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Awards for World Music 2007 - Newcomer
Etran Finatawa

Etran Finatawa album cover
Many a music fan’s first glimpse of Etran Finatawa (‘The stars of tradition’) will have been at a summer festival, where they could have been forgiven for thinking there had been a major mix-up backstage, resulting in two completely different bands appearing on the same bill. At the same time. And such a first impression isn’t so wide of the mark …

“On va chantez ensemble! Ce n’est pas difficile,” exhorts Ghalitane Khamidoune, perhaps addressing his colleagues as much as the audience. His electric guitar and shiny brown turban and robes identify him as a Touareg tribesman. He’s joined by two other similarly dressed performers, plus three very tall, androgynously dressed Wodaabe men with ostrich feathers billowing from white turbans, and long flowing dress-like garments, their faces strikingly divided by vertical yellow lines.

Fusion isn’t always such a good idea, but this one seems particularly natural and inspired. The strange but wonderful group has its origins in the music scene of Niger’s capital Niamey, where a combination of war and drought has forced many nomadic people to settle in recent years. Historically, these two distinct ethnic groups have sometimes found themselves in conflict over competition for scarce resources, and racism. But in a blue-sky thinking move, Ghalitane’s group Etran N’Guefan (‘the Stars of the Dunes’) joined forces with the groundbreaking Wodaabe performance group Finatawa for a joint show at the legendary Festival in the Desert in neighbouring Mali in 2004. The gig was so well received they decided to merge their ensembles – hence the hybrid name.

The cultural yin and yang of this combination also works its magic on their debut CD, Introducing Etran Finatawa (2006). The raggedly distorted ‘desert blues’ guitar lines and loping camel rhythms of the Touareg musicians are given extra bounce by the Wodaabe drums and stiff-palmed clapping, and Touareg ‘calls’ are met by wailing Wodaabe responses on each others’ folksongs. Even though they speak very different languages, the two musical traditions complement each other well. Etran Finatawa are the latest and best dressed exponents of a wave of sub-Saharan nomad bands, who, like Tinariwen and Tartit before them, are conquering new territories with music as their only weapon.

Jon Lusk

Etran Finatawa on the World Music Network
Read other people's comments then Tell us what you think:

Ady, Witney
Saw them at Wychwood Festival- blew me away -better than Tinariwen I thought.

Tony Skipper Coventry UK
Saw the band early this week in Coventry and was very impressed. However if anything I prefer to listen to the 'introducing' CD to the live performance. The recorded sound is sharper and the rhythm more driving. My recommendation is get a copy and chill out.


It was a wonderful-suprise evening when I was invited by a friend to watch this group performing. I didn't know anything about them, which was good because I've learned from inside-out, i.e. after "feeling" I learnt. They are really good, simple, almost humble and yet very touching.

Nilcéia - Florianópolis/Brasil
Etran Finatawa mostrou em suas canções no CD "Introducing", quão interessante e maravilhosa e sua cultura. Nós Brasileiros, tão distantes, agradecemos por aprender um pouco sobre este povo através deles.

Sarah, London
Please add to my comments of a few minutes previous if possible, thanks:Etran Finatawa have just completed a tour of festivals in Australia & New Zealand and are currently in Brazil

Sarah, London
Heard them in Niger and UK in 2006. Never tire of their captivating sound. Their hypnotic songs embrace both the magic of nomadic life and the essential bonding required for survival in the extreme hardship of the desert. Uniquely the polyphonic chants of the Wodaabe are wrapped into the rythmic guitars of the Touareg. Underpinned by the tinde and two calabas drums their music produces an unique metaphor of life on the edge.

Tariq Khan, London
I borught the record because it look interesting and I was blown away by the stunning music. I have over 2000 cds and I have to say that it is one of the best I have in my collection and can't stop listening to it. All the tracks are stunning and the are mesmering live, I saw as a free gig in Virgin Megastore. I urge eveone to buy the record. The are million times better than tinawiren. I hope they get the award

terry andrews, banbury uk
Saw them at Womad UK. Just brilliant.CD sounds stunning when played loud.Will travel to see them again

Kate, Bonn
A good CD, and a very enjoyable live performance - under the stars in Niamey, Niger! Etran Finatawa have come a long way in a very short time and this award would be a fantastic testament to their achievements.

Ron White
Fascinating, unexpected, creative.

Eddie Punch, Freiburg, Germany
I saw and heard Etran Finatawa at WOMAD 2006 in Reading. Both their indoor workshop and main stage concert were amasing. Also the extremly friendly and open attitude of the whole group during the workshop question time was totaly refreshing. I became a fan at first sight !

Manahuna, Berlin
Etran Finatawa are exellent! Saw them live at the Tacheles in Berlin last summer...and hope they win the Award.

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