Review: Razia Said, 'Akory' Imagine a country where most of the people are under 14 years old. Madagascar singer Razia Said lives in the U.S., but her songs tackle the challenges the African island nation faces.
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Review: Razia Said, 'Akory'

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Review: Razia Said, 'Akory'

Review

Music Reviews

Review: Razia Said, 'Akory'

Review: Razia Said, 'Akory'

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Imagine a country where most of the people are under 14 years old. Madagascar singer Razia Said lives in the U.S., but her songs tackle the challenges the African island nation faces. Music critic Banning Eyre says her latest album Akory prods the nation's leaders with bold questions.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

We're going to go to Madagascar now by way of the new album by Razia Said. She was born in that country. New York City is now her home, but Madagascar remains at the center of her art. Banning Eyre says her second album transforms the African island's unique rhythms and melodies while asking challenging questions about its future.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ZANAKO")

BANNING EYRE, BYLINE: Madagascar is becoming a nation of children. Forty percent of its population is under the age of 14. But its economy is stagnant, and its resources dwindling. While Razia's song sways to a romantic local rhythm called malessa, her words ask what will become of all these children?

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ZANAKO")

RAZIA SAID: (Singing in foreign language).

EYRE: The album's title is "Akory" or "What Next," and this theme runs through many of the songs whether the subject is children, the future of traditional life or the destruction of Madagascar's rain forest. This song, "Taranaka Afara," is a sort of a ritual funeral for an uprooted tree.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "TARANAKA AFARA")

RAZIA: (Singing in foreign language).

EYRE: Razia asks difficult questions for an artist who has left Madagascar for New York. But she returns often, building a profile back home both as an activist and an artist. Perhaps the greatest charm of "Akory" is the involvement of some of Madagascar's best traditional musicians. There are vocal harmonies and prowess on string instruments from guitars to local zithers, and fiddles are a delight throughout.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "AMARAY")

RAZIA: (Singing in foreign language).

EYRE: Razia's use of jazzy harmonies and complex song forms is unusual. These songs, written in New York, recorded in Madagascar, polished in Paris, are unlike anything other Malagasy musicians are creating today. Only Razia would adapt the giddy tsapiky music style of southwest Madagascar to prod the nation's leaders with this bold question - what is your plan for this country? That kind of feistiness is a hallmark of this album, which aims to move dancing feet as well as minds.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BARAINGO")

RAZIA: (Singing in foreign language).

CORNISH: Banning Eyre is senior editor at afropop.org. He reviewed "Akory" by Razia.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BARAINGO")

RAZIA: (Singing in foreign language).

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