Mayra Andrade – Lovely Difficult – Released: April 14th on Sterns Music

21 Mar

Mayra pr

Mayra Andrade

Lovely Difficult

Released: April 14th, 2014

Mayra Andrade will be in session on BBC Radio 3’s World on 3 with Lopa Kothari on
Friday 4th April at 23.00.

Recorded entirely in Brighton, with deft touches from British soul legend, Omar, and guitar and percussion by long-time Cape Verdean collaborators Kim Alves and Zé Luis Nascimento, ‘Lovely Difficult’ is Mayra’s 4th album. On it she sings in four of the five languages she speaks, and of it she says “It’s a varied, personal album. I’m a woman of my times, affected by so many influences. I’ve never written or sung in so many languages” (Cape-Verdean Creole, Portuguese, French and English). Engineered and produced by Mike Pelanconi, noted for his work with, among others, Lily Allen, the result is decidedly and unashamedly international. As Mayra simply says: “I decided I wanted to make a poppier album.”

But anyone who accuses Mayra of abandoning her roots would be making a grave mistake. Her father fought for Cape-Verdean independence. When there were fears for his wife’s health during pregnancy, she left to have her child in Cuba, the “brother country”. Thus Mayra was born in Havana, but still spent her early childhood in Cape Verde. Aged six, with her mother and diplomat stepfather, they were on the move through Senegal, Angola and Germany, but aged fourteen she returned again to Cape Verde, to Praia on the island of Santiago. Here the musical styles are more percussive than those made famous by Cesaria Evora. The funana and batuque are genres that were frowned upon by the colonial elite but Mayra is passionate about them, and their subtle, gently swinging influence pervades the very fabric of this recording.

Aged 28 and now living in Paris, Mayra has been fêted by the world’s press. Mayra’s shows at Ronnie Scott’s elicited 4 stars from Robin Denselow in the Guardian and the full 5 from Clive Davis in The Times who wrote of “a majestic performance and a stunning night”. The normally reserved Scotsman recently wrote of her appearance at Celtic Connections, where she stole the show, “Mayra Andrade’s opening set, by contrast, was captivating from start to finish … (it) took in elements of jazz, chanson, ska, cabaret, torch-song, power-pop, and even a dash of rockabilly, matching sensuously elastic vocals with highly sophisticated songwriting.” We could hardly put it better and all are brought together, here in one complete whole, on ‘Lovely Difficult’.

Seun Kuti + Egypt 80 – A Long Way To The Beginning. Released by Because on 24/3/14

12 Mar

Seun Kuti + Egypt 80

A Long Way To The Beginning
Released by Because on 24/3/14

Seun Kuti + Egypt 80 live:

April 2
Village Underground
54 Holywell Lane
London EC2A 3PQ
+44 (0) 20 7422 7505

June 7
Field Day
Victoria Park
London, E9 7BT
1, 2, 3, 4… with a clenched fist and a blast of his alto-sax, Seun Kuti launches into ‘IMF’, the opening track on A Long Way To The Beginning – his tightest, most electrifying album yet. This time around no one escapes the Afrobeat warrior’s ire: not corrupt Nigerian leaders or sly western powers. Not bankers, corporate greedheads or any lying, cheating international mother***ker anywhere.

My people are coming for what’s ours,’ sings Kuti, 31, in his powerful, stentorian voice. ‘Going all out ‘cause it’s now or never, ‘breakin’ the chain, we gon’ sever…’

It’s been a struggle to get to now. There were those who criticized his decision to front his father’s band; who said it was arrogant, even hubristic, to try and fill his father’s shoes. This was never Seun’s aim: “Fela will always be Number One,” says the Lagos-based scion, who inherited the extraordinary Egypt 80 orchestra in 1997 when his father died.

“What I want is for young people in Africa to believe in Africa, to come together for Africa.” A smile. “What I want is to inspire change.”

