Review: The Voice Within


Kinobe is an artist at the cutting edge of contemporary traditional music from Africa. Born in Uganda, now living in the United States, Kinobe has done something rare. In addition to mastering the Baganda traditional arts he grew up with, like playing the deep-toned buzzy endongo lyre and the endingidi one-string fiddle, he has gone beyond ethnic and national boundaries to study a wide range of traditions. Kinobe first heard the Mande korain a concert by Baaba Maal in the Netherlands in 1995, and a few years later he arrived in Bamako, speaking no French or Bambara, but determined to learn to play this unusual harp, which he had fallen in love with. Toumani Diabaté told Kinobe that no Anglo-African had ever come to study with him and his legendary family. Not only did Kinobe come, but he returned, multiple times to learn ngonibalafon and tama (talking drum), as well as kora. And he is now considered a part of the Diabaté family.

On his second solo album, Kinobe plays all these instruments and also the akogo, a member of the kalimba/mbira family of instruments from eastern Uganda, and the adungu a harp from the country’s north. Over the course of 19 tracks, Kinobe constructs meditative, deeply engaging songs, sometimes featuring a single instrument and his soft, clear voice, and sometimes creating beautiful juxtapositions. Beyond the musical innovations, Kinobe proves himself a soulful songwriter, singing solo and in harmony in multiple languages, including English, and addressing topics of profound importance to Africans and all who care about Africa.

Read the full review on AfroPop.

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