Africa Week

All this week on musicOMH we're running interviews with, features on and reviews of African artists, with new articles being published daily.

With Mali's Rokia Traoré headlining in London, Baaba Maal's first album in eight years out and Western Sahara's Group Doueh having just completed their first UK tour, it seemed timely to throw a spotlight on the continent's musicians and their works, from a mainstream, rather than a specialist, perspective. 

This is the first time we've themed this site for a week, and there's a reason for it. African music in the media is ghettoised, confined to specialist publications, BBC Radio 3 and a smattering of newspaper columns. While the quality of these is often excellent, I don't see why it should be so separate, or why people who claim to love music seem so often to dismiss an entire continent, its people and their output as readily as they do.  As Baaba Maal said in his interview with me, "African music… is just music. It doesn't belong to this part or this part. Music is something you share."

So we're running interviews with Maal, Amadou & Mariam (pictured) and Youssou N'Dour, features on the legacy of Fela Kuti and African music's huge influence on dance and classical works from the west, plus a preview of Malawi's Lake Of Stars festival which returns in October.  

Reviews will include Traoré and Doueh live and coverage of new albums from Maal, Vieux Farka Touré, returning Tuareg desert tribesmen Tinariwen and the latest archive raid by Damon Albarn's Honest Jons label, this time delving into 1950s Congo. Most of this will be up by the weekend. 

We've also collected together a selection of our African music related archive content, including reviews of Salif Keita, Angelique Kidjo, Tony Allen, Mayra Andrade, Ali Farka Touré and last year's Africa Express shows, amongst much else. You can access all this and more at the Africa Week index.

I'm well aware that this is but a snapshot of what African artists are doing.  It is in no way meant to be comprehensive.  But I do hope that at least it constitutes something of a rebalance.

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  • Nic Oliver

    Excellent work …

  • Mollie O’Riordan

    This is a comment for Nic Oliver in regards to the article about Paolo Nutini’s album ‘Sunny Side Up’ which I personally found narrow minded, one-sided and quite cleary untrue due to the album’s effortless rise to number one. As someone who reports about and evaluates the music and artists of right now I expected a slightly more open minded view that doesn’t expect an artist with clear talent and such raw originality to stick to a mainstream style to please radio 2. Paolo has bought something to his music as well as his performances that many ‘mainstream’ artists should look into which is passion and conviction, drawing on his roots and incorporating a number of musical genres that truely give music some life. Comparison to the Pussycat Dolls also seems utterly irrelevant as Paolo is not an RnB dance group that gains fans due to his lack of clothing and sexual lyrics. As a ‘musical expert’ I found your article worrying, is it that songs with no meaning, no variation and a aim that is solely to please some uneducated eardrums what our society is now expecting?

  • Michael

    What has Paolo Nutini got to do with Africa Week, which is what this blog post is about?

  • Mollie O’Riordan

    I couldn’t find a way to comment on the paolo nutini blog, this was the only comment bit I could find.