And so Fela’s youngest child has full-steamed ahead with his own inimitable brand of Afrobeat: a sound as compelling as it was when Fela Anikulapo Kuti first fused jazz, funk and soul with highlife and other African rhythms – but with topical lyrics and contemporary influences giving it a modern twist. So far there have been two critically acclaimed albums: 2008’s Many Things and 2011’s From Africa With Fury: Rise.

With A Long Way to the Beginning, we’ve arrived where the journey starts.

“This is the beginning of the reign of Afrobeat music,” says Kuti. “Afrobeat is not just about being Fela’s son anymore. There are hundreds of bands playing Afrobeat around the world, from Australia to Israel to the US. What began with my father has become a global movement.”

And A Long Way To The Beginning is at its vanguard. Co-produced by the Grammy-winning American jazz pianist Robert Glasper, the album features a clutch of young artists from the African diaspora – the singer Nneka, rappers M-1 of dead prez and Blitz the Ambassador, and on the ‘IMF’ remix, the award-laden US trumpeter Christian Scott. It’s a recording that lassos all the passion, adrenalin and searing truth of a Seun Kuti & Egypt 80 live show.

From the stage to the studio… never from the studio to the stage.

Here, then, are the kicking basslines, strong horn melodies and call-and-response hooks that have made Egypt 80 – led by saxophonist-turned-keyboard player Lekan Animashaun, 73 – the stuff of legend.

But here, too, is space. Longer intros and more instrumental parts serve to underline the lyrics, lend them more impact: ‘See young people marching down the street and they chanting,’ runs ‘Higher Consciousness’, a song Kuti wrote in support of popular uprisings, showcasing the power of Afrobeat to open minds and unglue eyes. Like ‘African Airways’ – whose lyrics highlight Kuti’s talent for biting satire – it’s a track with a shimmering, drawn-out intro.

Kuti composed with his future collaborators in mind, heeding the advice given to him by Brian Eno, his co-producer on Rise: “Brian is a musical genius,” he says with a grin. “He told me that if I really wanted to work effectively with other people then I had to give them the breathing room to express themselves. This meant that once we got into the studio, Robert [Glasper] was able to bring his own ideas to the music, and add more colour to the sound.”

All his guests share like minds and a common message. “I read an interview with M-1 where he said he’d like to work with me, so I hit him up on Twitter,” says Kuti of the committed pan-Africanist whose scattergun commentary peppers ‘IMF’. “We have the same consciousness: he tries to speak for the majority and encourage them to develop themselves emotionally and mentally.”

Mutual friends in New York introduced Kuti to Blitz the Ambassador (“I liked his take on African hip hop and the message it should be portraying”); the Ghanaian-American spitter lends his vocals to ‘African Smoke’, a ferocious rallying cry on which Glasper also guests. Then there’s his friend, the German-Nigerian songbird Nneka, who delivers the lyrics of ‘Black Woman’ – a melodious paean to the women of the Motherland – in a voice both elevating and life-affirming.

“There’s a lot of propaganda about how all African men are sexist and I wanted to address that,” says Kuti, who with Yetunde Ademiluyi, a singer and backing dancer in Egypt 80, recently became the first-time parent of a baby girl. “Nneka also represents what I’d love to see in young black female artists, in that she portrays herself as nature intended her to be.”

‘Black Woman’ also sees Kuti name-checking strong female African personalities: Maya Angelou. Angela Davis. Nina Simone. His grandmother, Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti, a prominent civil rights campaigner (and the first woman in Nigeria to drive a car) – who died in 1978 after the Nigerian military threw her from a window during a raid on the Kalakuta Republic, her son Fela’s compound.

“I’m a member of a family that’s always been part of the struggle,” says Kuti, who references his unconventional upbringing in the anthemic ‘Kalakuta Boy’. “But more and more there are educated African youth who understand the system, who know that they deserve to be respected as citizens, and to life peaceful lives as human beings. This frustration is coming to the boil.

“Bringing a child into this world has given me a kind of renewed energy to make sure I stand for change in Africa,” he continues. “I want her to grow up in an Africa that represents its people.”

