Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The Celebration Concert: Kicking off Afropop's coverage of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa

The time has finally come, and no one is more excited about this year's World Cup in South Africa than your friends at Afropop. Stick with us through the whole Cup (June 11-July 11) for continuing and unique coverage of the massive event, all from Afropop's singular perspective. To get started, we're giving you a guide to the huge, star-studded music event tied to the Cup, the "Kick-off Celebration Concert." Unlike on the pitch, for the concert you don't have to pick one favorite—you can enjoy them all.

Quick facts
-What: "The greatest entertainment event to date in Africa"
-Where: Orlando Stadium in Soweto, Johannesburg
-When: June 10, 8:00 PM local time (2:00 PM EST)
-Who: Alicia Keys, Angelique Kidjo, Amadou & Mariam, Black Eyed Peas, Blk Jks, Freshlyground, Hugh Masekela, John Legend, Juanes, K'Naan, Mzansi Youth Choir, Shakira, Soweto Gospel Choir, The Parlotones, Tinariwen, Vieux Farka Toure, Vusi Mahlasela

Below is a run down of some of the most notable African musicians performing:

Angelique Kidjo (Benin): The queen of African crossover pop has a hot new album out, and we at Afropop have all the goods, including a review, an extensive interview, and an exclusive video. Also, below is her new video for a track on the album that features some very special guests.

Amadou & Mariam (Mali): We really hope you've heard the amazing story and sound that is Amadou & Mariam. If not, check out the video below, as it's a stellar, stripped down version of a song off their most recent album Welcome to Mali.

Blk Jks (South Africa):
Bands these days don't get much hotter than Blk Jks. And you know what? Since we're always on the cutting edge of world music, we have an exclusive interview with them from last year. Also, if you're hungry for more brand new music, the fine people at KCRW are streaming the new Blk Jks EP Zol! on their website here.

Hugh Masekela (South Africa):
Bringing old school class to the festivities is legendary South African trumpeter Hugh Masekela. He's been playing for over 50 years, and will offer a nice foil for the new, up-and-coming young musicians from Africa like Blk Jks and K'Naan. We have a number of features on our website that relate to Hugh Masekela, but try starting with this fascinating interview from 2002.

K'Naan (Somalia): Representing African hip-hop at the concert is international star K'Naan. Politically and socially aware, he makes music for all the right reasons and has really been gaining notoriety recently. Below are two rather remarkable videos that use a song from his last album Troubadour that's the perfect anthem for the first World Cup on African soil (even if FIFA doesn't agree).

Tinariwen (Mali):
There really is no other group like Tinariwen—it's a rotating cast of Tuareg musicians from the Sahara region of northern Mali who play "desert blues," a genre largely made for them that's informed as much by Western guitar heroes like Jimi Hendrix and Jimmy Page as it is by traditional Malian music. We've got a great interview with band leader Abdallah from a few years back, and look for them in New York City on June 26th at Central Park's Summerstage.

Vieux Farka Toure (Mali): Another musician from Mali featured at the kick-off concert, Vieux is son of the illustrious late Ali Farka Toure. Look no further for proof in the power of genes: Vieux can play the ol' guitar like few on earth. If you don't believe me, tune in to watch him play in South Africa or play the video below of him playing casually in his yard in Bamako.

Vusi Mahlasela (South Africa):
Vusi is another politically conscious musician who has made a name for himself playing a contemporary style of South African folk music. His performance is sure to be an emotional one, since much of his music deals with the violence and aftermath of apartheid.

We hope you enjoy the concert, and stay tuned for more posts from Afropop's perspective on the World Cup!
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