African Lullabies

This Rough Guide features a whole host of sweet tempered songs from different corners of Africa. The music gently rocks listeners away in to blissful deep dreams with relaxing songs from Ethiopia, Mali, Zimbabwe and more.

South African a capella vocal group Ladysmith Black Mambazo are renowned for their velvety smooth harmonies and rich tone colours. On ‘Mbube (Wimoweh – The Lion Sleeps Tonight)’ the group sing out their seminal version of the well known African folksong. On ‘Malaika’ Miriam Makeba or ‘Mama Africa’ as she is affectionately known grooves along with her signature expressive vocals, slowly swinging percussion and tentatively trembling guitar lines. A worthy idol in every sense of the word, Makeba was a key player in South Africa’s anti-apartheid movement and the civil rights movements.

Cape Verdean Sara Tavares exposes her beautifully silky smooth voice on ‘Guisa’. Melancholic jazzy vocals slink away against a resonant acoustic guitar part with soulful emotion. The Somalian musician Saba intones her version of a traditional ancient lullaby on ‘Huwaiahuwa’. The track ‘Mother’s Love’ features Ethiopian-born composer and pianist Emahoy Tsegue-Maryam Guebrou.

Stringed African instruments feature heavily on this album. Whether they are plucked, picked, frayed or strummed the collection spotlights a diverse array of music beautifully punctuated with flexing and releasing strings. Malian Ngoni maestro Bassekou Kouyaté appears with his ensemble Ngoni Ba on ‘Tabali Te’. Infamous kora player Toumani Diabate and the celebrated desert blues guitarist Ali Farka Touré contribute a lilting instrumental duet on track ‘Simbo’. The kora-led four pieces band Ba Cissoko from Guinea rock gently away on ‘Manssani’.

The bonus disc features instrumental mbira music from Virgina Mukwesha. The mbira is an ancient instrument from Zimbabwe. Mukwesha’s style produces soft humming tones that are pleasantly gentle in timbre and mood.