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Country Nile Basin Genres acoustic fusion roots Website www.nileproject.org Festival Sauti za Busara 2014 Recordings
Aswan, 2013 (https://soundcloud.com/nileproject)
For millennia the Nile has sowed lands of human, ecological, and cultural beauty. Weaving together Egyptian and Ethiopian modal systems, the polyrhythmic styles of Lake Victoria with the influence of the Mediterranean, patient melodies of the deserts and pointed melodies of the highlands, the river's 4,200 miles yield a wide range of songs and dances expressing stories, emotions, and daily life. Bringing together musicians from Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya, Rwanda South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda, The Nile Project intertwines these traditions into a unified sound.
The collective first gathered for a two-week residency in Aswan, Egypt in January 2013, during which they collaboratively composed a new body of songs drawn from the Nile Basin's diverse musical traditions and instruments. The result was their first album, Aswan, recorded live at their debut performance. The collective's six vocalists sing in 11 different languages on the album.
Their lyrics range from the deeply personal to the party anthem, exploring themes of identity, regional solidarity, intercultural relationships both between and within their respective homelands, their local music scenes, and living in the diaspora. A powerful pan-Nile percussion section drives the collective, which reunites traditional instruments of ancient common ancestries and merges new ones. The plucked harp (lyre) and spike fiddle have formed the heart and soul of the Nile's musical identity for millennia, and modern versions of both instruments are found in every country along the Nile Basin.
The former is represented on Aswan by the Sudanese masenkop, Ugandan adungu, and Egyptian simsimiya and tamboura, while the latter manifests as the Ethiopian masenko and Ugandan endingidi. In curating the collective, co-producers Mina Girgis and Miles Jay sought to highlight the unique timbres of these instruments, while also surrounding them with complementary sounds from their respective traditions, including the Ethiopian saxophone, Egyptian ney, oud, and violin, and the bass guitar. At a moment when riparian tensions over the proposed Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam have captured headlines around the world, The Nile Project offers an innovative model for cross-cultural dialogue and cooperation.
The world's longest river runs through the political boundaries of eleven countries and touches the lives of 300 million people, but over the past century East Africa's leaders have struggled to find ways to preserve and share this critical resource. Founded by Egyptian ethnomusicologist Mina Girgis and Ethiopian-American singer Meklit Hadero in 2011, The Nile Project responds to these challenges by inspiring, educating, and empowering Nile citizens to work together to foster the sustainability of their shared ecosystem. With its power to inspire curiosity, generate empathy, and promote dialogue, music is the Project's natural starting place.
By exposing local audiences to the cultures of their river neighbors, the Project's music provides a space for them to learn about each other and create a shared Nile identity. Building on this awareness, the Nile Project is developing educational programs, an online dialogue platform, and a Nile Prize to incubate innovative solutions to the region's cultural and environmental challenges. They will convene their next annual music residency in Uganda in January 2014.
NILE PROJECT MUSICAL LEADERSHIP MINA GIRGIS, Executive Director, Mina Girgis is an ethnomusicologist and entrepreneur who specializes in curating and producing innovative collaborations across diverse musical styles. In 2011, Mina created The Nile Project - a musical-environmental initiative to inspire, educate and empower Nile citizens to work together to foster the sustainability of their ecosystem. He is the founder of Egypt's Arts Enterprise Network. Mina writes about music education, arts entrepreneurship, applied ethnomusicology, the representation of Gypsies within the World Music industry, and the role of music in the Arab Spring.
MILES JAY, Musical Director, is a multi-instrumentalist and composer, dedicated to developing the role of his primary instrument, the contrabass, in Arabic, Turkish, and Greek music. From his roots in Jazz and Classical music, Miles followed his love of Mediterranean music to live and work as a musician for the past 6 years in Egypt, Lebanon, and Crete, with artists including Youssou N'Dour, Naseer Shamma, Ziad Rahbani, Ross Daly, Zohar Fresco, Niyaz, Ali Jihad Racy, Zeid Hamdan, and the Cairo Opera Orchestra.