Monthly Music Tip: 'Talking Africa' : NPR FM Berlin BlogThis month's music tip looks at vocalist Mfa-Kera and guitarist Mike Russell's latest album release, Talking Africa. The duo will be performing this Friday at Quasimodo.
The CD is ranked 23rd in the European World Music Charts and features stellar performances by Russell and Mfa-Kera. It also features special guests TM Steven (who played with Joe Cocker, James Brown, Tina Turner, and The Pretenders) and children from the streets of Madagascar singing to save their land.
Mfa-Kera found her way to Berlin from her birth country, Senegal, via Madagascar, Paris and Los Angeles. Mike Russell is originally from East Washington.
Twenty years ago, they merged their creative energies and musical talents to form Black Heritage here in Berlin. At the Quasimodo, they are backed by Joe DiCarlo on drums, Darryl Taylor on bass, Samba sock from Senegal on percussion, and Reinhard Kateman on keys.
Vocalist Mfa-Kera and Guitarist Mike Russell
The CD contains songs inspired by themes of hope.
"Moringa Ananambo" is about a tree in Madagascar called the "Miracle Tree," named for its ability to help restore water and soil and to heal the earth after deforestation. Russell says this is one of his favorite songs on their album.
The song "Lolita" focuses on human trafficking, and "21" is a song told from the perspective of the mother of a young man who is deployed to the Iraq war.
But don't let the serious nature of these themes fool you- the music grooves with Afro, R&B, funk and blues influences.