Female instrumentalists at an online concert

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Female instrumentalists at an online concert


Ghanaian percussionist Abigail Teye will be part of a group of female instrumentalists from across Africa showcasing their talents on the 11th International Jazz Day this weekend. PICTURES | BOWL

Summary

  • A group of these exceptional female musicians from across Africa will showcase their talents at a special international concert organized by UNESCO to celebrate the 11th International Jazz Day this weekend.
  • The second edition of the JazzWomenAfrica concert will be broadcast online on Friday, April 30, 2022, to counter the under-representation and insufficient recognition of women in the music industry.

A generation of female instrumentalists in Africa has emerged, breaking cultural norms, whether they play modern instruments like the guitar, bass and saxophone, or those culturally reserved for men like the West African kora, or closer from us, the nyatiti.

A group of these exceptional female musicians from across Africa will showcase their talents at a special international concert organized by UNESCO to celebrate the 11th International Jazz Day this weekend.

The second edition of the JazzWomenAfrica concert will be broadcast online today (Saturday, April 30, 2022), to counter the under-representation and insufficient recognition of women in the music industry.

This performance by a select group of female instrumentalists will also be part of the flagship event of International Jazz Day, the All-Star Global Concert taking place at UN General Hall in New York.

Last year, the first edition of JazzWomenAfrica featured performances and discussions with female artists and producers, including Kenyan trumpeter Christine Kamau. She is also the founder of the Women in Music forum which also draws on the experiences and challenges faced by female artists across Africa.

This year’s concert is the result of an artist residency organized in Casablanca, Morocco in November 2021, by Anya Music, a Moroccan cultural company, which brought together seven jazz fusion performers: Ghanaian percussionist Abigail Narkie Teye, Laura Prince an interpreter from Togo, the Malian guitarist Mounaissa and Nelida Karr, also a guitarist from Equatorial Guinea.

The show will feature three Senegalese artists, Maah Keita, bassist and activist for people living with albinism, and her compatriots, composer and performer Mariaa Sigaa and kora player Senny Camara.

Each of these women has an exceptional musical ability and an inspiring background. Maah Keita, one of the few female bassists in Africa and the only one in her country, Senegal, learned the guitar with the support of her brothers and the few female bassists she was able to contact in the world.

She played with her brothers in the family group Takeifa from 2006 to 2018, recorded three albums and performed in several venues across Europe.

They have become one of the most popular young bands in Dakar and have performed alongside legends like Alpha Blondy, Femi Kuti, Tiken Jah Fakoly and their illustrious compatriot Baaba Maal.

Maah Keita is a champion for the rights of women and people like her living with albinism, having founded the organization Care Albinos, which provides medical assistance to people with skin cancer.

Another outstanding Senegalese musician in the group is Mariaa Sagaa (Mariama Siga Goudiaby), a young artist, composer and performer from the southwestern region of Casamance.

She combines traditional rhythms with contemporary sounds like reggae, blues and jazz and has gained an international reputation since the release of her debut album “Asekaw” (Woman) in 2019.

Composer and kora player Senny Camara completes the trio of Senegalese musicians for the JazzWomenAfrica concert. She’s a fiercely independent performer who broke cultural norms by playing the kora, the 21-string harp traditionally reserved for male musicians.

She played in an orchestra in Dakar performing American and Afro-Cuban jazz, classical music and pop.

There are musicians from other parts of West Africa on the showcase, Mounaissa, a member of the Kaladjoula Band, and a group of female instrumentalists from Mali. One of the first female guitarists in her country, she also plays drums and has played for several orchestras in Mali.

Another guitarist, Nelida Karr, known as the “Diva of Equatorial Guinea”, has been playing instruments since the age of 15 and combines guitar with piano and percussion.

Her music is a fusion of jazz and Afro-Cuban music and she is best remembered for her rendition of the official anthem of the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations football championships which took place in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea.

Abigail Narkie Teye plays five different types of drums from her native Ghana: Agbadja, Kpanlogo, Fontomfrom, Obonu and Gome while Laura Prince is a Togolese performer, author, composer who studied music at the University of Paris.

The pianist and violinist cites a wide range of influences, from the Cuban salsa of Celia Cruz to the Afrobeat of Fela Kuti and Makossa of Manu Dibango, including blues, jazz and classical music.

On the eve of the concert, female artists and producers will discuss solutions to the biggest challenges facing female jazz artists in Africa.

These include access to global platforms that promote their work and provide the younger generation of artists with role models who can help break down the stereotypes that hinder their development in the music industry.


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