sat 27/02/2021

Songlines Music Awards - Cerys Matthews introduces a global line-up of winners | reviews, news & interviews

Songlines Music Awards - Cerys Matthews introduces a global line-up of winners

Songlines Music Awards - Cerys Matthews introduces a global line-up of winners

The World Music magazine celebrates its 12th annual awards

Songlines Music Awards 12

Booking a venue, filling it with people, and handing out awards-night hardware to a range of international artists is a challenge to be reckoned with at any time, even more so in the wake of this year's pandemic.

Booking a venue, filling it with people, and handing out awards-night hardware to a range of international artists is a challenge to be reckoned with at any time, even more so in the wake of this year's pandemic. Such was the challenge met by Songlines magazine, for which I have been a regular writer for many years, as it mounted its annual World Music Awards show online – and at the mercy of an internet connection for the first time. It was fronted by singer and broadcaster Cerys Matthews, a Songlines Awards regular who, in this virtual edition, held the reins from home, and featured remotely recorded star turns from winners across the categories of Best Artist and Best Group – voted for by readers – and African, Asian, European, American and Fusion categories.

We also had Newcomer and World Pioneer awards, announced on the night, and live footage from most of the winners. They included Best Artist Bassekou Kouyaté's Malian grooves, Best Group Cimarrón’s (pictured left) percussive mixture of harp with cuatro, bandola and more, and the winner of the African categories, Blick Bassy and his three-piece band performing "Mpodol" from his 1958 album focusing on French colonialism.

There were multiple thanks via Zoom from the likes of Lankum, who were seen performing "Wild Rover" for Boston’s WGBH TV channel, and from Kafiya, with Afghan singer Elaha Soroor performing "Gole Be Khar" from Songs of Our Mothers. Soroor was also given the Newcomer Award, which she dedicated to “the women of Afghanistan for their lives and stories that inspired the album”. Jambinai’s "Sun.Tears.Red" brought one of the highlights from their excellent ONDA album to extraordinarily vigorous life, while Haitian-American singer and onetime Carolina Chocolate Drop Layla McCalla, on a blue sofa in front of pale green wall of wood board, thanked us, picked up her banjo and played a winningly informal performance of the title track from Capitalist Blues.

The hour-long show closed with the World Pioneer award – posthumous, alas – going to Hugh Masekela and Tony Allen, for music they recorded back in 2010, and which was release as Rejoice this year. A video of their tribute to Fela Kuti, "Never (Lagos Never Gonna Be the Same)" revealed a brilliance and artistry that's hard to say goodbye to. As Masekela’s son Salima said in his thanks, they’d both delight in the fact that they’re still making a noise down here while they’re all the way up there.

You can watch the full Songlines Awards ceremony here.

@CummingTim

Elaha Soroor dedicated her Newcomer Award to 'the women of Afghanistan for their lives and stories that inspired the album'

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