Various Artists

Global Divas

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One of Rounder's releases from before the series of ethno albums from Alain Danielou's vision, Global Divas as an album seems conceptually like something Putumayo would put out; but the music on the album is of full Rounder quality. There are representatives of 41 different musical traditions on the album, with nearly as many separate nations represented by the same. The one main problem with the album is the near-schizophrenia brought by it. The styles switch from Nordic song to Australian Aboriginal influenced folk to Cuban musica campesina, Finnish pop, Malian folk, Tex-Mex, American opera, and more; and that's only the first disc of the three-part set. Each of the artists on the album is a full fledged diva in her/their own right in their native countries, with a few being international divas (Celia Cruz, Marlene Dietrich, Aretha Franklin, Miriam Makeba). The editors or the album have done quite a job in collecting such a range of works, and of such quality. If there was only a little more organization on the album, it would be nearly perfect. (Luckily, most CD players can now be programmed with a track order). The highlights on the album come in multiple forms. There are works that one would expect to be stunning in some manner (Aretha Franklin, Celia Cruz), there are somewhat lesser known, but still stunning virtuoso vocal pieces (Oumou Sangare, Rosa Eskenazi, Calypso Rose), there are artists with new names and relations appearing (The Bulgarian State Radio & Television Female Vocal Choir, formerly known as Les Mystere de Voix Bulgares; Bob Marley's mother Cedella), and there are virtual unknowns (at least in the U.S.) that have amazing power (Nasida Ria, Tarika Sammy, Mercedes Sosa). Overall, the album is quite lengthy, and takes a fan of ethnomusicology with some patience to take in the album in its entirety, but the rewards are paid if one does go through the ordeal.

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