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Music  >>  CDs  >>  International

Bi Kidude

Zanzibar

Bi Kidude Zanzibar
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Originally released in 1998. When Bi Kidude died in 2013 none of the many tributes paid to her could state her age with any certainty. She herself hadn't known for sure, but researchers calculated that she was over 100 years old even though she was still giving concerts in the last year of her life. This much is factual: that Bi Kidude was born on the island of Zanzibar when it was still a sultanate and that in the 1920s she became known as the Queen of Taarab, the Swahili music of the East African coast and Indian Ocean islands. A featured singer and dancer with several of the top taarab orchestras, she toured widely over four decades before settling down in Zanzibar, where she became a sort of priestess, guiding girls through puberty rites. In the 1980s she resumed touring, traveling through the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and Europe with the Twinkling Stars, the Taarab All Stars, and Shikamoo Jazz. The recordings on this album were made in Zanzibar, Tanzania; Dar es Salaam, Tanzania; Berlin, Germany; Helsinki, Finland; and Reading, England. In addition to definitive performances of taarab classics, the album includes a very rare field recording of an unyago girls' puberty rite, with Bi accompanied by an all-female chorus and drum corps.
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