Exploring The World Music Field Nominees

Go inside the nominations in the Best World Music Album category for the 54th Annual GRAMMY Awards
  • Photo: Steve Granitz/WireImage.com
    Ladysmith Black Mambazo
  • Photo: Michelly Rall/WireImage.com
    Tinariwen's Ibrahim Ag Alhabib
  • Photo: Shirlaine Forrest/WireImage.com
    Femi Kuti
  • Photo: Samir Hussein/Getty Images
    AfroCubism's Bassekou Kouyate
January 21, 2012 -- 3:55 am PST

You've seen the list of nominees, now take a closer look at the artists nominated in the World Music Field for the 54th Annual GRAMMY Awards.

World music is nothing new, and, in a manner of speaking, all music is world music. Salsa, for example, can trace its roots back to Cuba, where the music of Spain and Africa, and to a lesser extent, Native America, co-existed due to the slave trade. Further back, the music of Spain has ancient ties to the rhythms of North Africa. Despite this cross-pollination, cultures all over the world still maintain their own unique character, even as they continue to morph into ever more interesting styles, some of which are represented by this year's nominees.

Best World Music Album

Paul Simon introduced Ladysmith Black Mambazo to the world when he enlisted them as backing vocalists on his GRAMMY-winning 1986 album Graceland. The collective is seeking their fourth career GRAMMY with Songs From A Zulu Farm, an album of traditional Zulu-sung children songs. The oldest son of Afrobeat legend Fela Kuti, Femi Kuti continues his father's tradition of radical music making with Africa For Africa. The album is ripe with a sonic stew that brings reggae, funk, hip-hop and other flavors to his bedrock Afrobeat rhythms. Producer Nick Gold planned a jam session of West African and Cuban musicians back in 1996; when the African musicians couldn't get visas, the Cuban musicians, along with guitarist Ry Cooder, recorded the GRAMMY-winning Buena Vista Social Club album. Nearly 15 years later, the African musicians came to Havana and the result is the eponymous AfroCubism, a collaboration featuring singer/guitarist Eliades Ocha, GRAMMY-winning kora master Toumani Diabate and other stellar musicians. Taureg nomads have roamed the deserts of Mali and Libya for centuries and waged a war for autonomy for more than two decades. In the early '80s, the Taureg men of Tinariwen picked up electric guitars, invited women to sing with them and started making music that spoke to their struggle. On Tassili, the band drops bits of rap, funk, rock, and blues into soulful desert music that features a hypnotic vocal interplay between the male and female voices and guitar work reminiscent of Ali Farka Touré and Jimmy Page.

Who will take home the award in the Best World Music Album? Tune in to the 54th Annual GRAMMY Awards on Feb. 12, taking place at Staples Center in Los Angeles and airing live on CBS from 8–11:30 p.m. (ET/PT).

(Note: The videos embedded reflect official videos available through official artist and record label Web channels.)


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