Having long lost faith in the music industry – “Today it’s controlled by corporations who own the media, which then dictates what ‘good’ music is” – Kuti is fighting the fight elsewhere. His weapons are fearsome: social media. Socio-political movements such as Occupy Nigeria and Change Movement Nigeria ( ): “We are a group of young concerned Africans who believe that with personal effort and dedication we can make a difference, not by going crying to western countries for donations.”

Afrobeat is leading the charge: “This album is a soundtrack for the mindset of most young people in Africa today,” says Kuti of A Long Way to the Beginning. “As African youth we have to stand for what we want.”

So now look. Look at the Kalakuta Boy out the front of Egypt 80, the band that speaks for the common man in Africa and right around the world. See him strutting the stage stripped to the waist, his saxophone around his neck, the sweat of conviction on his brow. See those two words tattoo-ed across his back like wings: FELA LIVES.

“I have to believe that I am making Fela proud,” says Kuti, whose shoes are one size larger than his father’s anyway. “Over the years the band has come back to its peak, to the place they were in when Fela was fronting them.”

He pauses, smiles. “And now,” he says, “we go forward.”
Jane Cornwell

La Linea 14 – The London Latin Music Festival 2014 – final 2 shows added

26 Feb

The London Latin Music Festival 2014 – final 2 shows added Final 2 shows added:

  • Thursday 3 April – Karol Conka feat. special guest Lady Chann + Mr Bongo Brazilian Beats DJs Concrete
  • Sunday 6 April – Melingo Purcell Room


  • Friday 11 April – Marinah Rich Mix. Fernando’s Kitchen added as support

The London Latin Music Festival 2014

Thursday 3 April – Karol Conka feat. special guest Lady Chann + Mr Bongo Brazilian Beats DJs Concrete
Friday 4 April – Gaby Moreno – Rich Mix
Friday 4 April – LONDON COMMUNITY GOSPEL CHOIR – GOSPEL MEETS LATIN Featuring Omar Puente and his band Union Chapel
Sunday 6 April – Melingo Purcell RoomMonday 7 April – Ed Motta + Dom La Lena – Union Chapel (Ed Motta also on La Linea tour, details below)
Tuesday 8 April – Roberto Fonseca + Family Atlantica – Koko
Thursday 10 April – Lokkhi Terra presents CubAfroBeat featuring Dele Sosimi – Rich Mix
Friday 11 April 11 – Marinah + Fernando’s Kitchen - Rich Mix
Friday 2 May – Grupo Niche + DJs Johnny G, Julian Mr M & Fercho KBson – Electric Brixton

LA LINEA was created by Como No in 2001 to showcase the Latin contribution to the wider musical world and to celebrate new artists, new collaborations and new projects. It also recognises and responds to London’s growing status as one of the world’s great Latin cities, home to many Latin artists and a hungry and diverse audience. La Linea takes place each year in a range of venues across central London from clubs to concert halls, presenting the widest range of new Latin music.

As ever La Linea touches down throughout the diaspora with participation from Brazil, Spain, Guatemala, Colombia, Argentina and Cuba – with African roots represented by Nigerian ex-Fela sideman, Dele Sosimi. Never forgetting that it’s a London ting, where diversity is writ large, La Linea 14 welcomes local global bands Lokkhi Terra, Fernando’s Kitchen and Family Atlantica. As for genres featured in La Linea 14, we have Classic Cali salsa from perennial hit makers, Grupo Niche; quirky Brazilian jazz funk from a true master in the substantial form of Ed Motta; the more ethereal sounds of Brazil-born Dom La Nena, and fellow Brazilian Karol Conka’s unique take on baile funk and hip hop; the rebooted Flamenco of ex-Ojos de Brujo front woman Marinah, whose new style has more flavours than a freshly made jug of sangria; while Roberto Fonseca stretches out from his Buena Vista Social Club roots into all things jazzy and Afro Cuban; alongside the fresh talent of Latin Grammy best newcomer, Gaby Moreno (currently touring as part of Hugh Laurie’s Copper Bottom Band); the return of Argentina’s Tom Waits of Tango, Melingo; new and unique projects like Lokkhi Terra presents CubAfroBeat featuring Dele Sosimi and London Community Gospel Choir’s, Gospel Meets Latin featuring Omar Puente and his band for a different kind of Hot Gospel (Gospel Caliente, perhaps?)

