABC's Grey's Anatomy and HBO's True Blood and in 2006 was performed live on the David Letterman Show. That performance is below:

Blues sur Seine : Concert The Holmes Brothers

Concert The Holmes Brothers (USA), Espace Corot, jeudi 20 novembre à 20h30

Fils d’enseignants passionnés de musique, Sherman et Wendell Holmes ont grandi en Virginie. Aussi bien influencés par les chants traditionnels d’église que par les rythmes de B.B. King, les deux frères évoluent dans diverses formations avant de créer leur propre groupe avec Popsy Dixon.

Depuis près de trente ans, les Holmes Brothers laissent libre cours à leur amour inconditionnel pour le gospel et le blues. Connus pour leurs talents d’auteurs, ils n’ont toutefois pas leur pareil pour reprendre des titres de légende de Bob Marley et autres Beatles.

Multipliant les succès discographiques (album solo, enregistrement avec Peter Gabriel, Odetta…), ils sont aussi plébiscités pour leur énergie inépuisable sur scène. Leurs nombreuses récompenses, « groupe de l’année en 2005 » par la Memphis Blues Fondation, « meilleur album soul 2008 » des Blues Music Awards, font d’eux un groupe exceptionnel.

Le groupe est composé de Sherman Holmes (chant, basse), Wendell Holmes (chant, guitare, piano) et de Popsy Dixon (batterie).

Site internet :

Plein tarif : 15 €, tarif réduit : 12 €

À cette occasion sera également présentée la restitution des ateliers chants des écoles La Justice et Les Baronnes.

Renseignements : 01 30 92 35 38

Le programme complet sur

15 octobre 2008

David Byrne, Greek Theatre, October 3, 2008

David Byrne has reconnected with fellow traveler Brian Eno to record a fine new album called Everything That Happens Will Happen Today. The album is available for free streaming now and will be available in several fixed format configurations soon. Leave it to Byrne and Eno to take another twist at the cycle of album releases. This is their first collaboration in three decades, and the results are sublime.

Byrne brought a fine band to the Greek to explore many of the new songs, as well as a healthy sampling of his prior solo and Talking Heads work. Many of the most complicated, challenging and satisfying Talking Heads songs involved Eno. Byrne has now convinced me to never miss one of his concerts. When he was last in town I went to the Hollywood Bowl with mild expectations, which he exploded. At the more intimate Greek he delivered an extremely clever and rewarding show.

The crack seven member band was attired in white, as were the trio of dancers who wove through many of the songs. Bassist Paul Frazier was tremendous, as was Mark Degli Antoni on keyboards who fleshed out many of the sonic colors. Notably, Byrne was the only guitarist (but for occasional acoustic guitar accompaniment).

The fourth song of the evening “I Zimbra” was intricate both sonically and visually. The performance brought down the house (which was still yet to burn), culminating in a standing ovation. Byrne looked impish in the adulation. The challenge of weaving dancers into modern music is also being explored by Elvis Costello and Twyla Tharp, their collaboration comes to the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion later this month.

Byrne reached into the dusty corners of his trick bag and pulled out a great song from his Catherine Wheel collaboration with Tharp. He also reworked his most famous cover version, Al Green’s “Take Me to the River,” which is Byrne’s earliest recorded acknowledgement of his black influences.

“Burning Down the House” and “Life During Wartime” lost none of their urgency, and brought out all the karaoke singers in the audience. Same as it ever was, indeed.

Byrne’s voice remains supple with no seeming loss of range. A gorgeous version of “Heaven” featured jangly REMish guitars, and might have been the evening’s highlight.

David Byrne is the epitome of a cool nerd. His geeky gloss does not really hide the clever and inquisitive artist inside. Where is that left field hit single collaboration between Peter Gabriel and David Byrne? Brian Eno will invariably provide the intersection of that much-desired Venn Diagram.

MTV Channels to Show Peace Concert Highlights

By Sergio Ibarra,

MTV’s hi-def channel Palladia has acquired the U.S. TV rights to air highlights from the “Peace One Day Supported by Ben & Jerry’s” concert Oct. 18 at 9 p.m.

The concert, which took place at the Royal Albert Hall in London on Sept. 21, commemorates the international Peace Day as inspired by Jeremy Gilley’s film “Peace One Day” and supported by 200 countries, including all 192 United Nations members.

MTV will air highlights from the concert, which included performances from Bryan Adams, Peter Gabriel, Lenny Kravitz, John Legend and Annie Lennox.

MTV will also broadcast the show on mtvU, the channel’s college network, and through various VH1 Radio Network affiliates in major markets.

Lobbyists to raise funds to build peace centre

Yazeed Kamaldien, The, Published:Oct 13, 2008

Plans to develop the Desmond Tutu Peace Centre in Cape Town are on track, with lobbyists trying to drum up the R150-million it will cost from international philanthropists and even ordinary South Africans.

