Following unanimous critical raves for their 2013 debut Clychau Dibon, classically-trained Welsh harpist Catrin Finch and Senegalese kora maestro Seckou Keita delivered a triumphant second album with 2018’s album SOAR, again charting inspirational common ground between seemingly disparate traditions. Thematically inspired by the osprey – the magnificent raptor recently returned to Wales after its persecution to near extinction 400 years ago – and its annual migrations between Europe and Africa, the album’s intoxicating, often improvised synergy captures a magical meeting of minds and talents within a borderless musical landscape.
The harp occupies a vital place in the incredibly rich cultures of both West Africa and Wales, and both nations share a centuries-old bardic tradition of intricate oral history, expressed through music, song and verse. Following a chance collaboration in 2012, Finch and Keita have been creating music that not only champions these exquisite instruments but blends elements of new and old music from the Western Classical, Celtic and Senegalese song traditions; revealing a striking common thread between different cultures and times.
Themes of migration - natural, enforced and economic - run throughout SOAR, drawing deep on the sometimes darker history of these two great musical nations. “Like the iconic raptor, it swoops and soars to capture the bird’s very essence,” says Dave Haslam, in his 5* review for RnR Magazine, “SOAR is as near to perfection as it is possible”.
Their live performances have garnered 5* reviews from both the Guardian and The London Evening Standard and prompted Songlines Magazine’s Tim Cumming to describe them as “...one of the most popular world music acts of the decade”. SOAR went on to win the prestigious fRoots Critics Poll Album of The Year 2018, Best Fusion Album in the Songlines Music Awards 2019, and Best Transregional Album in the Transglobal World Music Charts 2019. The album was nominated for ‘Album of the Year’ at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards 2019, where Catrin and Seckou also won ‘Best Group/Duo’ and Seckou was named ‘Musician of The Year’.
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