If only I could title this week’s World Music Show (1/27) blog “Women Who Rock!” Because that title encompasses the power and the message and the “umph” that I think this week’s show will produce. The alternative title, “World Music Women,” or “Women who are Worldly” just doesn’t have the same feeling.
So what’s a World Music Show host to do?
I’ll tell you—we pull out the trumpets, the cymbals and in our case, the vuvuzela. (You know, those loud horns heard at World Cup matches?) Because there are such a slew of amazing female artists who are dominating the world music scene right now that every so often, we need to have a show just to celebrate this fact.
And to put this theme into sharper focus, this show could practically run all month long—really, I may have to have a part two, because I’ve left so many people out. With that, We’re going to break down the list by highlighting the trailblazers, the standouts and then the newcomers. Then, I’ll fill you in on the semi-famous “Show within a Show,” known as A Different Spin, in which I interview musicians and authors about all things music.
We’ll kick start the show with the legendary Carmen Miranda. Sadly, she is known mostly as a comic side kick who wore a big hat made of fruit, and who was also beautiful and could sing, Miranda was actually much more than that. She performed all over the world, played guitar and brought her Samba style to the masses. She deserves much more credit then she received during her heyday from the 30s to the 1950s.
Talk about a trailblazer! Makeba was one of the pioneers in not only South African music but in World Music. With her breakout hit “Pata Pata,” which came out in 1967, she was an outspoken critic of South Africa’s Apartheid system in its early stages and in fact was banned from returning to her country after an passionate plea to the United Nations in 1963. She was only able to return to her home when Nelson Mandela was head of the ANC. She was also married for a time to Hugh Masekele, who just passed away.
Did you know that her recording of the famous Bossa Nova hit “Girl from Ipanema” was just a lark? When she was in the studio with her then husband Joao Gilberto and Jazz musician Stan Getz, they wanted someone to sing that song just to see how it sounded with a female voice. Well, they liked what they heard and so did the world, because Gilberto ushered in the whole Bossa Nova craze in the 60s.
Ana Moura & Cesaria Evora:
I put these two incredible singers together because their style of music, namely Fado and Mourna, are basically cut from the same cloth. Both styles were born out of a Portuguese style of love song and/or sad song (usually about the sea). And both women have the singing chops that elevated this genre.
Like her mother (and father) Bebel has taken the Brazilian Bossa Nova style and made it her own. She’s able to dip and dive through the classics as well as her own penned songs; and she’s even great at covering well known tracks like a Bob Marley or Stevie Wonder tune.
Kidjo is the master of all she surveys. Adept at covering The Rolling Stones, Curtis Mayfield or Bob Marley, she is just as talented at singing her own music or performing a duet. Her live shows are something to behold and she’s also been a great ambassador of World Music in that she’s brought people from all over into her music.
Like her father did, Anoushka has gone beyond just playing Sitar music. She has worked an array of great musicians, like Karsh Kale, Sting and even rapper M.I.A. Each new undertaking she has taken on, she’s done so masterfully.
Monica da Silva:
Part of the duo Complicated Animals, da Silva has the voice that transcends both Brazilian and American Folk/Pop. She floats easily between singing in Portuguese and English and just as easily singing covers (like Lou Reed’s “Walk on the Wild Side”) or taking on the Indie/Folk that makes them stand out. I see great things for Complicated Animals.
The four women who make up the band come from all over Latin America and they are able to blend all sorts of styles into their music. Plus, while on tour, they often hold fundraisers and workshops that encourage women in music-making, sound design, composition and audio production. They also address gender inequality and unequal representation of women in all aspects of music education, industry and business. They try to build community through music. But most of all—they’ve put out some great music.
Eljuri & Ceci Bastida:
Known for her blazing guitar playing, Eljuri is also an outspoken advocate for female and human rights. Most recently, she played the Women’s march in DC. Her style is all her own and she’s able to back up her poetic tunes with some amazing guitar work. As for Ceci Bastida, she’s also an outspoken musician who, when she’s not with the Morrissey cover band Mexrrissey, she’s going solo with some amazing work.
A Different Spin
In this episode, I’ll continue the Women who Rock theme by having an interview with the author Stacy Russo. She recently put out a book called “We Were Going to Change the World: Interviews with Women from the 1970s and 1980s Southern California Punk Rock Scene.” Now, what does this have to do with World Music? Well, nothing really. But it’s a great book to read if you were ever interested in this scene. And, I grew up in Southern California at the time these women were in the scene.
The standout about the women in these interviews is that they jumped into the scene—even at young ages and made their own way, whether it was by picking up a camera, grabbing a guitar or starting a fanzine. Plus, many of the women at the time were treated equally. It’s an interesting parallel to the #MeToo movement.
The World Music Show airs Saturday night from 8 to 10pm on 88.9WCVE Richmond Public Radio. Get Twitter updates @wcveworldmusic and on Facebook at The World Music Show on WCVE. Stream the show and get track listings via this website.