The centre, which will be the first of its kind to offer peace brokers from international conflict zones a neutral space to strike deals, will be up and running by 2011 if all goes to plan, said centre chief executive Nomfundo Walaza.

It is being driven by its namesake, the retired Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a Nobel Peace Prize winner in 1984 who has been viewed as an international moral compass.

“[For example] if the South African government is brokering peace for the Democratic Republic of Congo, instead of meeting in the parliament buildings, they can meet at a neutral space at the centre ,” said Walaza .

Tutu’s emissaries and fundraisers are now approaching his friends, such as maverick British businessman Richard Branson and lobbyist Peter Gabriel, to donate cash for the development.

“Branson has indicated he would be of assistance ... but ordinary South Africans can also give R100 or R500 towards the bricks. We don’t want this to be funded only by people from overseas ,” said Walaza.

The centre will be built on a piece of prime real estate close to the Cape Town International Convention Centre. The land was donated by the City of Cape Town in 2004.

Daniel Lanois in New York with U2

By DENIS ARMSTRONG - Sun Media, October 10, 2008

It's hard to pin down Daniel Lanois.

I assume the legendary producer and recording artist is playing a gig in New York when he lets it slip that he's in the Big Apple to produce the new U2 record, due in 2009.

As if that isn't news enough, he's simultaneously promoting his latest CD and documentary film Here Is What Is, which is available at, and getting ready to launch an eastern Canada tour next week that includes a stop at Centrepointe Theatre on Oct. 24. The tour marks the 20th anniversary of his first solo record Acadie.

It's a scary, breakneck schedule, which the apparently laid-back 57-year-old takes in stride.

"I enjoy the duality of my laboratory work and studio experiments I'm doing with U2 with my own musical career. It's great to work with people like Bono and Bob Dylan, but there's no better feeling than the chill of bravado I get from playing in front of a live audience. I've always thought of myself as a musician first," he says, reminiscing about the early days in Gatineau and Hamilton when he and his older brother Bob began playing with a tape recorder.

"I was fascinated with sounds. I remember when I was 12, I was recording my friends or the poems I'd make up while delivering papers. Bob and I played together long before we opened Grant Avenue Studios."

Hamilton might have initially seemed an unlikely place for pop royalty to make hit records, but then Brian Eno, a sonic engineer, musician and Lanois' mentor, recorded six "ambient" records there.

"That was a pivotal point in my career," Lanois recalls.

The pair went on to produce some of the most important recordings of the past 20 years, beginning with U2's The Unforgettable Fire. Lanois went on to work with artists like Bob Dylan, Peter Gabriel, Robbie Robertson and The Neville Brothers.

"Creativity and knowledge comes from passion, and I am passionate about music. Every time an artist walks into my studio, I want to get my hands dirty, I want to pull each song apart and find out how it works."

On the new tour, Lanois hopes to play tunes he's remastered from Acadie for the 20th anniversary edition, as well as instrumentals on slide guitar, and show video from Here Is What Is.

"We'll be playing my brand of Canadian folk songs. We'll raise the roof."

Musiciens et soufis : Youssou n'Dour et Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan

Mondomix, 13/10/2008

Dans le cadre des rencontres et débats des Jeudis de l'IMA, Etienne Bours animera, jeudi 16 octobre à 18 h 30, un débat sur le thème "Musiciens et soufis. Youssou n'Dour et Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan". Avec Gérald Arnaud et Pierre alain Baud, le débat portera su la nouvelle manière d’être musicien et soufi sera examinée à travers l’expérience de deux grands interprètes, Youssou N’Dour et Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. L'événement est organisé par les éditions Demi-Lune.

Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan (1948-1997) est issu d’une famille de chanteurs traditionnels soufis (qawwâlî) du Pakistan dont il prolongera la tradition avant de la faire évoluer grâce à sa rencontre avec la musique occidentale et des musiciens tels Peter Gabriel.

Youssou N’Dour (né en 1959 à Dakar, Sénégal), lui, puise dans la tradition musicale des griots d’Afrique mais aussi dans les arrangements afro-cubains. Auteur, interprète et compositeur, il est considéré comme le plus grand chanteur qu’ait connu l’Afrique.

De courts extraits inédits des performances de Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan seront projetés.

Les participants :

Gérald Arnaud : auteur de nombreux films documentaires archéologiques et musicaux, ancien rédacteur en chef de la revue Jazz Hot, journaliste indépendant, il se passionne pour les expressions musicales de l’Afrique. Son dernier livre est Youssou n’Dour, le griot planétaire, (Demi Lune, Paris, 2008).

Pierre Alain Baud : conseiller artistique et journaliste, il s’intéresse à la diffusion des expressions artistiques de l’Orient soufi dans notre monde contemporain, il est l’auteur de plusieurs ouvrages sur le Pakistan. Son dernier livre est Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, le messager du Qawwali, (Demi Lune, Paris, 2008).

Etienne Bours : conseiller musiques du monde à la Médiathèque de Belgique, il est l’auteur du Dictionnaire thématique des Musiques du monde, (Fayard, Paris, 2002).

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