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FROM AFRICA TO AMERICA: GoNOMAD’s Favorite African World Music Fusion CD’s


Femi Kuti
"Shoki, Shoki"


Son of the legendary Nigerian Fela Anikulapo Kuti, who originated Afrobeat, Femi Kuti delivers a powerful, danceable CD that mixes the best of his father’s high-energy, political, style with his own brand of contemporary Afro Pop.

Think Tower of Power meets Uwe drummers in a jazz-infused format and you get the idea. This is sexy, dance-all-night music. "Beng, Beng, Beng" the CD’s steamiest track is pure Kuti, Jr. -- big bass, big horns and lots of hip-grinding groove (banned in Nigeria for it’s sexual lyrics) -- while "Blackman Know Yourself" puts Kuti squarely in his dad’s camp; using music to express the needs, desires and political aspirations of the African people. The remaining tracks keep the energy and groove going all night. Wanna dance?

Papa Wemba


A Zairean legend (now based in Paris), Papa Wemba has been singing traditional African songs for over a quarter of a decade. But with this release, he blends his powerful voice and African roots with the talents of French-African singer/songwriter Pascal Lokua Kanza and keyboardist Jean-Philippe Rykiel and decades of influence from American Blues to Cuban Salsa to create a fun CD that rocks with emotion and modernity.

"Show Me The Way," mixes blues guitar and English backing vocals in the chorus with African drums and a ballad rhythm as mellow as the wide Zaire River that winds through his homeland. His sultry, African version of "Sad Song" would make Otis Redding proud. Easy listening, to be sure, but no mistaking the roots of this CD. This is Africa, smooth, wide and modern.

Mali To Memphis: An African-American Odyssey
Various Artists


Picking up on the cross-pollination between African music and the American blues, Putamayo has produced a CD that makes the relationship clear as an African night. From Mali to Memphis offers tracks from artists on both sides of the River.

Malian Habib Koite meets Muddy Waters and Amadou and Mariam meet Jessie Mae Hemphill and Taj Mahal. If you ever wondered just what united Mali and Mississippi, wonder no further. Riffs, patterns, twangy guitars, and melancholy vocals (even if you can’t understand the lyrics) are seamless from one track to the next, so much so that you can almost imagine what kind of music must have been floating through the nights in the muggy fields of the American South two hundred years ago.

Ali Farka Toure


Malian blues guitarist Ali Farka Toure is, without doubt, Africa’s answer to John Lee Hooker. Toure’s soulful, wandering guitar brings to life the rhythms of rural Africa and the Saharan sounds of his homeland. In fact, Toure’s slide guitar work caught the attention of Ry Cooder, who proposed they do a1994 album together, Talking Timbuktu. But Niafunke is Toure solo, pure and better.

Recorded in a crumbling adobe studio in his hometown of Niafunke, this is his first release in 5 years. Farming the arid lands around his home had taken up much of his time and energy, and the tracks on this CD take him back to this traditional aspect of most Malians’ lives, from which Toure, and the blues, are never far away. Smooth, cool and authentic. Don’t miss this CD.

Baaba Maal
"Nomad Soul"

Nomad Soul

A young, college-educated Senegalese singer from a family of traditional Fulani musicians mixes Funk, R&B and Rap with the influence of native Griot singers on one of our favorite world music fusion CD’s.

Not only does Baaba’s resonant voice — one of the best in Africa -- carry the winds of Africa, but combined with the talents of Sinead O’Connor and the Screaming Orphans (her backup group), Brian Eno, Jon Hassell, Luciano and others, this CD is a seamless blend of the best of Western and African music. African drums, big horns (ala Femi Kuti), Celtic harmonies, pulsing bass, blues guitars, and reggae riffs all seem perfectly in place here. Trust us; you’ll love this CD. We do.

Johnny Clegg and Juluka
"A Johnny Clegg and Juluka Collection"


This is classic African world music fusion from the first multi-racial band in South Africa. In 1979, Johnny Clegg, an English-born, white South African, and black musician Sipho Mchunu formed a band, Juluka, and, in spite of the radical notion of their very existence, became very popular for their form of mbaqanga (township jive) -- traditional Zulu styles and melodies mixed with Western rock: a musical interpretation of their political philosophy.

Rocking beat, Zulu harmonies and passionate pleas to end racism made Clegg and Juluka popular from Cape Town to San Francisco in the early 80’s. This CD offers tunes from 6 different, highly acclaimed albums, including the chart-topper, Scatterlings of Africa. It is not a greatest hits CD, however, and if you’re looking for favorite radio play tunes, you’ll be disappointed. Nonetheless, these 10 powerful tracks show just what made Johnny Clegg and Juluka truly cutting-edge in both their politics and their music.

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