Kuching, Tuesday – Three renowned performers from the continent of Africa will be performing in this year’s Rainforest World Music Festival, namely Pat Thomas & Kwashibu Area Band from Ghana, Derek Gripper from South Africa and Krar Collective from Ethiopia, will bring with them exotic music steeped in traditions.
Pat Thomas was awarded with ‘The Golden Voice of Africa’ in 1978 and has gone on to produce independent music as well as collaborations with other legendary African artistes like Ebo Taylor and Tony Allen, who are pioneers of Afro-beat music.
Thomas’ new album with the Kwashibu Area Band marks over 50 years making music, with Ebo Taylor, Tony Allen, Osei Tutu and Ralph Karikari featuring in the tracks, while a younger generation of artistes such as bassist Emmanuel Ofori, percussionist “Sunday” Owusu and Pat Thomas’ daughter Nana Yaa, an acclaimed vocalist in her own right, taking part in the production.
Representing South Africa is Derek Gripper, who released his award winning ninth album “One Night on Earth: Music from the Strings of Mali” late in 2012, which was recorded in an all-night session where he interpreted ‘Kora’ (21 string harp) compositions.
The album conjures anew a centuries-old ancient African musical heritage, and was a feat which classical guitar legend John Williams said he thought was “absolutely impossible until I heard Derek Gripper do it.”
When Kora maestro, Toumani Diabate heard these recordings he asked his producer, Lucy Duran to confirm that she had actually seen one person play this music on just one guitar, and when it was confirmed he immediately invited Derek to collaborate with him in Mali.
From East Africa, the Krar Collective will represent Ethiopia with their dynamic and colourful traditional music from across one of Africa’s most diverse countries with a musical culture that is ancient and rich, reflecting its place as a meeting point between Africa and the Middle East.
The three-man band consists Temesgen Zeleke on the ‘krar lyre’, Grum Begashaw on drums and vocalist Genet Assefa.
Temesgen Zeleke is a revolutionary ‘krar lyre’ player who as a young student was mentored by Ethio-jazz legend Mulatu Astatke, developing a contemporary plugged-in style that transforms the 6-stringed lyre into an ancient virtuoso rock guitar.
Grum Begashaw provides the backbeat for the Collective on his double-headed kebero drum, setting the tone and driving the incredible dancing that inevitably spreads to the audience at a Krar Collective show.
The fiery vocal can only be attributed to front woman Genet Assefa, a former runaway who has since made a life for herself as an Ethiopian singer, where she interprets well-known Ethiopian songs with a ululating voice full of personality.
This year’s Festival is being held on August 5-7 and offers a treasure trove of music, arts, crafts and food from all corners of the globe, with nightly performances from 26 performers and over 23 workshops as well as various day-long cultural stalls spread over the course of three days.
Festival tickets and updates are now available online or from the ticketing agents listed at www.rwmf.net, with pre-sale prices available until August 4.
The weekend event has been voted as one of the top 25 World Music Festivals by Songlines Magazine for six years in a row and is supported by the Ministry of Tourism and Culture Malaysia, Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture Sarawak (MTAC) and endorsed by Tourism Malaysia with Malaysia Airlines Berhad as the presenting sponsor.
Picture below shows Pat Thomas from Pat Thomas & Kwashibu Area Band from Ghana, Derek Gripper from South Africa, and Krar Collective’s from Ethiopia.
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