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Okayafrica TV: Soweto Gospel Choir 'Meadowlands'

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We've always claimed to be the anti-world music website, but we'll make exceptions for acts as dope as the world-renowned Soweto Gospel Choir. We caught up with Shimmy Jiyane, Choir Master/Choreographer/Singer and founding member of the group last Friday at Symphony Space in NYC. Shimmy and his crew have travelled the world with their "African Grace" tour, a combination of cheerful as well as moving (we teared up) songs and dance straight from Johannesburg, South Africa. Shimmy tells us the difficulties of keeping the choir on point through nightly performances, and makes us feel fuzzy inside when he describes how Brooklyn made them feel at home (he reps BK with a pin on his jacket). The choir also sings "Meadowlands," a powerful anti-apartheid song. If these guys come through your hood, be sure to check them out! Complete list of tour dates here.

Video shot by Myo Campbell and Dominique Taylor.

 

Interview
Photo: Schure Media Group/Roc Nation

Interview: Buju Banton Is a Lyrical Purveyor of African Truth

A candid conversation with the Jamaican icon about his new album, Upside Down 2020, his influence on afrobeats, and the new generation of dancehall.

Devout fans of reggae music have been longing for new musical offerings from Mark Anthony Myrie, widely-known as the iconic reggae superstar Buju Banton. A shining son of Jamaican soil, with humble beginnings as one of 15 siblings in the close-knit community of Salt Lane, Kingston, the 46-year-old musician is now a legend in his own right.

Buju Banton has 12 albums under his belt, one Grammy Award win for Best Reggae Album, numerous classic hits and a 30-year domination of the industry. His larger-than-life persona, however, is more than just the string of accolades that follow in the shadows of his career. It is his dutiful, authentic style of Caribbean storytelling that has captured the minds and hearts of those who have joined him on this long career ride.

The current socio-economic climate of uncertainty that the COVID-19 pandemic has thrusted onto the world, coupled with the intensified fight against racism throughout the diaspora, have taken centre stage within the last few months. Indubitably, this makes Buju—and by extension, his new album—a timely and familiar voice of reason in a revolution that has called for creative evolution.

With his highly-anticipated album, Upside Down 2020, the stage is set for Gargamel. The title of this latest discography feels nothing short of serendipitous, and with tracks such as "Memories" featuring John Legend and the follow-up dancehall single "Blessed," it's clear that this latest body of work is a rare gem that speaks truth to vision and celebrates our polylithic African heritage in its rich fullness and complexities.

Having had an exclusive listen to some other tracks on the album back in April, our candid one-on-one conversation with Buju Banton journeys through his inspiration, collaboration and direction for Upside Down 2020, African cultural linkages and the next generational wave of dancehall and reggae.

This interview has been shortened and edited for clarity.

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