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newsletters from the recent past


Zanzibar's Little Grannie

No one knows her exact age, but she is definitely in her ninth decade, if not older. Yet Bi Kidude has stirred up the world of taarab like nobody else. The 'Little Grannie' from Zanzibar has a history that goes back to the 1920s and the days of Siti Binti Saad but her current style shows the modern face of this elegant, formal music. When Bi Kidude plays, people dance.

'Zanzibar' [RETRO12CD] is her debut solo album, compiled from sessions with Twinkling Stars and Shikamoo Jazz, with whom she toured Britain in 1995. Its 60-odd minutes of moody, magnificent music will captivate anyone with an ear for the unexpected. Bi Kidude's deep, bluesy voice- sometimes mournful and sometimes celebratory - complements the delicate tones of taarab instrumentation: her drumming offers a dramatic surprise. Many of these songs, originally popularised by Siti Binti Saad have since been adapted to fit Bi Kidude's own experience. Hers has been a long and eventful life and RetroAfric take pride in releasing her first solo CD.


'King' returned to splendour

E.T. Mensah, the multi-instrumentalist, band- leader and undisputed King of Highlife, sadly died in 1996. E.T. was the artist who inspired RetroAfric's mission to re-present classic tracks by Africa's masters of popular music.

The first collection, 'All For You', was released as a vinyl LP in 1986. Since then technology has moved on apace and the label has re-mastered the original material which is now cleaner and more splendid than ever. The album has been brought up to CD length with the addition of three previously unavailable tracks. We have also added a concise biography of the great man. A new catalogue number for 'All For You' [RETRO1XCD] denotes the added value version: the bar code remains the same. Forty five years after they were first recorded, E.T.'s swinging highlife/calypsos still resonate. Check out the current cinema release My Son The Fanatic for a lick of E.T.'s horn.


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