One of Africa's most well known and influential musicians, and an international style icon, Congolese singer Papa Wemba died suddenly during a performance in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, on April 24, at age 66. Aside from the video clips contained within this NPR obituary, I'd recommend the entertaining feature film from 1987 starring Papa Wemba, La Vie est Belle.
If you were to ask me "What is the most artistic drum solo you've ever heard?", I'd say "You mean the one with the most exquisite sense of dynamics? One that doesn't bludgeon you over the head, but instead pulls you in with its subtlety and restraint? Where masterful technique is purely at the service of musicality? That best conveys a musical vision and a deep understanding of the interrelationships of percussive timbre and tone that make up that remarkable instrument we call the drum set?" You'd say "Yeah." I'd say this. [more inside]
The full-on, amped-up sanza sounds of Konono No. 1 have been celebrated here at MeFi not once but twice, and they are indeed wonderful. Björk's been working with them a bit lately, too. But let's go back a few decades, and take a listen to the unplugged version of this type of music: mesdames et messiurs, Papa Kourand, the grand old man of the sanza! [more inside]
“The thing about the Kraut and me is that we have been in love since 1934, when we first met on the Île de France, but we’ve never been to bed. Amazing but true. Victims of unsynchronized passion.” Author Ernest Hemingway and actress Marlene Dietrich met while traveling across the Atlantic. Their friendship lasted until the Nobel Prize-winning author's death in 1961. In 2003, the JFK library received a donation from Marlene Dietrich's daughter of 30 letters, cards, and other documents that had been written to her mother by the author. Hemingway's estate had already donated 31 letters from Dietrich. These letters have now been unsealed and are set to go on view.