Cross-cultural music is becoming as commonplace as sharing fashion styles. With new technology comes a new music that embraces new instrumentation mimicking the ancient and soulful melodies that would even feel at home in Motown. Westerners have always espoused that music is universal. Yet in our western culture, we tend to take Bach into space instead of a Tuareg lullaby or the soul bending sounds of a Tamil love song.
Like the film noir of the ‘30′s and ‘40′s and black white images in jazz memes, the new music that splashes against many shores is alive with color from parts unknown, from little known cultures and artists that are new to the listener.
Like the German-Japanese sound magician Naoki Kenji – his supernatural keyboard artistry is home to the flavor of Japanese dissonance. Yet the harmonic drive of acoustic base and melody is at home anywhere. His influencers are Al Jarreau and Ivan Lins. His music has enjoyed celebrity status in Japan, Europe, and the US.
Artisan Praful is a German whose real name is Ulrich Schröeder. He began creating jazz as a small child. His acid jazz rhythm has stayed at the top of charts for a record-breaking 70 weeks. He lives near Amsterdam and is master to a host of instruments including the saxophone. His influencers are John Coltrane and Charlie Parker. He has a special affection for Pat Metheny’s earlier work, the syncopated beats of Brazil.
Susheela Raman is a Tamil born in a small town in northern India. She grew up in London and has the vocals of a Dionne Warwick. Chasing the soulful harmonics of Reggae in her traditional cultural songs has garnered her success as a movie sound track vocalist with a huge global following.
For thousands of years, a tall, elegant people roamed the ancient deserts of Northern African. They are the nomads and proud people of the Tuareg. Once called the blue people, or people of the blue veil, their tribe is home to gifted guitarist and singer Bombino. Now that his tribe has come under Islamic fundamentalist rule, Bombino risks his life to bring music to the world. He and his friends learned to play guitar by watching films of Jimi Hendrix and Mark Knopfler.
“The curious beauty of African music is that it uplifts even as it tells a sad tale. You may be poor, you may have only a ramshackle house, you may have lost your job, but that song gives you hope. African music is often about the aspirations of the African people, and it can ignite the political resolve of those who might otherwise be indifferent to politics.” -Nelson Mandela, 1st President of South Africa