A collection of islands off the east coast of Africa, Comoros combines Arabic, Malaysian, indigenous African and French cultures. Its history is a harried one, with a former coup leader recently elected to president and a slew of economic problems. Yet its natural beauty, full of aromatic flora and unique animals such as the coelacanth, gives life to many a song. Here are five artists from the Comoros you need to hear.
Traditional Comorian instruments such as the gambusi and rounded percussion interweave with call-and-response vocals in the Elisouma Trio. The splendid guitar work of Eliasse Ben Joma, the calm confidence of multi-talented Mwegne M’Madi and the madcap reverie of lead singer “Soubi” Athoumane Soubira have earned the threesome international acclaim. (Thank you to Muziekpublique for the info.)
Getting their start in the 1980s, this pop-driven duo have become two of the biggest names in the Comoros. Daniel Halid, in particular, has put the islands on the musical map, fusing reggae, acoustic soul and chants. He preaches “Rasta Tolerance” in his songs, according to his Facebook page, and cites Bob Marley among his greatest influences.
Salim Ali Amir
Another longtime purveyor of Comoran music, Amir uses his fluid tenor to soothe the senses. His voice is like the vanilla and jasmine scents that waft through the islands, a gentle and comforting spirit. He is especially noted for his dedicated studio production, often playing all the instruments himself on his albums. He dabbles in zouk, a Caribbean genre full of buoyant rhythms and gleeful lyrics.
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