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Sounds of Africa: Salif Keita, Regina Carter, and Fela!, The Bauls of Bengal Mark Your Calendars: Rosanne Cash at 6th and I

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Salif Keita, LA DIFFÉRENCE (Emarcy, $16.98) – The title track of Salif Keita’s new album begins, “I am black but my skin is white” (translation courtesy Songlines magazine), and addresses the plight of albino people in Africa; this is Salif’s cause, and the proceeds of the CD help fight this discrimination. The album is acoustic, and revisits a few of Salif’s greatest songs, such as “Folon” and “Seydou.” It’s a great sound, and Salif will be bringing it to town this week: he performs this Friday, June 11, at Lisner Auditorium as part of the VSA Festival.

Regina Carter, REVERSE THREAD (E1 Entertainment, $17.98) – Jazz violinist and MacArthur grant winner Regina Carter has spent the last couple of years immersed in African music. She’s put together a sweet-sounding group featuring violin, kora, accordion, bass, and drums to play traditional songs from Uganda and Madagascar, to tunes by Amadou & Miriama, Habib Koité, and Bouboucar Traoré. Ms Carter will perform tonight as part of the DC Jazz Festival.

FELA!: Original Broadway Cast (Knitting Factory, $18.98) – Fela!, directed and choreographed by Bill T. Jones, has been taking Broadway by storm, and garnered 11 Tony nominations, including Best Musical, and one for Sahr Ngaujah, playing Nigerian musician and political activist Fela Anikulapo Kuti. The group Antibalas has been playing Fela’s innovative Afro-Beat sounds for many years, and were the right choice to be  the funky backup band. Go see the play if you can, but definitely check out this exciting cast album.

The Bauls of Bengal – baul is Bengali for “mad” or “possessed” – have a 500-year history. These minstrels wander the countryside, singing devotional songs, and reject caste, and indeed all formal religion. Pabab Das Baul is one of the most respected of these singers, and his brand new album is MUSIC OF THE HONEY GATHERER (Riverboat Records, $16.98).
William Dalrymple devotes a chapter to the Bauls (he calls them “singing philosophers”) in his brand new book, NINE LIVES: In Search of the Sacred in Modern India (Knopf, $26.95). Read his article about the Bauls, and his musical book tour in the Financial Times ( ). The Bauls and Dalrymple will be doing their show next Wednesday, June 16, at the Freer Sackler Gallery.

Politics & Prose will present Rosanne Cash reading from her new book, COMPOSED: A Memoir (Viking), at 6th& I Synagogue on Wednesday, August 11, at 7 p.m. More details in our July/August calendar. In the mean time, listen to Rosanne’s THE LIST (Manhattan, $17.98).