March 6, 2005

African Treasures


  • Brenda -- A couple of quick notes on great musical discoveries to pass on. My favorite musician lately is Brenda Fassie, the late South African funk and pop singer -- one of the all-time funkiest and most soulful singers in the world -- amazing stuff. The CD pictured above features her song "Black President" about Nelson Mandela -- God what a song! It rejoices his emergence from jail and his taking of his place as leader of the country, but it was recorded before Mandela was released. "I will sing for my president, I would die for my president..." Wow! How great it must be to have a leader you can feel that much for! That disk also has a priceless duet with Bob Marley on it. An even better and larger collection that also includes "Black President" is Queen of African Pop: Greatest Hits. Brenda was named after Brenda Lee, and started her recording career when she was a teenager. She's in the incomparable zone, one of a very few with pipes and a soul reservoir that can be spoken of in the same breath as the incomparable Aretha Franklin. For more on Brenda, see or News24
  • Uncle Rex -- Much less well known and still living is Uncle Rex, a phenomenal guitarist I discovered in Zambia. His CD Fingerspeech has the power of a cinder block against the forehead. It is a great piece of work. His style spans from delicate fingerpicking, to all-out crying electric lead guitar. He's an amazingly articulate guitarist and his mastery of the guitar palette is comprehensive and authoritative. And he's also the nicest, humblest man you could hope to meet. He's won several African music awards and I suppose the time is coming when he will be known in America, like Antonio Carlos Jobim or Hugh Masekela. But for now he's my secret. (I'll tell you though.)

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