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Diverse music: The Nile Project makes its UK debut

Photo credit: Israel Seoane Gonzalez

THE NILE Project brings together musicians from East and North Africa to celebrate the richly diverse cultures that have flourished for centuries along the Nile River.

Resonant lyres and seductive strings from up and down the river—from its sources beyond Lakes Victoria and Tana to its delta in Egypt—have learned new musical modes, while buzzing timbres and ingenious polyrhythms support vocals in more than ten languages.

This performance features Nile Project Collective musicians from Burundi, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan, and Tanzania.

Brought to life in 2013, the project was devised to further musical exchange and dialogue and to raise awareness of the region’s delicate ecosystem. The collaborative model of the Nile Project Collective is a blueprint for new ways Nile Citizens can organise themselves to cooperate and further the sustainability of the Nile Basin.

Since the Nile Project’s inception, varying line-ups of musicians have toured extensively through Africa, the Middle East and the US, attracting over 60,000 people to their concerts to date.

In June, The Nile Project comes to the UK for the first time and will stop at Islington’s Assembly Hall on June 19 as part of the Barbican’s contemporary music programming, featuring musicians from Burundi, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan, and Tanzania.

The Nile Project’s first album, Aswan, named after the Egyptian city where it was recorded live at the collective’s debut performance, came out in 2013. Their follow-up album Jinja was recorded during the Project’s 2015 US tour and will be released soon.

The Musicians

Adel Mekha / Egypt, Nubia / Vocals, Percussion
Adel Mekha is a widely respected Nubian percussionist and vocalist. With his knowledge of traditional Nubian rhythms and an expressive singing voice, Adel has worked with a wide range of ensembles and projects in and around Cairo, Egypt. Currently, Adel is a member of Uss We Lazq (Cut & Paste), a socially engaged Egyptian band.

Ahmed Omar / Eritrea, Egypt / Bass, Tanbour
Born in Libya to an Eritrean father and Egyptian mother, it is no surprise that mixing cultures has become part of Ahmed’s creative output. It was after a visit to Eritrea in search of his roots that Omar started to think about the relationships between African and Oriental music and began to seek out musicians from other traditions to make the music that became the Africairo project. Today Ahmed plays bass for leading Egyptian bands such as Senet, El Dor El Awal, Beshir, and Wust El Balad. Ahmed has also organized the Afri­Cairo Music Festival and is a partner and manager at the Wust El Balad recording studio.

Photo credit: Sherief Elkatsa

Asia Madani / Sudan / Vocals, Percussion
Asia Madani is a Sudanese vocalist and percussionist currently residing in Cairo. Rooted in tradition, she was raised surrounded by music with a father that played oud and a professional percussionist as a brother. Asia has performed at many international festivals.

Claude Ciza / Burundi / Percussion, Ikembe, Vocals
Born in Burundi, Claude Ciza began his musical journey on traditional Burundian drums and other African percussion but his curiosity for music carried him to modern sounds. By the age of 18, he was touring Africa with Kidum and Samputu, among others. He later moved to the Netherlands where he graduated from Prins Claus Conservatory studying jazz drumming under the tutelage of Ralph Peterson and Steve Alternburg. A composer, drummer, and in-­demand teacher, Claude has toured Europe, Africa, and the US.

Dave Otieno / Kenya / Electric Guitar
One of Kenya's leading guitarists, Dave Otieno is fluent in the Benga style common to the Lake Victoria region. He has worked with The Mushrooms (of 'Kenya Hakuna Matata' fame), Suzanne Owiyo, Eric Wainaina, and Ayub Ogada in Kenya as well as Mulatu Astatke, Chachi Tadesse, Gigi, and the now famous Tsedenia Gebre Markos in Ethiopia where, in 1995, he was commissioned by the Ethiopian Government to design a recording studio for the Mega Creative Arts Centre in Addis. Dave has toured internationally with performances at the Joy of Jazz festival in South Africa, the North Sea Jazz festival in Holland, Festival Mundial in Holland, and the Folklife Festival at the Smithsonian, Washington D.C.

Dawit Seyoum Estifanos / Ethiopia / Krar, Bass Krar
Dawit is a well known bass krar player in Addis Ababa, flexible in a wide variety of formations and styles, and also a skilled player of the traditional Krar and flute called Washint. Dawit has toured extensively within Ethiopia representing the Addis Ababa University at Mekele, Bahir Dar, Ambo, Dessie, Nazreth, etc, as well as internationally with artists such as drummer Paal Nilsson-Love, Jeroen Visser, Mirco. Dawit is a regular member of Ethiocolor, the top Ethiopian cultural band based in Addis.

Endalekachew Nigusie / Ethiopia / Masenko
A well known masenko player in Addis, Endalekachew performs regularly at the Ethiopian National Theater, Ras Theater, and on the popular Ethiopian Idol TV show, Balageru. He has his own studio and also works as an arranger.

Photo credit: Sherief Elkatsa

Kasiva Mutua / Kenya / Percussion, Vocals
Jackline Kasiva Mutua (Kasiva) is an internationally touring drummer and percussionist based in Nairobi, Kenya. Her performance style is influenced by afrobeat, zouk, samba, reggae and soul. As a young drummer, Kasiva learned traditional drums from her grandmother and continues to perpetuate her heritage and celebrate her community’s spirit.

Msafiri Zawose / Tanzania / Limba, Zeze, Filimbi, Percussion, Vocals
Msafiri Zawose is currently one of the most admired Gogo musicians today. His father, Hukwe Zawose (1938-­2003) was a musical giant, an influential figure in post­-independence Tanzania, head of a large musical clan, a master musician and one of the most mesmerizing performers ever seen. Born into a family that honors and values tradition, Msafiri is determined to preserve this rich musical heritage. Msafiri has mastered a wide variety of instruments from marimba (balafon), zeze (Gogo two­stringed violin), ilimba (pentatonically tuned thumb piano) and ngoma (traditional drums). He has a transient voice spanning a wide range of styles and sounds, transporting his listeners to a different world.

Nader El Shaer / Egypt / Kawala, Keytar
Nader Eshaer was born and raised in the coastal and musically diverse climate of Port Said, Egypt. Having never received formal training in music, he started playing accordion at a young age, switching to Ney as a teenager before discovering a deep connection with the tone of the Kawala. Nader is a master of Maqam, the modal musical tradition of the Middle East, but also listens to extensively and plays music from India, Turkey and East Asia. Nader has performed internatinally and all over Egypt, in events ranging from classical to traditional to Shaabi.

Roza Kifle / Ethiopia / Vocals
Ethiopian vocalist and songwriter Roza Kifle grew up listening to the sounds of her mother singing around the house and began studying music at 14. She has since performed throughout Ethiopia with Zemen Band, Millennium Band, Lubak Band, Mahari Brothers, Imperial Majestic Band among others. Roza has opened shows for legendary Ethiopian musicians including Mahmoud Ahmed and Alemayehu Eshete and has sang with Teddy Afro, Mikael Belayneh and Jah Lude.

Saleeb Lowza / Egypt / Vocals
Born in Minya Egypt, vocalist and percussion Saleeb Loza has a deep knowledge of coptic church hymns and has toured throughout Europe and the Arab world. He is currently working on Tawasol project, helping people to learn through Art.


The Nile Project
Sunday 19 June 2016 / Islington Assembly Hall / 19:30
Tickets £22.50 plus booking fee


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