Category Archives: World Music

Sons of Kemet: Your Queen Is a Reptile

by Marshall Bowden

In the acknowledgments of his book Cut ‘N Mix: Culture and Identity in Carribean Music, Dick Hebdige notes that

“In his book There Ain’t No Black In The Union Jack, Paul Gilroy has suggested that music functions within the culture of the black diaspora as an alternative public sphere. Sometimes a reggae toast or soul rap might consist of little more than a list of names or titles. Naming can be in and of itself an act of invocation, conferring power and/or grace upon the namer: the names can carry power in themselves. The titles bestowed on Halile Selassie in a Rastafarian chant or a reggae toast or on James Brown or Aretha Franklin in a soul or MC rap testify to this power. More importantly in this context, the namer pays tribute in the ‘name check’ to the community from winch (s)he has sprung and without which (s)he would be unable to survive.”

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Luciana Souza: The New Bossa Nova

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by Marshall Bowden

Read Luciana Souza: The Book of Longing

Listening to Luciana Souza on The New Bossa Nova reminds one of the best elements of bossa, the music that American jazz musicians and listeners fell in love with some fifty years ago. Souza’s voice is so tightly focused, free of distracting embellishments or unnecessary ornamentation, that one can listen to it quite apart from the words, as one would the melodic line of a great instrumentalist. Of course, the voice is truly the most intimate of all instruments, because it is created by the singer’s own body and because it is capable of transmitting meaning not only in melodic or harmonic terms, but also in words.

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Luciana Souza: The Book of Longing

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Read Luciana Souza: The New Bossa Nova

by Marshall Bowden

Luciana Souza is a singer who takes more than a passing interest in the words that she is singing. Previous projects have revolved around poetry and literature: The Poems of Elizabeth Bishop and Other Songs (2000) and Neruda (2004) were based, respectively, on the work of Elizabeth Bishop, an American poet who lived in Brazil for nearly two decades and Chilean poet Pablo Neruda.

Souza’s newest album, The Book of Longing takes its title from Leonard Cohen’s 2006 collection of poetry. She sets the titular poem to music in a track called “The Book.” She adapts Cohen’s tribute to departed singer Carl Anderson, “Nightingale” as “Night Song.” She also takes on Edna St. Vincent Millay’s “Alms”, a sweet melancholy poem about the seasons of love, Emily Dikinson’s “We Grow Accustomed to the Dark,” and Rosetti’s “Remember.” And there are four of Luciana’s own lyrics set to music that is conceived and arranged by her.

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