La Linea is supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England and by PRS for Music Foundation.

feat. special guest Lady Chann + Mr Bongo Brazilian Beats DJs
Thursday 3 April
Doors 8pm
56 Shoreditch High Street
E1 6JJ
Tickets: £10 plus booking fee

Youtube links -
Boa Noite
Corre Corre Erê
Brazil’s hip hop revelation Karol Conka has bounced bang into the spotlight thanks to neon energy, hard graft and a sound all her own. Mashing up hip hop with baile funk, trap and Afro-Brazilian beats, Karol Conka’s sound is a uniquely Brazilian mix. Batuque just got freaked.

Winner of the 2013 Multishow Best New Artist award, with over 2 million views of her video singles (Boa Noite also features on the FIFA 2014 EA game) and a blazing collaboration with Buraka Som Sistema for Adidas, Karol Conka is now set to take on the world with the international release of her debut album on Mr Bongo Records.

Karoline dos Santos Oliveira, aka Karol Conka, first set foot on stage in her home-town Curitiba in southern Brazil aged just 17. Ten years later, the young MC has proved that she has what it takes to be one of the most distinctive voices from today’s high-grade Brazilian hip hop scene.

One of the very few female Brazilian hip hop artists to break out of the underground, Karol Conka’s wider success was kicked off by the 2011 single Boa Noite (nominated for an MTV Brazil award). With the Brazilian launch of the album via VICE magazine, downloads and shows across the country, the rapper, singer and songwriter – influenced by Brazilian Pop Music (MPB) and a big Azealia Banks fan – has gained national recognition and critical acclaim. Hugely respected by her peers, she has also shared the stage with rap pioneers Racionais MCs, hip-hop hero Criolo and label-mate Marcelo D2, as well as recording with major rap star Projota and samba veteran Luiz Melodia.


+ support

Friday 4 April
Doors 8pm
Rich Mix
35-47 Bethnal Green Rd, London E1 6LA
Box Office: 020 7613 7498
Tickets: £15 in advance

Youtube links:

After a whirlwind couple of years Gaby Moreno won the Latin Grammy for best new artist in November 2013. Born and raised in Guatemala, she started listening to blues, r&b and soul at a young age. Singers like Ella Fitzgerald, Nina Simone and Aretha Franklin inspired her to take on singing herself. She released her debut album Still The Unknown in 2008. Latina Magazine acclaimed her “Best New Latin Artist 2010″. The next year without any push or support from a label, her independently released second album IlIustrated Songs reached #1 in sales on Latin Itunes and Amazon Latin.

In 2012, Gaby Moreno recorded the duet “Fuiste Tu” with her countryman Ricardo Arjona. The song won wide approval with a Latin audience as well as two Latin Grammy nominations for “Song of The Year” and “Recording Of The Year”. Subsequently Gaby released her third album Postales which retains the same swing as her previous records and is sung completely in Spanish.

In 2013, she recorded a duet with Hugh Laurie, for his album Didn’t It Rain, a cover of the popular song “Kiss Of Fire” and Gaby has been touring the world with Hugh Laurie and the Copper Bottom Band.

“The Guatemalan songwriter Gaby Moreno plucked ragtimey syncopations on a well-worn acoustic guitar, and let loose a tangy, bluesy voice with the feistiness of Édith Piaf.” - NY Times

“Moreno’s breathtaking voice is passionate and stylistically malleable, as she glides back and forth easily between bossa nova and bluesy rock.”- NPR Tiny Desk

Amira Kheir – Live at Rich Mix – 20/2/14. New CD “Alsahraa” – Released 17/3/14

13 Feb

Amira Kheir – Live at Rich Mix – 20/2/14. New CD “Alsahraa” – Released 17/3/14
Amira Kheir

