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

On Everest, Helicopters Rescue Stranded Climbers

Choppers transport some of more than 100 mountaineers trapped after deadly quake, avalanches More

Video Ten Years After Riots, France Searches for Answers to Neglected Suburbs

In 2005, a Paris suburb exploded into violence after two teenagers were electrocuted as they hid from police; since then, somethings have changed, others not More

US, Japan Announce Historic Revision of Defense Cooperation Guidelines

Nations say new guidelines will be 'cornerstone for peace and security' in Asia-Pacific region while also serving as 'platform for a more stable international security environment' 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.
‘Angel of the Migrants’ Helps Desperate Syrians Arriving in Europei
X
Henry Ridgwell
April 26, 2015 10:36 PM
Waves of migrants are continuing to arrive on the shores of southern Italy from North Africa. After their dangerous journey across the Mediterranean, they face an unknown future in Europe. In the Sicilian city of Catania there is an activist dedicated to helping the refugees on their journey.
Video

Video ‘Angel of the Migrants’ Helps Desperate Syrians Arriving in Europe

Waves of migrants are continuing to arrive on the shores of southern Italy from North Africa. After their dangerous journey across the Mediterranean, they face an unknown future in Europe. In the Sicilian city of Catania there is an activist dedicated to helping the refugees on their journey.
Video

Video Ten Years After Riots, France Searches for Answers to Neglected Suburbs

January’s terrorist attacks and fears of more to come are casting a spotlight on France’s neglected suburbs. Home to many immigrants, and sometimes hubs of crime, they were rocked by rioting a decade ago. Lisa Bryant visited the Paris suburb of Clichy-sous-Bois, where the 2005 violence first broke out, and has this report about what has changed and what has not.
Video

Video Gay Marriage Goes Before US Supreme Court

This week, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments on whether gay people have a constitutional right to marriage. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the case could lead to the nationwide legalization of same-sex marriage, or a continuation of the status quo in which individual states decide whether to recognize gay unions.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.

VOA Blogs

New in Music Alley

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Harry Wayne Casey – “KC” of KC and the Sunshine Band – comes to VOA’s Studio 4 to talk with "Border Crossings" host Larry London and perform songs from his new album, “Feeling You! The 60s.”