Leading world music magazine Songlines celebrates the myriad of musical talent across the world through its annual Songlines Music Awards. Held for the first time on the Barbican stage, this year’s awards concert features Indian sitar star Anoushka Shankar (Best Artist), Touareg desert rock band Tinariwen (Best Group) and Malian singer-songwriter Fatoumata Diawara (Best Newcomer).
"For me, the sitar’s greatest strength is its versatility,” said Anoushka Shankar in the very first issue of Songlines in 1999. She’s gone on to amply demonstrate that in subsequent years.
Daughter of the legendary Ravi Shankar, Anoushka started learning the sitar aged nine. In her teens she was regularly playing onstage with her father and had released three albums by the age of 20. But alongside her classical sitar work, she has also recorded contemporary fusion projects, including last year’s Traveller, which won her this year’s award.
There have been numerous Indian music meets flamenco records, but Traveller, her first recording for Deutsche Grammophon, is without question one of the best. The musical link is through the Roma Gypsies who originated in India but were crucial in the development of Andalusian flamenco in the 19th century. She joined up with producer and guitarist Javier Limón, and some of the tracks take a flamenco form and add Indian ideas, and others start with an Indian raga and add flamenco rhythm.
Anoushka Shankar live from her latest album Traveller
The Touareg group Tinariwen have been bringing their electrified desert blues to international audiences for more than a decade. They have won fans amongst people not normally interested in African music, played over 800 concerts around the world and inspired a flock of other Saharan bands.
Released last year, their fifth album takes its name, Tassili, from the spectacular region in southern Algeria where they recorded it, as the situation in Mali was too precarious. They’ve largely laid down the electric guitars and picked up acoustic instruments for a mellower sound, but keeping the growly vocals and sandy grit of the long campfire recording sessions.
Desert sessions of Tassili, Tinariwen's latest album
Please note this is a concert not an awards ceremony.