Various Artists

Think Global: Women of Africa

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It's a veritable who's who of female African vocal talent on this very green (100-percent recyclable) CD that helps raise money for Oxfam. There's well-established talent like the venerable Miriam Makeba performing one of her classic tracks, and younger talents, as well, like the Somali singer Saba. With Cameroon, Mali, Madagascar, Egypt, South Africa, Congo, and the Sahara represented, it's a very fair geographic cross section. Other than adding the late legend Oum Koulthoum, you'd be hard-pressed to find more big names, too. Kandia Kouyate is the queen of the jelis, or griottes, a woman with a big, stunning voice, while M'Bilia Bel was the continent's first modern female superstar in the 1980s. Inevitably, there's a huge variety of sound, but in every case there's the root of tradition under it all. Those into African music will probably have most of the cuts here, but for anyone looking to be introduced to a wider world, this makes an excellent beginning.

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