Rahim AlHaj was born in Baghdad, Iraq and began playing the oud at age nine. Early on, it was evident that he had a remarkable talent for playing the instrument. Rahim studied under the renowned Munir Bashir and Salim Abdul Kareem at the Institute of Music in Baghdad, Iraq. One of the true Iraqi oud masters, AlHaj's music delicately combines traditional Iraqi maqams with contemporary styling and inﬂuence. His songs establish new concepts without altering the foundation of the traditional Iraqi School of oud. Rahim has toured the world with his mentor Munir Bashir, as a soloist, with percussion accompaniment and with string quartet. He has performed with symphony orchestras, shared stages with such global music contemporaries as Natasha Atlas, Lila Downs, Thomas Mapfumo, and Bill Frisell and has recorded with Amjad Ali Khan, Bill Frisell, Peter Buck (REM), Liu Fang, Robert Mirabal, Ottmar Liebert and scores of others. Rahim has garnered many awards since his many as a student at the Institute of Music, Baghdad including two Grammy Nominations, his most recent in 2010. In December 2009 he was awarded a US Artist Ford Fellowship Grant. in 2015 he was awarded the National Endowment for the Arts National Heritage Fellowship, the USA's highest honor bestowed on traditional musicians.
Ani is a darling of the world music scene: founding member and drummer for the celebrated Mexican rock band Pistolera, as well as fronting her own critically-lauded bilingual band, Cordero, which was in the vanguard of the Brooklyn’s burgeoning arts/rock scene, and released two full-length albums for Bloodshot Records. Ani also plays drums in the NYC rock group, Tuff Sunshine and the cello-rock group, Rasputina. Ani has toured extensively and appeared on many stages as singer and drummer, from Radio City Music Hall to Montreal Jazz Festival, and in Europe.
Ani was born to Puerto Rican parents from San Juan and the town of Camuy. She grew up in both the states and on the island, surrounded by music. In her teens in Atlanta, Georgia, Ani found a friend and mentor in Dr. Juan Allende, nephew of Chilean President, Salvador Allende, who was overthrown in a military coup d’état in 1973. She was inspired by the “Nueva Cancion” artists who were exiled or killed because of their music’s message of democracy and social justice, such as Victor Jara (1932-1973), and Violeta Parra (1917-1967).
A 21st century mash-up of the thunderous grooves of northeastern Brazil with the strolling swagger of New Orleans via NYC, Nation Beat is a NYC-Brazilian collision that parades with an infectious, audacious energy, seamlessly bridging folkloric Brazilian rhythms with classic American roots music in an altogether creative and original manner.
Funk. Bop. Rock. Pounded by calloused hands; blasted by tightened lips. It calls across time and continents - with a response from hips and feet. It’s the force that blew through Louis Armstrong in the twenties. It’s the power that gets Brazilians swinging in the streets for carnival.
As only could happen in today’s shrinking world, Nation Beat singularly conjures up this elemental musical mojo, drawing on the wellsprings of rhythm that lit up jazz and got maracatu thundering. Nation Beat takes off with be-bop-via-Brazil drumming; propelled by percussive bursts of New Orleans-flavored brass. But forget the musical history; this is music to move you.
NOHE & SUS SANTOS
Featuring musicians from Honduras, México and the US, Nohe & Sus Santos is a band to watch. Formed in 2018 by celebrated Honduran vocalist and songwriter Nohelia Sosa, along with veteran guitarist Randy Sanchez, the band is rounded out by the heavy hitting rhythm section of drummer Rafael Herrera and bassist Justin Bransford.
From cumbia to Alternative rock en espanol, to Pop grooves and beyond, accentuated with stabbing, sensual guitar lines, supple bass and percussion - and that voice! At once powerful, sultry, and alluring, celebrated Honduran vocalist Nohelia Sosa completes a group of fabuloso musicians that can only be described as excitingly fresh, possessing a distinctive style that is all its own. Nohe & Sus Santos delivers a fresh LatinX vibe full of soul, passion and attitude.
"...The closest analogy for Dula’s powerhouse mix is Angelique Kidjo in the first flush of her earlier exuberance. Soulful, stirring, sharp and sassy, Dula is a new African voice to rank alongside the very best." - Songlines
Born and raised in Luanda, Angola, activist, singer-songwriter, percussionist and dancer, Vivalda Dula has become one of the voices of the new generation of musicians creating a significant cultural and international impact on today's Angolan music scene. She is multi-award winning, nominated/finalist of StarAfrica Sound, International Songwriting Competition, Angola Music Awards and Akademia Music Awards. Dula sings mostly about love and social inequality, particularly in Angola. Vivalda also works tirelessly at raising social awareness against child labor, modern slavery, and human trafficking as reflected in her award-nominated songs “Mázui” ("Voices") and "Monandengue" ("Children").
Fanfara Station is a trance-inducing celebration with a brass band, an entire North African rhythm section and pumping electro dance beats setting the pace – all created by just three musicians, thanks to some skillful use of loop stations and live overdubbing of an arsenal of instruments.
Fanfara Station is also an intoxicating dance party, replete with a funky musical and rhythmic mix of the cultures from the African diaspora, southern Europe, the Middle East, the Maghreb and the Americas.
What to get when you mix a pinch of surrealism, a bit of modern folklore, a heaping helping of talharpa revival /rebellion and blend it together through effect blocks and loopers? The answer is the neo-zombie-post-folk Estonian duo Puuluup! Ramo Teder (aka Pastacas) and Marko Veisson have virtually resurrected the ancient talharpa (bowed lyre), popular in Northern Europe since the early middle ages and played on Western Estonian islands until the beginning of 20th century. But this is not an ethnomusicological romp. Puuluup directs the vibrations of the talharpa’s horsehair strings through effects, using alternative bowing and rhythm techniques. The mellow sighs of talharpa are paired with electronically amplified echoes, knocks, creaks and crackles, while still maintaining the instrument’s natural sound. And it is all presented with a unique sense of humor and originality: They play with music as they play with words, sometimes creating their own language.
As the duo states: “We draw inspiration from Vormsi nights, trams in November, junkies in love, criminals from Odessa and Antonio Vivaldi.” Indeed.
RAHIM ALHAJ and SAHBA MOTALLEBI
An evening of intense and timely musical dialogue between oud and tar and Iraq and Iran featuring Iraqi oud maestro, composer, NEA National Heritage Fellow and two-time Grammy nominee Rahim AlHaj iin collaboration with the amazing Iranian tar virtuoso Sahba Motallebi. Musical selections range from AlHaj's and Motallebi's original compositions to innovative arrangements of Kurdish, Iranian and Iraqi traditional music.