“local” music on the world stage

Razia

It’s been a good week for Vermont’s Cumbancha recording label getting some well deserved (inter)national press.

First, on Monday, National Public Radio gave Razia a nod in their article 5 New African Bands That Ruled In 2010. She’s from Madagascar, now living in New York City. “Zebu Nation”, her debut recording, was released last spring on Cumbancha’s “Discovery” label for emerging artists. I happened to be in New York last April so I stopped by S.O.B.’s when Razia and her band were having their CD release party. The house was packed and the ecological message of her music couldn’t have been more timely: it was Earth Day. Razia’s personal warmth and conviction infuse her music with both soul and urgency – she offers catchy, melodic, original songs with a first-person view of the severe environmental issues that face her native island country.

Then, for the second high profile media mention this week, last night Brazil’s Luísa Maita was featured as the “global hit” on the BBC program The World. Like Razia, Luísa released “Lero-Lero”, her first recording, on Cumbancha Discovery this past year. She also came to Burlington for a sold out performance in early November that generated a lot of buzz: Who is she? Where has she been until now?

Maita Remixed

Warmth is also a word I’d use to describe Luísa’s delivery, with traditional Brazilian bossa novas and sambas forming the core of her very contemporary, classy sound. In fact her music was so ripe for remix that that’s exactly what happened: Lero-Lero‘s late summer release was quickly followed up by her Maita Remixed album in early November, also on Cumbancha Discovery. If the original recording was hip (it was), the remix package lends urban polish to the whole project with contributions from notables like DJ Tudo, Seiji, and DJ/Rupture. The best remix albums start with strong material, so this one was destined to be memorable.

Cumbancha’s motto is ‘live local, listen global’ – an idea it embodies every day with recordings like these two.

Full disclosure: I’ve volunteered and worked part-time at Cumbancha for a little over three years now. I’ve said it before: I would be listening to and writing about their recordings even if I didn’t.

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