Archive for December, 2013

Dec
30


Amira Sings Sevdah at WOMEX 2013 from Michal Shapiro on Vimeo.

Sevdah, or Sevdalinka, is a folk song form with origins tracing back to Ottoman times, particularly in Bosnia and now common throughout the former Yugoslavia in the various Bosnian enclaves. These songs have been handed down, over the 5 centuries, and are still a part of the culture, and of late, new interpretations have arisen, placing these musical jewels into new settings. Although many of these melodies may have originally been sung a capella, it was also traditional for many years for the singer to simply be accompanied by a saz, or lute. To hear what this sounded like, check out the impeccable Emina Zecaj at: youtube.com/watch?v=2LJVyc7MEZQ

Amira is certainly one of the best known of the new generation of Sevdah artists. Raised in Bosnia-Herzegovina, she learned most of the songs in her repertoire from her mother. She also displays the kind of bel canto interpretation that characterizes the form. Sevdah is not meant to be shouted or bluesy. Microtones may have possibly been an element at one point, but over time, what has remained are the sinuous lines and vaguely unresolved ends of melodies. It is a sophisticated, perfumed medium conveying longing, regret, and emotions unrequited. If this reminds you of the Portuguese saudade, you are not at all far off! The two words are actually related.

Amira sings a straight-ahead Sevdah. It is her backup band that sets her presentation apart, playing a jazz informed backup that never overwhelms the passionate reading of the songs.

“Zemi Me Zemi” is a song from South Serbia, and as Amira writes: “Both flirtatious and threatening, this song is an illustration of how a great desire can, if spurned, easily turn into hatred. How dangerous can love be?

“Take me, marry me, why don’t you take me?
If you marry anyone, it’s me you should marry!
If you do not, then God will take you!”

To contact Amira: mirza.dedic@icloud.com
For more about Amira: amiramedunjanin.ba




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Dec
09


Canadian Heat: The April Verch band at WOMEX 2013 from Michal Shapiro on Vimeo.

If I didn’t tell you up front that April Verch and her band are playing from the musical heritage of the Ottawa Valley, you might assume that she is from the American South, or Appalachia, or even New England. The music seems so familiar; part bluegrass, part old timey, part contradance. And as she herself said of her dancing during her concert: “..this music originated in the lumber camps. And a lot of people when they see this, they recognize a lot of different dance styles; Irish hardshoe, French Canadian, even clogging or flatfooting… tap dancing in more recent years….if you see any of these dances you’re probably right, there’s bits and pieces of everything.” What this goes to show is that Canada, as much as the United States is a country built from immigrants, and each ethnicity has brought something to the musical mix. And we hear and see those influences and recognize them right away.

Verch is a wonderful fiddler. She has a rich tone, and a great bowing arm, and a smile that never quits when she plays. She is obviously enjoying herself tremendously. And when she started dancing, she lifted the highly critical WOMEX audience right out of their seats. One of the photographers there confided to me that he was exhausted, just from watching her….but in a good way. As for her dancing, it is polished, exciting, and delivered with that same grin. No wonder her management was mobbed afterwards.

Please make sure to watch this video all the way through, as otherwise you may miss Ms. Verch playing AND dancing simultaneously. She credits the late great John Hartford with inspiring her, and that is easy to see. Her backup band consists of Cody Walters on banjo and bass, and Hayes Griffin on guitar—and they all sing.

To contact April: aprilverch.com




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Dec
05


The song is called “E Asiye” sung in the Laz language. It speaks of love.




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Michal
Welcome!

Here’s where you’ll find my weekly original world music video blogs that appear on Huffington Post, as well as an archive starting in April of 2009.

This is also the place where you will find video that is exclusive to my site. I’ve traveled to places like Uzbekistan, Morocco, and Taiwan and no matter where I go I have found amazingly talented and creative people working in every genre from the deepest traditions to the cutting edge.

It’s been incredibly rewarding to interview them and to capture some of what they do on video. Enjoy what you see and hear, and let me know what you think. I welcome your feedback.

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