Aziza’s life has been marked by both daunting hardship and inspired will. Fleeing from the refugee camps and the regime of political oppression that followed Morocco’s 1975 invasion of Western Sahara, as a young teenager Aziza travelled to Cuba for her secondary school studies. There she experienced first hand the deep Cuban economic crisis of the 1990s and the subsequent denial of her request to pursue a university degree in music.
Music had been Aziza’s passion since she was a small girl and despite this setback she returned to the Saharawi camps in Algeria and began singing and playing in different musical ensembles, a process that continued when she moved to Spain in the year 2000. There she founded the eclectic Saharawi/Spanish band Gulili Mankoo with whom she released two acclaimed self-produced recordings: the EP ‘Mi Canto’ (2008) and an album ‘Mabruk’ (2012), both on Reaktion, a French label specializing in Saharan music. In the last years Aziza has performed extensively appearing at major festivals and venues including WOMAD Cáceres (2012) and the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London (2009).
Aziza’s new album ‘Soutak’ ("Your Voice"), her debut for the Glitterbeat label, is her first recording to predominantly focus on the cadence of her majestic voice and the soulful critique of her lyrics. The album was produced by Chris Eckman (Tamikrest, Ben Zabo, Dirtmusic) and was recorded live and direct in Barcelona in June of 2013.
The hand picked band she assembled for the album consists of Spaniards Nico Roca (percussion) and Guillem Aguilar (bass), Malian Kalilou Sangare (acoustic lead guitar), Aziza’s sister Badra Abdallahe (backing voice) and in addition to singing, Aziza contributes acoustic rhythm guitar and the tabal, the traditional Saharawi hand-drum.
The music on ‘Soutak’ is a powerful and nuanced mixture of musical cultures and features Malian, Spanish, Cuban and contemporary Anglo-European motifs all held together by Aziza’s deeply rooted knowledge of traditional Saharawi song and sound.
Though the songs on ‘Soutak’ can be unsparing in their details of oppression, there is more often than not a "smiling breeze" to be found. Aziza’s essential voice, headstrong commitment and subtly inventive music are that breeze. Aziza Brahim has delivered an empowered flight to freedom; an alternative world where hope is imminent and dancing is justified.
Live in London
Sunday, 27 April 2014, 7pm , at St Pancras Old Church, 191 Pancras Road, London NW1 1UL, Tube: King’s Cross
Tickets: £14 adv + bf from WeGotTickets (http://www.wegottickets.com/event/263358) & TicketWeb (http://www.ticketweb.co.uk/) / £16 on the door
New album ‘Soutak’
Out now on Glitterbeat Records
CD/ Vinyl/ Download (GBCD/LP009)
Watch the "Julud" video: http://youtu.be/9SvfLB6bLHM