various artists,
Global Soul
(Putumayo, 2003)

Global Soul makes it easy to be charitable. Its cross-cultural initiative is to unite the world in a collection of fabulous, intoxicating, smooth-as-a-Bond-martini songs that leave one shaken and stirred. Each piece enables the listener to be engaged in an experience that allows one to be charitable because a portion of the proceeds are donated to the Putumayo Cross-Cultural Initiative, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the Tides Center, which works to promote cross-cultural understanding among children of the world. Thus, buy the CD and act locally, and everyone benefits globally.

The CD is encased in a little treasure of a booklet that gives extensive background information on each artist and piece, and also delineates each country represented. The countries are France, South Korea, Brazil, Cameroon, Tanzania, USA/UK, Senegal, Germany/South Africa, Italy and Canada.

The French group, Melgroove, is one of the leading R&B acts there, led by two female singers and backed by their song's composer. The song, "J'attendrai," is lush and sweet as honey, with a groove that evokes Sade. Interestingly, Melgroove's members are originally from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and their African roots are an integral part of this Euro-African genre.

Fernanda Abreu, the diva of Brazilian funk and soul, has gone through a variety of musical styles, initially as a member of the Brazilian rock band Blitz. Like Dusty Springfield before her, sadly, deceased, or Blondie and other singers with a long history of performance and stylistic changes, Abreu has a strong funky style that owes much to Stevie Wonder, as well as other artists. Her voice is sultry, strong and undated -- she has been on the music scene in Brazil for over 20 years. Her song, "Eu Quero Sol (I Want Sun)," could well become the theme song of those in the U.S. who are sick of the nasty behavior of El Nino!

Bruno Beausire, also known in France as Doc Gyneco, or Dr. Gynecologist, has been compared to Eminem, and uses humor, poetry and social commentary, as well as significantly raunchy lyrics to rate mention in the French press. His heritage, like others on this CD, is mixed, in that his parents are emigrants to France from the Caribbean island of Guadeloupe. Ironically, even though he is considered to be "risquŽ," he still lives at home with his mother. The lyrics of his song "Caramel" reflect his surreal vision and stream-of-consciousness sensibilities in a most revealing way: "I came down with the caramel color/Pass me some rolling papers and a cigarette to mix together/To make the planet Earth turn under a green sun." It is fun to reflect that a little bit of Cheech & Chong still lives on in the body of a young man born in 1974!

"1 Giant Leap featuring Speech, Neneh Cherry and Ulali," is a truly global project in that British artists Duncan Bridgeman and Jamie Catto were able to convince Chris Blackwell, who developed Bob Marley, U2 and other musical careers, to finance a worldwide journey where they worked with Kurt Vonnegut, Michael Stipe of REM and Dennis Hopper, as well as other singers, to put together an innovative CD which is represented here with the song "Braided Hair." Bridgeman and Catto unite with the rapper, Speech, Neneh Cherry and a female Native American group, Ulali, to sing about the ties that bind us all together. It is a lovely piece of work, and one that brilliantly combines US/UK forces to wonderful effect.

This review lists merely a few of the talented artists on this CD. It is a CD that inspires, uplifts, knocks your socks off and will appeal to an international audience of humans united in their love of unique music.

- Rambles
written by Ann Flynt
published 12 April 2003

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