Monday, February 9, 2009

CD Review: The Sun of Eritrea [2 CD]

Tsehaytu Beraki
Selam [2 CD]
Terp Records

Born in Quatit, Eritrea in 1939, Tsehaytu Beraki has been playing the krar (a five/six-stringed lyre) and singing for several decades. After experiencing political and civil unrest for most of her life, she found peace in Holland. In fact, the double-album title 'Selam' means 'peace'. This is a massive collection of 17 songs running over two-and-a-half hours in length. She sings in Tigrinya and Tigre languages. All the songs possess vocals, but she is backed by back-up singers, drummers, hand-clapping, and double-bass on some of the tracks. This is not your typical electronic or pop dance release typical of modern Middle East of African music. This is traditional music with vitality -- a sound for every generation. The songs are political, but also deal with love and relationships. English lyrics are provided for each song. Additionally, a 36-page booklet details the origins of her music, along with an interview and history of Eritrea. Several black-and-white and colored photos are included of her early music performances, performers, maps, and cityscapes. There are also comments from other Eritrean musicians about her music. In the notes, Tsehaytu recalls a comment by fellow musician, Osman Abdulrahim, "Miss Tsehaytu is like a golden masinko...[one-string bowed lute] and shines all over Eritrea like a sun". In this regard, Tsehaytu's talent is evidenced by her extensive playing abilities and rigorous practice sessions. Let the sounds of Eritrea brighten your day...and for days to come! ~ Matthew Forss

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