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Gigi

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Album Review

There are essentially two schools of thought when it comes to world music: the purists who believe that ancient musical traditions must remain undiluted to survive, and the fusionists who believe that it is the ability of artists to adapt their cultural traditions to modern tastes that will allow them to survive. Though often blasted by traditionalists for his trademark world music collusions, bassist/producer Bill Laswell has done a remarkable job of straddling the lines dividing these two camps, working with world music favorites like the Master Musicians of Jajouka, Simon Shaheen, and Foday Muso Suso to concoct heady stylistic brews that update their respective traditions for 21st century audiences. Laswell's latest discovery is 27-year-old Ejigayehu "Gigi" Shibabaw, a stunning Ethiopian singer whose self-titled debut establishes her as one of Africa's most accomplished young artists. Her mellifluous vocals are backed by an impressive multicultural lineup that includes Laswell on bass; guitarist Nicky Skopelitis; saxophonists Wayne Shorter, Pharoah Sanders, and Henry Threadgill; and percussionists Aiyb Dieng and Karsh Kale. But the emphasis here is on Gigi's voice, which moves from soaring melodic passages to a breathy falsetto over songs that combine her native traditions with elements of funk, dub, soul, and West African and Indian sounds. From the exuberant buoyancy of "Gud Fella" to the syncopated urgency of "Aynama" to the beautifully soulful balladry of "Adwa," this is the rare debut that sounds like a fully formed artist, ready and eager for her time in the international music spotlight.

Customer Reviews

sweet voice, sweet song

1st heard GiGi through local college broadcast today...... I'll be buying more from her. She has a very nice voice and sings with conviction....although I can't undersatnd one word. I just really enjoy her music. In late 80's half of what I listened to was world music now it seems harder to find. Please itunes more world music.

Utopia brought tears to my eyes

Seriously, I couldn't believe it. But she alternates the languages she uses in this song, and during a part I couldn't understand, how shocked I was to feel my eyes stinging and my heart aching. Her voice must have actually touched my very soul, I put my hands over my heart...and SOBBED! You wonderful artist. Your gift must be moved and guided by the Divine. Gob bless Gigi and all of her efforts.

Best

This is Gigi's best album so far. Almost every single song is great.

Biography

Born: 1974 in Ethiopia

Genre: World

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Ejigayehu Shibabaw, better known as Gigi, is one of the few singers from the Horn of Africa — the first since countrywoman Aster Aweke, in fact — to break through with a major-label release. Gigi grew up in rural Ethiopia, listening to traditional and church music, before moving to the capital, Addis Ababa, when she was 14. There, her musical horizons broadened, hearing the local pop music "and all kinds of American music we could get on the radio. After that I went to Kenya, and there...
Full Bio
Gigi, Gigi
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