Saturday – Sunday, August 3 & 4, 2019.
African bands at Pickathon outside Portland: Mdou Moctar, Jupiter and Okwess, and Ibibio Sound Machine
Five musicians perform a contemporary form of music of Mali that they call “Trad Actual Malian Sound.” BKO Quintet brings together the electric urban club sound of Bamoko city with rural music, and combines the Mandinka griot tradition with music of the Bambara people. The quintet features two distinctive vocalists, Fassara Sacko and Nfali Diakite, with powerful percussionist Ibrahima Sarr on djembe goblet drum, master of the djeli ngoni string instrument Abdoulaye Kone, and drummer Aymeric Krol.
Don’t miss this year’s series at the Volunteer Park Amphitheater—fabulous and free! Bring a picnic and experience a musical journey.
Sona Jobarteh is a world-renowned Gambian musician with stunning mastery of the Kora, an incredible 21-stringed African harp that is capable of producing rich, lush melodies that resonate with delicious vibrancy. For the past seven centuries, the Kora and its mastery were passed down exclusively from father to son in griot families, a tradition that allows only males born into hereditary musical families to take up the family instrument professionally. Sona hails from a west African Griot family of renowned Kora musicians, but her undisputed mastery of the instrument broke through the male-dominated hereditary tradition and launched her on a path of international recognition.
Not only is Sona the first female Kora virtuoso, but her musicianship has garnered her a long list of accolades. In 2010, Sona was commissioned to compose a film score to the multi-award winning documentary film “The Motherland.” In 2011, Sona released her critically acclaimed album “Fasiya” (Heritage) and quickly found international success. The album, which established her reputation as a mature producer, features Sona playing instruments such as the Ngoni, flute, guitar, bass and percussion.
Sona is also admired for her beautiful voice, and in 2011 Hollywood film composer Alex Heffes invited her to perform as a solo vocalist in the soundtrack for the film “The First Grader.” Not only did Sona’s piece win “Discovery of the Year Prize” at the Hollywood World Soundtrack Awards in 2012, but she also performed it live in Belgium backed by a 80-piece orchestra. Sona’s rich vocal solo’s are also featured in the soundtrack for “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom” (2014) and in the Hollywood series “Roots” (2016), based on the 1976 novel by Alex Haley.
Sona has traveled the world headlining major festivals in Brazil, India, South Korea, Ghana, Mexico, Tanzania, Cote D’Ivoire, Lithuania, Poland, Germany and Malaysia, just to name a few. She has also lectured at universities in the UK, US, and Germany. Promoting the arts in The Gambia is also a top priority for Sona——in 2014, she began The Gambia Academy of Music and Culture, the first cultural academy in The Gambia. The project is gaining momentum and Sona is now revolving much of her career around this pioneering venture.
The 48th Annual Northwest Folklife Festival takes place at the Seattle Center. Among the thousands of performances are a number of African focused groups / presentations.
Seattle International Film Festival has a number of African films and films whose subject matter relates to Africa.
Check the Film Guide for titles, descriptions, venues, etc.
Woman Who Loves Giraffes, Yomeddine, Before the Vows, Another Day of Life, The Mercy of the Jungle, Kifaru, Fig Tree, EXT. Night, Urgent, Sakawa, Sew the Winter to My Skin
The Seattle World Percussion Society presents World Rhythm Festival 2019 at the Seattle Center (Armory and Mural Amphitheatre) 11am – 10pm. On the Armory main stage and in the workshops, there will be many different African groups including: Anzanga Marimba, Ati Sanna (Kenya), Iroko Percussion (West Africa), Djely Boka Kouyate, and Naby Camara. Free admission.
In the crowded scene of Tuareg guitarists, Mdou Moctar stands apart from his peers. Playing in
the repertoire of desert guitar popularized by groups like Tinariwen and Bombino, Mdou is
pushing the boundaries of the genre with a unique personal sound. With versatile compositions
and genre defying albums, Mdou’s music has been an underground success with an
international following, set on redefining the sound of the desert.
Mdou Moctar hails from a small village in the Azawagh desert of Niger, a remote region steeped
in religious tradition. As a child, he taught himself to play the a homemade guitars, cobbled
together out of planks of wood. It was years later before he found a “real” guitar, teaching
himself in secret. In an area where guitar music was all but prohibited, he quickly rose to the
status of local celebrity amongst the village youth.
In 2008 he traveled to Nigeria to record his first album “Anar.” A psychedelic reworking of the
Tuareg sound, the electronic tracks featured innovative pitch bending synths, drum machines,
and autotune. In 2010, he teamed up with the label and collective Sahel Sounds, releasing his
first international album, “Afelan.” In 2015, he co-wrote and starred in the first ever Tuareg
language film, “Rain the Color Blue with a Little Red In It,” a Saharan remake of Prince’s “Purple
Rain.” In 2017, he again shifted gears to another sound with “Sousoume Tamachek,” a mellow
blissed out recording evoking the calm desert soundscape, tackling religion, spirituality, and
matters of the heart.
In the past years, Tuareg rock music has gotten faster. There is a preference for this new style,
both in the raucous weddings of Agadez and in Berlin rock clubs. The wavering guitar solos,
rapid fire drums and heavy distortion has become characteristic of the contemporary sound.
Mdou takes on this challenge, but with an ear towards tradition. Rooted in traditional, with
borrowed polyrhythms of traditional « takamba » and lyrics sung in the style of old nomadic
poets, his guitar playing is wild and unrelenting, equal parts nomadic bard and Eddie Van Halen.
Mdou Moctar and his band have toured Europe and North America, playing sold out shows from
small DIY rock clubs in Portland to New York City’s Lincoln Center. His music has been featured
in the BBC, The Guardian, Pitchfork, New Yorker, L.A. Weekly, NPR, Rolling Stone, Les
Inrocks, and his film continues to be screened at film festivals around the world. From
underground star of Niger to international film star, Mdou Moctar has undoubtedly one of the
quickest rises to success.
Omar Sosa (piano, fender Rhodes, motif, electronics, vocals), Seckou Keita (kora, vocals) and Gustavo Ovalles (percussion). $30-38
Seattle Art Museum and One Vibe Africa are proud to present Kijiji Night. Kijiji Night brings together storytellers, poets, musicians, photographers, filmmakers, and community members of African descent residing in the Pacific Northwest as part of the Black History Month celebration. The 4th Annual event features a special album launch and tribute to Samini from Ghana. Gabriel Teodros from Seattle will also present a special performance. The evening will also feature storytelling by Nana Kibibi, and unlimited supply of authentic African food from various countries. Free entry, 6-9pm at SAM, 1300 First Avenue, Seattle. RSVP here: https://kijijinight2019.splashthat.com
The UW Department of Dance presents its annual Faculty Dance Concert, showcasing original work by nationally and internationally recognized faculty members Rachael Lincoln, Dr. Juliet McMains, and Alethea Alexander. This year's concert will also feature a collaborative new piece for large ensemble by Kawasaki Guest Artist Etienne Cakpo, and new work by internationally known choreographer Brian Brooks.