In honor of Sunday’s Global Village organized by AIESEC, here is a list of the best music of the cultures represented by Northwestern’s student groups at the event, plus a few others, that is sure to give you a global experience.
Kitka, “Ne Po Pogrebu Bochonochek Kataetsja”
This song is a Russian folk tune but it has a modern hip-hop feel to it. The lyrics about a young couple downstairs in the cellar doing some things their parents probably wouldn’t approve of is also timeless and cross-cultural.
Maria Rita, “O Homem Falou”
São Paulo, Brazil singer Maria Rita began singing professionally in her twenties with the help of her mother, Brazilian pop singer Elis Regina. Her vocal style is based on those of great Jazz singers like Ella Fitzgerald. Between 2004 and 2008, Rita won six Latin Grammy Awards. “O Homem Falou” is great for parties.
Miriam Makeba, “Beware Verwoerd (Naants’ Indod’Emnyama)”
It’s the late, great South African singer Miriam Makeba. What other reason do you need? The cheerfulness of the music doesn’t portray the message of the lyrics which say “Beware Verwoerd, here are the black people!” It was sung to protest Hendrik Verwoerd, Prime Minister of South Africa from 1958-1966 who is today considered the “architect of apartheid”.
Bulgarian State Radio & Television Female Vocal Choir, “Erghan Diado (Song of Schopsko)”
The Bulgarian State Radio & Television Female Vocal Choir is an internationally renowned ensemble that became widely known when they released a pair of anthology albums on the alternative English record label in 1986 and 1988, but their recordings date back to 1957. Like “Ne Po Pogrebu,” “Erghan Diado” is sung by a choir of women and contains some brilliant dissonances that, combined with the forceful vocal tone, have a very powerful effect on the listener.
Nagoya Children’s Choir & Shunji Mizutani, “Hotaru Koi”
“Hotaru Koi” is great for your imagination. This Japanese song is echoing and dynamically swelling when performed correctly. The lyrics are about a firefly exploring the night and hiding during the day. The musical arrangement imitates the sight of hundreds of fireflies lighting up the darkness at different times.
Absynthe Minded, “Envoi”
There are indie bands in countries other than America. Absynthe Minded is an indie rock band from Belgium that sings in English. An “envoi” is a short stanza at the end of a poem. This song is all about poetry and the creative process of writing.
Julie Fowlis, “Hug Air A’ Bhonaid Mhoir”
You’ve probably heard Irish Gaelic before, but did you know that there is also Scottish Gaelic? Julie Fowlis is a folk singer from North Uist, a small island in the Outer Hebrides, who sings in Scottish Gaelic. With a title that translates to “Celebrate the great bonnet!” this song is energetic and a lot of fun.
Hanggai, “Xiger Xiger”
You probably haven’t heard throat singing before. Hanggai is a Chinese folk music group from Beijing who specialize in blending Mongolian folk music with more modern styles like punk rock. Lead singer Ilchi traveled to inner Mongolia to learn about his ethnic heritage and learn the art of throat singing, a form of overtone chanting or harmonic singing. “Hanggai” in Mongolian refers to an ideal natural landscape with sprawling grasslands, mountains, rivers, trees and blue skies.
Angelique Kidjo, “Awan N’la”
Why you should listen: If you haven’t heard of Angelique Kidjo, you need to now. “Awan N’La” is like all of Kidjo’s songs, mixing styles from around the world while remaining essentially African in inspiration and execution. Kidjo is a Grammy Award-winning Beninoise singer-songwriter who has collaborated with everyone from Alicia Keys to Josh Groban to Ziggy Marley. Kidjo is fluent in Fon, French, Yorùbá, and English and sings in all four languages. She is also widely involved in philanthropy, promoting education for girls in Africa and traveling the world as a UNICEF Goodwill ambassador.