Released 17/3/14
CD Launch
Thursday 20 February 8pm
Rich Mix
35-47 Bethnal Green Rd, London E1 6LA
Tickets: £12, £10
BOX OFFICE 020 7613 7498

“it (Amira’s debut album) is both beautiful and fearless.” Songlines
“charming performer who’s captured her live acoustic sound well … comfortable with both high drama and intimate balladry.” The Independent

Following the release of her critically acclaimed first album ‘View From Somewhere’ (2011), Sudanese-Italian singer Amira Kheir is back to launch her highly anticipated second album ‘Alsahraa’ (Contro Cultura Music/ Sterns) at Rich Mix on the 20th of February. A stunning set of minimalism and experimentation, Amira takes her opening statement made in ‘View From Somewhere’ even further – exploring Sudanese tradition through a jazz articulation, touches of blues and a lot of soul. With refined fluency in improvisation and through electric conversations with her long standing band of virtuosos featuring guitarist Camilo Menjura, double bassist Michele Montolli, drummer Leandro Mancini and special guests and long time collaborators oud player Nadir Ramzy, trumpet player James MacKay, Nay player Kalia Baklizanaki and Senegalese singer Abdoulaye Samb, Amira takes her mission to bold new heights with this second album. With ‘Alsahraa’, Amira reveals a distinctive vocal character, with great prowess and ability to navigate with fluidity the partitions between jazz, soul and traditional Sudanese repertoire. Recorded live with the intention of capturing the magic of Amira and her band’s live performance, this defining album is a true arrival point for this young artist and invites the listener to be overwhelmed in the barren landscape of the desert and to discover the fruits of alchemy between these young musicians.

Amira has continued to develop and refine her unique interpretation of the Sudanese tradition. This she achieves by combining it with original material in a contemporary acoustic setting, and while on Alsahraa she confines herself to just two languages, Arabic and Italian, her voice explores this repertoire with the ease and passion that only a true tri-lingual singer can. Born in Italy of Sudanese parents, Amira has now made London her home.

Rather in the spirit of the album’s title, “the desert”, her sound is clear and ascetic, and recorded in the acoustically beautiful space of the Union Chapel, London, it is a true and honest reflection of Amira’s own compelling live performances.

On Alsahraa Amira draws inspiration from Sudanese spirituals, re-interprets traditional repertoire and folkloric pieces, and adds flavour and influence from her roots to her own compositions which make up the majority of the album. Her compositions showcase her versatility as a songwriter as well as her growth as a performer through songs such as ‘Ya Gadir’ (Powerful One) an earthy percussion led spiritual setting the tone for the album; the enchanting and ethereal seminal piece ‘Alsahraa’ (The Desert); ‘Habibi Ta’al’ (Come to me, my love) a dramatic and fiery re-arrangement of a popular tale of impossible love; the polyrhythmic and invigorating feminist manifesto ‘Ya Mara’ (Woman); an hypnotic and cinematic ‘Luna’ (Moon) where the relationship between vocals and bass sets the mood for an alluring and spontaneous improvisation; the explosively euphoric percussion led traditional piece ‘Sera’ where Amira showcases her vocal leading abilities; the uplifting ‘Kasr Almiraya’ (The shattering mirror) a groovy blues and Amira’s most daring vocal performance; the beautiful and poetic ‘Fil teyf’ an oud and voice rendition where Amira pays tribute to one of the great Sudanese songwriters of the Haqeeba tradition and the haunting ‘Khallooni’ (Let Me Be), the album’s chilling closing statement. Hypnotic, assertive, spiritual, defiant; Amira’s second album ‘Alsahraa’ is emblem that at the creative crossroads lies a possibility, incumbent upon artists, to colour outside the lines.

Relaxed yet alert and articulate, Amira is no stranger to the BBC and other broadcasters’ studios, nor indeed, to some of the world’s most prestigious stages and festivals including the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London, and the Festival Of The Desert in Mali. Her music might be set in the wide open spaces of Alsahraa, but its impact is intimate and personal.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.