Editor-in-chief Simon Broughton Publisher & Managing Director Paul Geoghegan Editor Jo Frost Contributing Editor & West Africa Content Writer Nigel Williamson Deputy Editor & Reviews Editor Alexandra Petropoulos Art Director Juliet Boucher Advertisement Manager James Anderson-Hanney Online Content Editor James McCarthy Sub-Editor & Writer Spencer Grady Sub-Editor Emma Baker Marketing & Digital Strategy Director Luca Da Rè Marketing Manager John Barnett Marketing Assistant Emma Coull Cover Image Illustration Paulina Stopka Content & Cover Imagery Adobe Stock (Flags Richard Laschon, Maps Pyty, Textural Designs Marina Zlochin) Subscriptions Director Sally Boettcher Editorial Director Martin Cullingford CEO Ben Allen Chairman Mark Allen SUBSCRIPTIONS UK: 0800 137 201 Overseas: +44 (0)1722 716997 subscriptions@markallengroup.com

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Songlines is published by MA Music Leisure & Travel Ltd St Jude’s Church, Dulwich Rd, London, SE24 0PB, UK +44 (0)20 7738 5454 info@songlines.co.uk www.songlines.co.uk © MA Music Leisure & Travel Ltd, 2021. All rights reserved. No part of Songlines may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise without prior written permission of the publishing director. The views expressed do not necessarily represent those of the editor or Songlines advertisements in the journal do not imply endorsement of the products or services advertised. Please read our privacy policy, by visiting http:// privacypolicy.markallengroup.com. This will explain how we process, use and safeguard your data. ISSN 1464-8113. Printed by: Pensord Press Ltd, Blackwood, NP12 2A Record trade distribution Songlines 020 7738 5454 Newstrade distribution Marketforce 0203 787 9101


West Africa calling!

Since the first edition of Songlines over 20 years ago, West African artists have featured on the front cover of the magazine more than any other region – 50 and counting. From globally famous superstars such as Fela Kuti, Angélique Kidjo and Tinariwen, to the less well-known artists including the likes of Mauritanian singer Noura Mint Seymali, Bombino from Niger and Lura from Cape Verde. Regardless of their international recognition, they have all been instrumental in making West African music a force to be reckoned with and the reason for its populari¤ worldwide.

So, what is it about West Africa that makes it such a musical powerhouse? Well, this is something we’ve been exploring in Songlines since 1999 and why we decided to make West Africa the subject of this special edition. Over the course of these 100 pages our loyal and longstanding contributing editor and African music devotee Nigel Williamson has written an introduction to each country that examines the history and the events that have shaped its music scene; its various musical traditions and instruments and the leading artists past and present. We’ve painstakingly gone through the extensive Songlines reviews archive to select the best recordings from each country – only allowing one album per artist – as well as picking archive articles that showcase some of the artists we’ve featured in the magazine. We also have two exclusive opinion pieces: the Ghanaian musician, filmmaker and activist Wanlov the Kubolor gives his candid view on the issues affecting musicians in the region today, and Mali-based journalist Bram Posthumus reports on how music, politics, business and religion are all inextricably connected.

Music, politics, business and religion are all

inextricably connected

My own voyage into the music of West Africa dates back to 1988 when I attended Amnes¤ International’s Human Rights Now! concert at Wembley Stadium, primarily because I was a fan of the headliners Bruce Springsteen and Peter Gabriel. But it was a young singer from Senegal, bursting with energy and with an incredible voice, who le« an indelible impression on me. That singer was Youssou N’Dour, now a global star and one of the artists who has featured on the cover of Songlines more than any other. Another artist who made a huge impact when I first heard her in the 90s was the ‘barefoot diva’ from Cape Verde – Cesaria Evora. I’m fairly certain I hadn’t a clue where to pinpoint Cape Verde on the map prior to hearing Cesaria’s gravelly, melancholic voice, but that first encounter prompted an abiding love of the music from this cluster of islands in the Atlantic Ocean. These are just two examples of how a musical discovery can send you off on a journey – I’m sure many of you have had similar epiphanies. So whether it’s the languid, hypnotic groove of a Touareg guitar band or the cascading notes of the kora that first ignited your interest, I hope this guide will entice you to delve deeper into the multitude of artists and s¤les and enhance your appreciation of the music of West Africa.

Finally, it is worth mentioning that this special edition is, of course, by no means intended as a ‘definitive guide,’ as the musical landscape is constantly shi«ing, with new s¤les being created and fresh talent emerging. But we do hope that it will offer plen¤ of inspiration for both the cognoscenti and novices among you.

Jo Frost, editor

Songlines was launched in 1999 and is the definitive magazine for world music – music that has its roots in all parts of the globe, from Mali to Mexico, India to Iraq. Whether this music is defined as traditional, contemporary, folk or fusion, Songlines is the only magazine to truly represent and embrace it. However, Songlines is not just about music, but about how the music fits into the landscape; it’s about politics, history and identi¤. Delivered in both print and digital formats, Songlines, through its extensive articles and reviews, is your essential and independent guide to a world of music and culture, whether you are starting on your journey of discovery or are already a seasoned fan.