3:02pm

Tue December 27, 2011
Music

More Favorite Music of 2011: Day 3

Among memorable winners this year -- the eclecticism of South African Johnny Clegg and the natural, beautiful voice of Midwesterner Mare Wakefield (I’m inexplicably gaga over one of her songs)...

A Denver-tour favorite, South African singer Johnny Clegg is called The White Zulu because he mixes Zulu with English lyrics. His wide-ranging album, Human, launches one song with bagpipes ("Manqoba") and features the Soweto Gospel Choir in another ("Asilazi"). He sings about the witchcraft that in-laws will accuse a new wife of until she bears a child ("Tears"), and about the brokenness yet resilience of people in the song, "Hidden Way Down," inspired by the life of the late Senator Ted Kennedy. I’m drawn to Clegg’s noble themes of dignity and liberation, and his use of infectious rhythms.

Author's Note: This album was released in late October 2010, but was deemed one that might otherwise 'fall through the cracks' in our musical roundup. The added time for distribution by music labels and for in-house review may cause a time lag in airing albums.

Here Nelson Mandela dances on stage in this 1999 concert which includes remarks by both Clegg and Mandela.

Favorites are just that, someone’s subjective take. So, this next artist may not be everyone’s cup of tea but one simple song haunts me (in a good way) and has to be among my top ten new *songs* for 2011. For that reason alone, I’m citing Mare (pronounced, Mary) Wakefield’s album, Meant To Be. The song, “Small Town, Oklahoma” is neither profound nor wholly original in its country feeling. However, it captures a nostalgia and place with lovely instrumentation (especially that piano in the mix), wistful melody and evocative words.  I’m now looking forward to sampling Wakefield's other four albums of the last 15 years. By the way, she and her pianist husband met at music school in Boston. In this older 2009 video they talk about their different approaches on the path to making music together.

Have we overlooked a favorite of yours? Please tell me... More of my 2011 picks tomorrow.  -PJ

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