Monday, March 17, 2014

Nyota - Black Star & Lucky Star Musical Club

In the 60's Black Star Musical Club took taarab along a different path by taking the rhythms from the dansi groups of the era,and also added the electric guitar, bass,
and ultimately the keyboard, and replaced the older taarab instruments like the oud,
the string double bass, and the harmonium.Black Star Musical Club developed a rivalry with a group
that broke off from it called Lucky Star Musical Club, also known as Nyota Njema, which means Lucky Star in Swahili. Throughout the 1970s and into the 1980s, these two bands warred with each other by singing songs
about each other, but always through the employ of metaphor.They would have very rarely sung
direct insults toward each other. Taarab, the poetic form, is well-known for its use of innuendo and metaphor
and multiple layers of meaning to talk about social life, and comment on social life.

In the seventies and eighties, Black Star and Lucky Star,became famous not only in Tanga.
It went far beyond that, because they were also recorded by studios not too far away in Mombasa,
just across the border in Kenya. Their recordings were played on Radio Tanzania, and also in Kenya,
on KBC, and the popularity of Black Star and Lucky Star spread throughout what is now Tanzania.

by Kelly Askew

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Friday, March 7, 2014

Mohamed Gubara

Mohamed Gubara is considered one of Sudan's finest players of the tambur,or lyre,
an instrument which has changed little for over 5000 years.He sings songs of social commentary,
political protest and love, in a voice that is completely original.
Mohamed Gubara was born into a small village in the Northern Province of Sudan in October 1947.
Music and dance are an important part of everyday life to Gubara's Shaigiyya people and he began to play the tambur at the age of ten, quickly mastering the basics of the ancient instrument.
He decided to leave his village at the age of fourteen and travelled to Atbara, the railway capital of Sudan, in the southern part of Northern Province
where he found work as a messenger. He joined a club (Al-Ahli) where he could develop his skills
on the tambur as an amateur. It was at this club where he was first encouraged to sing.
His natural way of singing showed little influence of traditional Sudanese styles and his spine
tingling high pitched delivery won him great favour with local audiences.
This local fame led to his composing the music for the first Sudanese film Hopes and Dreams.
In 1970 Gubara left Atbara for Khartoum, a perfect singer but an unknown one.
In Khartoum he joined the Armys Musical Corps where he was given a chance on the air in the Armed Forces programme aired weekly by Sudan Broadcasting Service (Radio Omdurman).

The first song to usher him into the world of fame was Umma (Mother) which narrates the deep sorrow of a loving son who has travelled far away from his mother.
Most of Gubaras songs are given to him by poets from his Shaigiyya tribe,
who also compose the melody. These poets find Gubaras voice the perfect vehicle to express their songs.
Many of the top Sudanese singers have songs written for them by poets who record their work onto cassette,often accompanying themselves on oud to suggest the melody.
The poems are then re-arranged by the singer, Gubaras songs and melodies are specially written
with the singer in mind and he does not re-arrange them, just puts his little touches to them.
Most of Gubaras songs are written by Elsir Osman, with whom the singer shares a great affinity.

H.M. Yassin
from the notes-1988