2.19.2011

SukiAfrica + The Wonders of Crossover Music


I was extremely delighted when I came across SukiAfrica Sukiyaki All Stars a few days ago, I had to share the love. When I'm not listening to Asian pop, I enjoy crossover music (these days I've discovered African cross-continent -and beyond- collaborations, for example Nigeria+Mozambique and Mali+Ivory Coast?, this North+West African mix is just a classic, Afrocubism drove me to tears).


The SukiAfrica initiative brings several musicians from different Africa countries and three leaders of Asian music renewal together. Merging these individuals brings a unique blend of musical styles and 'a new relation between Asia and Africa'. From the band's profile,
This idea of creating a new musical collaboration between artists from different cultures in Africa (Zimbabwe, Cameroon, Togo) and in Asia (Korea, Japan) was born during the Japanese festival 'Sukiyaki Meets The World'. 8 musicians have started to imagine a perfomance where each musical color takes its role and keeps its spirit, but shares it codes, meaning and creative backgrounds, in harmony.

During three weeks, living together in the small village of Nanto in Japan, they have exchanged and debated, practiced hard, shared. And been acclaimed during a remarkable tour in Japan and Korea.
SukiAfrica's members include Peter Solo (Togo), Chiwoniso (Zimbabwe), Erik Aliana (Cameroon), Sakaki Mango (Japan), Chang Jae Hyo (Korea), N'dana (Japan, @Hateya N'dana apparently has Ainu roots) and Chouchou Bass (Cameroon). The only person I know from the group is Chiwoniso, she is simply amazing. I adore her.

This month they toured through four African countries; South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania and Zimbabwe. I learnt about them because AllAfrica.com ran an article on their, then upcoming, tour. Tweeting a link to that article lead to a reply including a link to the SukiAfrica blog. I was so thrilled following the band's African tour through their photos, I wish I had seen them perform live.


A few days after learning of the existence of SukiAfrica, I came across yet another article devoted to crossover music this time with China. I'm mentioning the article because I'll be quoting from it, the article reports on Wu Tong, a Chinese musician.

'What attracts me most about crossover is its tolerance of and respect for various styles and musical thinking. Although people from different areas have different styles, the ultimate thing we want to express is the same,' says Wu...

'Crossover music is the simplest way to tell different people that we can live harmoniously together.'

I can't help but agree.

Which reminds me, last week I attended a gala hosted by the Chinese embassy with my cousin. Through the evening of dances from different regions and ethinic groups within China, a silent drama and a few performances using Chinese musical instruments, most of the audience was bored. Then a group of musicians playing Chinese instruments came on stage and using their instruments played a truly classic Nigerian tune -said to be the most successful song in Africa, 'Sweet Mother'. Imagining hearing that tune with Chinese instruments. It was amazing, I couldn't make a video but I took photos. The performers got a standing ovation when they were through.

I'm sorry I take really crappy photos.

And that reminds me, I've heard the Nigerian national anthem played with traditional Korean instruments. Anyway, what I'm trying to say is I totally with Wu Tong when he says that music crossovers show how different peoples can live harmoniously together.

7 comments:

  1. Beautiful. And understandable; so many African and East Asian instruments sound alike anyhow.

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  2. @EccentricYoruba

    Great post! Although I've heard mention of this collaboration, I hadn't come across the details.

    N'dana (Japan, @Hateya N'dana apparently has Ainu roots)

    I was surprised to discover that N'dana was actually a group, not a single person. More information about this collaboration can be found at group member, Yamakita Norihiko's (山北 紀彦 - やまきた のりひこ) website. Can you read this?
    http://www.k5.dion.ne.jp/~yamakita/profile.html
    There are also links to the other two members.

    Interestingly enough, The Husband had never heard of the town where they reside, Assabucho (厚沢部町 あっさぶちょう). These people intrigue me because they aren't even remotely related to the Ainu I'm familiar with because the people I know are generally either from the North Eastern part or South Central Hokkaido. They may well be more closely related to the people in Tohoku. Yet, they've been jamming with Oki, too. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oki_%28musician%29

    The Ainu despise being thought of as monolithic and you may well have introduced me to a completely different "tribe." Will investigate. Thank you.

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  3. @Ankh

    You're not the first person I've seen saying that!

    @Hateya

    I wasn't 100% sure that N'dana was a group until now. Thanks for the links! I can read mostly hiragana/katakana but have an embedded Japanese-English dictionary with my browser so no problem.

    The Ainu despise being thought of as monolithic and you may well have introduced me to a completely different "tribe." Will investigate. Thank you.

    Awesome! See, that was something I didn't know of previously, that the Ainu have different ethnic groups. Please share any results from your investigation with me.

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  4. I wasn't really sure where to put this?
    www.mysoju.com has free Korean and Japanese movies and television shows, including his sexiness.

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  5. @EccentricYoruba

    As I expected, the members of N'dana are not recognized as Ainu. I was told that they were probably transplanted wajin who came to Hokkaido to "get in touch with nature." That's neither here nor there because they seemed to have been the backup band for tonkorimaster Oki.

    I've heard that Oki has collaborated and performed all over Africa. When time permits, I'll look into this more.

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  6. @Hateya

    Why am I only seeing this now? Who doesn't recognise the members of N'dana as Ainu? That's interesting. If you ever get round to looking into Oki's performances on the continent, please let me know :D

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