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Malaika is a four-woman vocal group that sings music from around the world. Based in Ottawa, Canada, Malaika consists of Neema Mugala (soprano), Lee Hayes (mezzo-soprano), Beth Ferguson (alto), and Stella Haybukhai (bass). These women blend their diverse musical and cultural influences to create fascinating musical collaborations of traditional and original material. Malaika's captivating rhythms and richly interwoven harmonies, combined with genuine warmth and natural humour, create an overwhelming audience response wherever they perform. Malaika's repertoire includes songs of social struggle, African music, traditional folk songs, gospel tunes and pop songs, with some jazz, country and even a Japanese love song thrown in! While much of the material is in English, the group sings in many other languages including French, Swahili, Portuguese, Xhosa, Swedish, and Japanese. The group works democratically, with everyone sharing in the songwriting, the arranging, and the lead vocals.

Beth and Lee bring their experience as singer-songwriters to the group. They are strong solo performers, and are key figures in Writer's Bloc, an Ottawa songwriting collective. Though both grew up in the Ottawa area singing folk, pop and blues, they have shown a great propensity for singing the music of other cultures in a variety of languages. Stella and her younger sister Neema, who grew up as daughters of Tanzanian diplomats, have lived in various places throughout the world, assimilating by osmosis the music and culture of these lands. As a result, they are very adept at singing in any musical style. Stella and Neema are the lead singers in Cheza, a world beat band with a strong following. In addition, Neema performs in the Voices of Praise gospel choir, and is the director and lead singer in the Sifa Choir, a 15-person group that performs African traditional music.

The four women met in November, 1993, and decided to learn a few songs together just for fun. From their first outing, the group experienced intense public demand for their music. As their repertoire and experience continued to grow, they eventually acquired a name, chosen by Stella in a moment of inspiration just before a performance at the Stone Angel in August, 1994. (Malaika means "angel" in Swahili). Since those early days, Malaika has appeared at festivals, clubs, and concert halls from New York to Vancouver and from Santa Fe to Dawson City. Malaika has made main stage appearances at the Winnipeg Folk Festival and the Summerfolk Festival, and were featured at the Philadelphia Folk Festival in August, 1997. The group has opened for The Nylons, and has been featured on ABC TV's Good Morning America In June 1996, they held two concerts at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa to celebrate the release of their album, "Malaika Live", produced by Ross Murray and Ian Tamblyn. A music video of the Lee Hayes composition "What Is Love?" was shot in Vancouver in July, 1996.

Malaika was selected as an official showcase act at the North American Folk Alliance in Toronto in Februrary, 1997. Two of their songs were recorded by the BBC at that conference for broadcast in the UK on the program "Folk On 2". As a result, Malaika will be travelling to England in November to record a full program for the BBC. In April, 1997, at Vancouver's Web Cafe, Malaika became the first female a cappella group to have their concert broadcast live on the World Wide Web.


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Malaika : To Paradise : 1 CD : 

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Malaika : To Paradise

Review: Four lovely Canadian women with roots in Africa and Mexico form Malaika, an upbeat, reggae/bluesy World group. This is a live CD, and the songs include: "Zeze," "Georgia Come Home," "Home To Mexico," "Survival," "Always," the tongue-in-cheek "I Should Have Been David Duchovny's Bride," "Pilipili," "Beautiful Girl," "Who Is Safe," "Family Matters," the "Sound of Music" song that was never written, "In Vienna," "To Paradise" ("Show me the way to Paradise, Escape the games, run from the lies"), a stunning arrangement of "All In The Game," and "Come Home Someday" ("Maybe I'd open up my patio door to a beach scene that's never been found"). This is honest music, blue-collar, in survival, coping with aging, no movie happy ending, but we can still dream on, laugh and celebrate life, music. We can relate, and judging by the audience response, so can everyone who hears Malaika. A breath of real, tropical, fresh air from Canada!

Songlist: Zeze, Georgia Come Home, Home to Mexico, Survival, Always, I Should Have Been David Duchovny's Bride, Pilipi, Beautiful Girl, Who is Safe, Family Matters, In Vienna, To Paradise, All In The Game, Come Home Someday

6907c | 1 CD | $14.98 | A Cappella World Music CDs

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