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Omara Portuondo - Le World... Cuba (2002)

«Omara Portuondo is the grand old lady of Cuban music. While her early recordings made her a star in Cuba, her participation in the 1996 album and video documentary, The Buena Vista Social Club, brought her to international attention. Her solo album, The Buena Vista Social Club Presents Omara Portuondo, released in 2000, reinforced her status as one of Cuba's greatest musical ambassadors.
A native of Havana, Portuondo was one of three daughters born to a baseball player on the Cuban national team and a woman of Spanish heritage who left the comfort and support of her wealthy family home to marry the man she loved. Her parents' singing provided the soundtrack for her early life. As a youngster, she sang in school choirs and music classes. Heavily influenced by an older sister, Haydee, a dancer at the Tropicana cabaret, Portuondo attended many of the troupe's rehearsals. When the ensemble found itself short one dancer, in 1945, she was recruited to fill the vacancy. The experience launched her on a career as a dancer and she formed a successful partnership with Rolando Espinosa. Portuondo balanced her dancing with singing engagements with friends, including Cesar Portillo De La Luz, Jose Antonio Mendez, and pianist Frank Emilio Flynn, calling themselves Loquimbambla Swing. The group helped to pioneer the filin style of music that blended bossa nova and American jazz. For a while, she also performed with Orquestra Anaconda.
In 1952, Portuondo joined with her sister and Elena Burke to form a vocal group, Cuarteto d'Aida. The group's sound was established with the addition of pianist and director Aida Diestro and female vocalist Moraima Secada. Although she released her debut solo album, Magia Negra, in 1959, Portuondo continued to work with the group.
Cuarteto d'Aida's fortunes were drastically effected by the Bay of Pigs crisis in 1961. Although they had become frequent performers in Miami, FL, they were prevented from returning as the relationship between Cuba and the United States collapsed. While Portuondo returned to her homeland, continuing to perform with Cuarteto d'Aida until 1967, her sister elected to remain in the United States.
Although she performed with Orquestra Aragon in the 1970s, Portuondo had settled into semi-retirement by the mid-'90s. Her plans to slow down her career were altered after Ry Cooder, who was in Cuba recording with the Chieftains, heard her sing in 1995. When he returned, the following year, to produce The Buena Vista Social Club, Portuondo was invited to become a featured vocalist with the all-star group. In 1998, Portuondo recorded a duo album, Desafios, with Cucho Valdes.» (AMG)

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Malkit Singh - King of Bhangra (2004)

«Malkit Singh was born in the village Husainpur near Jalandhar. He is the oldest child of five. He started singing at the age of four and attended a local school in his village where is talent was recognised. He then carried his talent through to college where he participated in competitions and won many awards. And now has taken his music from the Punjabi vernacular to cross-cultural experiments with various types of music such as rap, house, dance, Bollywood film screens and so fourth. As a result, traditional Punjabi folk music has gone from the relative obscurity of a Punjabi village to the heady heights of a world stage. As the music spreads its wings across the globe, Malkit Singh encompasses audience of all ages and backgrounds. With this, Malkit Singh has received numerous awards and accolades for his musical talents in that his contributions to Bhangra music and the Indian community have been greatly noted. […]

Malkit Singh has been hailed the ‘King of Bhangra,’ and is one of the few Punjabi icons around in today’s Bhangra industry. Punjabi’s all around the world look up to Malkit’s original style, melodious voice and unique music as he represents the true traditional Punjabi culture to worldwide audiences. His fan base keeps on growing from strength to strength. He encompasses an audience of all ages, from old to young. He has maintained his true Punjabi image throughout his career, which people have respected and feel they can look up to him as a role model. His popular music and videos have won over today’s generation of youngsters as well as keeping his die-hard fans happy, and will continue to do so in years to come.» (Hollywood Bowl)

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Vampisoul goes to Africa: AfroBeat Nirvana (2008)

«In this specially priced compilation, you'll find a variety of Nigerian Sounds from the late 50's to the 80's and showcases some of the finest artists including Tony Allen, Orlando Julius and of course Fela Kuti. Mixing jazz, soul, rock, psychedelia and more with traditional African sounds and rhythms, the music that emanates from this fine collection is a testament to the rich, modern musical history of Nigeria. All of these songs come from current or upcoming releases on Vampi-Soul's huge West African Re-issue project but this CD, in itself, is a great introduction to the music that has come to be termed "Afrobeat". The full list of artists include Bola Johnson, Fela-Ransome Kuti, Opotopo, Tony Allen with Africa 70, Olando Julius & Afrosounders, Godwin Omobuwa, Fred Fisher Atolobor.» (Amazon)

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Musidanças 06 (2006)

A rare (and great) collection of lusophone music from Portugal, Brasil, Mozambique, Capo Verde, São Tomé and Príncipe, Guinée-Bissau and Angola.

«A Sara Tavares um dia lançou-me o desafio. Porque não fazer uma compilação com a participação de artistas que actuariam no Festival Musidanças desse ano.
Desafio feito, desafio aceite e assim em 2006 surge este CD Musidanças, que mostra a música de alguns dos muitos projectos da música do mundo lusofono que proliferam aqui em Portugal.
Os artistas cederam uma música dos seus CDs do momento, o Cláudio Silva masterizou, a Elsa Escaja fez o design da capa do CD e foi editado pela Zoomusica (MML) etiqueta dedicada á música do mundo lusofono.» (Firmino Pascoal, Zoomusica)

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Ayo - Joyful (2006)

«Folk-soul chanteuse Ayo [her name means "joy" in Nigerian Yoruba] emerged as one of Europe's biggest new pop stars of 2006 with her breakthrough debut LP, Joyful. Born to a Nigerian father and Romanian gypsy mother in Cologne, West Germany, on September 14, 1980, as a child Ayo absorbed the musical traditions of her parentage as well as influences including American soul, reggae, and Afrobeat, all staples of her father's extensive record collection. Ayo first studied violin before moving to piano and guitar. At 21 she relocated to London, later dividing her time between Paris and New York City and earning attention while opening for neo-soul kindred spirits including Omar and Cody Chestnutt. After recording a five-song demo reel, Ayo briefly receded from the live circuit in late 2005 to give birth to her first child. Early the following year she signed to Polydor, and with producer Jay Newland completed Joyful (the English translation of her Yoruba name) in just five days. Buoyed by the lead single "Down on My Knees," the album fell just shy of the German Top Ten.» (AMG)

«Joyful was produced by Grammy award-winner Jay Newland and recorded in New York City in five days flat, under studio-live conditions. This created a relaxed yet urgently charged ambience that underpins the ebb and flow of all 12 tracks. Musically, the tunes incorporate diverse quotes from a polyglot life, such as accordion-laced French bal musette, slouchy Afro-Euro reggae, quietly down-and-dirty R & B-influenced organ riffs, Beatles-eque piano chords, plus subtle strings and over all, a moodily suave acoustic guitar. Ayo's girlishly light but spot-on vocals are sung primarily in English with occasional touches of Nigerian pigeon. She speaks of sexual passion hopeless and fulfilled, family, friendships, and philosophical observations both grim and optimistic; these are young songs from an old soul.» (Christina Roden, Amazon)

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