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Jagwa Music: Center Stage US Tour


“Speed, heat, and swagger. Tanzania's Jagwa Music bangs out a hard-won celebration as screaming hot as a jet engine.” The group will be touring in North America for the first time, notable events are: Millenium Center, Washington, DC (October 1), Le Poisson Rouge, New York (October 5), Joshua Tree Music Festival in California (October 8). Jagwa Music’s trip is part of a Center Stage touring programme featuring artists from Algeria, Pakistan and Tanzania in the 2016-17 season. More information on the tour can be found here.
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Mtendeni Maulid Ensemble: Performance in Konya, Turkey


Mtendeni Maulid Ensemble will perform at the 13th edition of the Konya International Mystic Music Festival in Turkey on September 27.
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Rajab Suleiman & Kithara: Center Stage US Tour


“A renewed taarab reinvigorates Zanzibar’s syncretic signature sound.” Rajab Suleiman & Kithara make their U.S. debut tour in 2016, as part of Center Stage, an exchange program of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, produced by the New England Foundation for the Arts. More information on the tour here.
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Ustadh Zein l’Abdin Ahmed Alamoody & Shakila Said: Mungu Awalaze Pema


It is with sadness that we learn of the passing of ‘ud-master Zein l’Abdin and revered taarab songbird Shakila Said. Zein passed away in his home on Ndia Kuu in Mombasa’s Old Town on June 27. He was 77. Born in Lamu in 1939 Zein became one of the mainstays of the Mombasa taarab scene in the early 1960s. An accomplished ‘ud-player – actually without peers in the world of taarab-singer and composer he led the Zein Musical Party, which at times in the 1960s and 1970s included singers Zuhura, Malika and Maulidi Juma who would all become stars in their own right later on. Zein’s international recognition was set in motion with a recording for the pioneering GlobeStyle label in 1989. He toured in Europe in 1993, 1996, 1999 and 2004 and recorded a second album “The Swahili Song Book” in 1999. An obituary with details of Zein’s biography can be found here. Some of Zein’s earliest recordings also featuring Zuhurah Swaleh can be found on Zanzibara 2.

Shakila Said (who passed away in Dar es Salaam on August 19) rose to fame with the Tanga-based Black Star and Lucky Star Musical Clubs in the late 1960s and early 1970s, major innovators in the history of taarab music. Shakila’s clear high-pitched voice graced many of the time’s biggest hits. She had a big comeback in the 1980s when she joined JKT Taarab in Dar es Salaam, at the time Tanzania’s biggest and most popular taarab orchestra. A sampling of Black and Lucky Star takes, featuring Shakila among other singers can be found on GlobeStyle’s “Nyota” (1989). In the sidebar is a link to one of Shakila’s best-known songs “Mapenzi Yamepungua”, performed with the Rajab Suleiman Trio at the Fès Sacred Music Festival.

Poetry in Motion: 100 Years of Zanzibar’s Ikhwan Safaa Musical Club


Ikhwan Safaa Musical Club, Zanzibar’s oldest taarab orchestra and social club, celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2005, distinguishing it as one of the oldest orchestras in the world today. Nadi Ikhwan Safaa performs a genre of Swahili poetry sung to instrumental accompaniment known as taarab. Taarab traces its roots to musical and poetic traditions of Africa, Arabia, and South Asia, thus is a true expression of the ethos of Zanzibar’s and the East African coast’s Swahili culture. The film traces the evolution of the club through interviews, old video footage, portraits of some of the leading figures in the club’s history like the orchestra’s bandleader in the 1950s Abdalla Buaisha or the club’s first female singer Nihifadhi Abdallah. It also features footage from the club’s 2005 anniversary concert with singers Maulidi Mohamed “Machaprala”, Rukia Ramadhani and Mohamed Ilyas. The DVD will be released by Buda Musique in April 2016.

Zanzibara Volume 9: Mbaraka Mwinshehe & Super Volcano - Masika


Tanzania’s Mbaraka Mwinshehe rose to fame in the early 1970s to become the most popular dance music act in East Africa with frequent touring across Tanzania and neighboring countries, especially Kenya. Orchestre Super Volcano was formed in 1972 and this collection features the group’s initial recordings and their new dance style “Masika”. Available from Buda Musique.

Rajab Suleiman & Grand Orchestre Taarab de Zanzibar:
At Jerusalem Sacred Music Festival


Last month Rajab Suleiman & Grand Orchestre Taarab de Zanzibar performed at Jerusalem Sacred Music Festival. Here is a video of Makame Faki performing “Salaam Aleikum”, ‘a message of peace.’

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poetry in motion cd cover
zanzibara 9 cd cover
zanzibara 8 cd cover
zanzibara 7 cd cover
jagwa cd cover