News / Arts & Entertainment

Senegal Jazz Festival Sees Renewed Interest

Blues singer Lucky Peterson plays the guitar on stage at the Saint Louis jazz festival in Saint-Louis, Senegal, June 8, 2014.
Blues singer Lucky Peterson plays the guitar on stage at the Saint Louis jazz festival in Saint-Louis, Senegal, June 8, 2014.
Reuters
— Once a lively French colonial trading port, the sleepy city of Saint-Louis in West Africa's Senegal bursts into life for just a few days a year during the annual summer jazz festival.
 
From dusk, jazz from the open-air concert blends with African rhythms, and drifts off the shores of the tiny island where the festival is held down the normally tranquil banks of the Senegal River.
 
This year's headline act, African-American blues singer Lucky Peterson, would have been hard pressed to find a venue more evocative of the suffering of slaves transported to the Americas, widely thought to have inspired the blues more than 100 years ago, than Saint-Louis.
 
The pastel-colored, rectangular shops and houses lining the river were once the warehouses for gum and ivory, as well as slaves, bound for the Atlantic trade.
 
But Peterson, a former child star who said he plays blues “with a touch of jazz, a touch of soul, a touch of funk and a touch of gospel," was anything but melancholic on the closing night of the festival June 8.
 
Closing night concert

Initially hidden behind dark shades, Peterson opened on the keys with a more than 10-minute cover of Johnny Nash's “I Can See Clearly Now,” occasionally needling the few audience members still sitting stiff in their chairs.
 
He then reached for a cherry-red electric guitar for an adrenaline-filled two-hour set peppered with numbers from his new album "The Son of a Bluesman," prompting a heartfelt encore.
 
“Lucky was like a man possessed. The energy was streaming out of his pores,” said Ibrahima Diop, the festival president.
 
Organizers had been seeking to boost the participation of local artists, partly to break down the local perception that jazz and blues music, despite humble origins, is elitist.
 
FILE - People dance along to a performance by band Wato in a bar in Saint-Louis, Senegal.FILE - People dance along to a performance by band Wato in a bar in Saint-Louis, Senegal.
x
FILE - People dance along to a performance by band Wato in a bar in Saint-Louis, Senegal.
FILE - People dance along to a performance by band Wato in a bar in Saint-Louis, Senegal.

Senegalese jazz guitarist Herve Samb was invited back to Saint-Louis after last playing at the festival alongside Peterson in 1993 when he was just 14 years old.
 
“The goal was to bring back together two exceptional guitarists 20 years afterwards. This year's edition is all about the comeback,” said Mame Birame Seck, who selects the artists.
 
Twisting his hips in serpentine motions, Samb performed long, emotional call-and-response sessions with his saxophonist and drummer.

Among the instruments in his band was the sabar - a traditional west African drum set originally used to communicate between villages many kilometers apart.
 
“He played his butt off,” said Peterson, summing up Samb's performance afterwards.
 
Inspirational

For Samb, jazz, which began as a fusion between African and European rhythms, can still be inspired by African music.
 
“Many fusion projects are driven by musicians outside of African culture who don't know our music in depth. It needs to be reversed so it's driven by us,” he told Reuters.
 
The “comeback” theme also applies to the event itself. Having just celebrated its 22nd year, Africa's biggest jazz festival has in the past seen greats like Herbie Hancock, but audience numbers have dipped in recent years amid budget constraints.
 
While the budget this year was “just a sliver” of the 205 million CFA Franc ($424,800) that was sought, according to Diop, ticket sales rose in 2014 to around 5,000, and hotels were booked months in advance.
 
“We lost the confidence of a lot of our partners and now they are coming back,” Seck said

You May Like

As AIDS Epidemic Matures, Workplaces Adapt

Issue of AIDS in workplace is one of many social issues being discussed at the 20th International Aids Conference in Australia More

Is Air Travel Safe?

Aviation expert says despite tragic losses of Malaysian Airlines flights 370 and 17, industry experienced lowest fatality rate in recorded history last year More

100 Days Later, Nigerian Girls Still Held

Activists holding rallies in Nigeria and several other countries to mark 100th day of captivity for more than 200 schoolgirls being held by Boko Haram More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Formi
X
July 22, 2014 10:26 AM
Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.

AppleAndroid

New in Music Alley

Soul Lounge

New Orleans-based Water Seed joins Shawna Renee inside the "Soul Lounge" where they introduce listeners to their latest album, a wonderful fusion of jazz, soul and rhythm & blues. The group also explains how the heart of New Orleans influences each of them as musicians and songwriters.