Pioneering Women in Music

In all styles, in all places, there are strong women who craft songs just as well as the fellas. In celebration of International Women’s Day 2016, we present a playlist of great female composers and performers – from the big band era to the present – who breached the status quo to share their art, and in the process have divined a more equal world:

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The Slept-on Beauty of the Balkans

Her roommates get all the attention:  Serbia is known for its brass bands, Turkey, for its psych guitar-rockers, Romania, its gypsy folk music.. But Bulgaria (yes, she’s a lady– her middle name is Sofia) plays all of these styles with dignified grace.

Bulgarian history is amongst the richest in all of Europe

Bulgarian history is amongst the richest and most ancient in all of Europe

Oddly enough, the only internationally-known group from Bulgaria is a women’s choir (daringly named the Bulgarian State Radio & Television Female Vocal Choir) whose album The Mystery of Bulgarian Voices was discovered by indie UK record label 4AD in 1986 (11 years after its original release) and unleashed into the global ear.  More albums and heroine addictions followed.  An unlikely story, but once you hear the sublime juxtaposition of angelic voices and dissonant harmonies, you’ll understand why Bulgarians are considered some of the best vocal-chordists of the human band:

Our sampling of Bulgarian sounds also features some blazing punk, classic rock ‘n roll, old school hip hop, new wave rumba, and the world’s most frenetic wedding band… they’ll have you puking on the dance floor in no time.

The Ivo Papasov Wedding Band. DO NOT touch his clarinet.

The Ivo Papasov Wedding Band. DO NOT touch his clarinet.

HEAR PART 1- THE GLOBAL MIX HERE

HEAR PART 2- THE BULGARIAN MIX HERE

The Big World Band, and Kiribati: Aqualand

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Presenting ancient music of the future!  This week we are joined in the studio by musical mastermind John Oliver, composer and guitarist in Vancouver’s magically sublime Big World Band.  We discuss the inception of this renegade project, the balance between tradition and innovation, and the spectral journey into cultural cross-pollination.  John also presents live recordings from recent performances, describing how the songs were carved into existence.

Hear the interview here.

CATCH BIG WORLD BAND LIVE AT THE MASSEY THEATRE THIS SATURDAY!

Next, we take a trip to the Micronesian nation of Kiribati, a lovely scatter-shot of islands (atolls, to be precise) in the west central Pacific Ocean.  Kiribati’s days are numbered, as it will be one of the first countries to be swallowed up by rising sea levels.  I suppose Kevin Costner may be a prophet after all..

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But the music and people of Kiribati will live on (possibly in Fiji).  Unexplored by Europeans until 1892, Kiribati’s music is uniquely unaffected by external influence.  As far as we can tell, the i-Kiribati (strangest demonym ever – seemingly sponsored by Apple) have no traditional musical instruments.  But they discovered long ago that the bare body makes a thumpin’ percussion sound when combined with high-octane group chanting!  Hear this and some (slightly) more modern sounds in our musical ode to a Commonwealth brother.  On behalf of all Canadians, we would like to invite the displaced people of Kiribati to our polar opposite paradise.

Hear our feature on Kiribati here.