10 November 2005

The Kora Awards: Invitation to Explore Africa

World map depicting AfricaImage via WikipediaThe finalists for the 2005 Kora Music Awards (the 10th annual!) are now posted. After a brief infatuation with world music awards, I've backed off a bit. Well, a lot. I've gained a bit of perspective that awards ceremonies in other countries/regions can be just as shallow and commercialized as those in the USA. Still, I find the lists of nominees a very useful starting point for finding out about new artists (and artists that are simply new to me). And the Kora Awards serve as a reality check that the African music that makes it to a USA release is not necessarily the African music being enjoyed by Africans. So check out the nominees - of the 96 finalists, I know perhaps a dozen of them. So I've got some research to do.

The awards are preceeded by the Kora Festival Dec. 1 & 2 and a Dec. 3 fashion show showcasing "Africa’s glamour through haute couture." The Kora Awards ceremony will take place on December 4th, and will be broadcast worldwide.

If you want to participate, you can vote via SMS for these categories (voting info):
1) Artiste of the Decade
2) Best West African Male Artiste
3) Best West African Female Artiste
4) Best East African Female Artiste
5) Best East African Male Artiste
6) Best Southern African Female Artiste
7) Best Southern African Male Artiste
8) Best Central African Male Artiste
9) Best Central African Female Artiste

And of course, my skepticism about commercialized world music awards doesn't discourage me in the least from working on my own "Best of 2005" World Music listing - watch this space for details. If you want to nominate your own favorite "world music" artist, song, or album of 2005, post a comment or email me.


Speaking of African music, I was a little saddened but not surprised to read of the decision by Miriam Makeba to stop touring after one last world tour. I was fortunate enough to be front-row to see her at the now-defunct WOMAD USA, and her energy electrified the place. Last month she performed a couple shows in Havana, and said of "world music":
I don’t believe that there would be rhythm without Africa. Now we are called World music, and I ask myself, where are the rest from then? We are all of the world. In real terms they want to say Third World music. It’s the same as when they called us underdeveloped countries and now courteously we are in development. That’s how it is.
In honor of Mama Africa's long (and continuing - she says she'll keep recording as long as she can sing) musical career, here's a track she recorded while in exile from South Africa, just after returning to Africa in 1968.

Miriam Makeba: "Jeux Interdits (Forbidden Games)"
from the CD The Guinea Years

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