The dance of Heaven's ghosts
February 11, 2007 8:32 AM   Subscribe

I have a strange affection for the syrupy, slightly outdated, epic-sounding vocal pop of female singers like Eleni Vitali (Greece), Selda Bagcan (Turkey), Lata Mangeshkar (India), and the like. Who else would you recommend in this line?

Priority is given to non-Western and/or non-English-speaking artists. If there's a particular "golden period" to an artist, please indicate as such if you happen to know.

Some caveats:

- I prefer older material (1920s-1970s) and don't care for much with electronics or ultra-contemporary production, but if something is truly exceptional (and not too indebted to the generic "global pop/worldbeat" sound), I'll be interested.

- I've covered some of the more obvious choices in (melo)dramatic female vocal music, and as such, am already conversant with Edith Piaf, Umm Kulthum, Melina Kana, Sussan Deyhim, Dunya Yusin, Diamanda Galàs, and pretty much everything recorded in Bulgaria since the 1950s. And I don't need any more Bollywood. :-)
posted by mykescipark to Media & Arts (7 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
If you like Umm Kulthum, you might like Fairuz.

If you like Diamanda Galas, you might like the stuff she's influenced by, especially Greek rembetika singers like Sotiria Bellou.

If you like the Bulgarians, maybe you would be into the Scandinavian stuff: Varttina, Loituma, Hedningarna, Garmarna?

How about Africa? There's lots of good stuff from Mali (Oumou Sangare, Kandia Kouyate, Sali Sidibe) or Eritrean singers like Helen Meles and Faytinga.

Do you like Fado? Flamenco?
Susana Baca, Cesaria Evora, Carmen Linares, Amalia Rodrigues, Mariza?

(apologies for Western spelling and lack of accents)
posted by bink at 9:46 AM on February 11, 2007

You need to hear some Sezen Aksu (Turkish). My favorite song of hers is Gidiyorum.
posted by whatzit at 9:59 AM on February 11, 2007

Ofra Haza -Yemeni
posted by Gungho at 10:22 AM on February 11, 2007

Is trying an option? You enter the name of an artist/song, and they recommend (and play) other similar artists.
posted by Solomon at 11:51 AM on February 11, 2007

Response by poster: bink - Great list. I've heard every single one of the non-Africans you mention; I haven't really tried out much in the way of Eritrea, though. I like what I've heard of the Mali stuff, but that's more in the vein of modern Afropop and not quite as windswept and widescreen-nostalgic as the sort of things I'm thinking of. I love Ethiopian music as well, but it has a different flavor than the music I linked to in my original post.

I can't believe I forgot to mention the Sublime Frequencies releases as having some great examples of this sort of stuff - CD reissues of bootleg cassettes, radio broadcasts, and other arcana from musically underrepresented cultures.

I suspect that most of the music I'd be interested in has not been distributed or issued on Western record labels at all, or if so, then on the regional labels thereof (e.g., EMI Arabia).

whatzit, I will definitely check out Sesen Aksu. And Gungho, I do like Ofra Haza's earliest stuff (before she became too Westernized and overproduced).

Thanks all! Keep it coming...
posted by mykescipark at 11:53 AM on February 11, 2007

Best answer: Some Arabic singers you might also enjoy: Warda, Laila Mourad, and Asmahan.

From Turkey, you should check out Bulent Ersoy (even though she was born a man). Nilufer and Ajda Pekkan's earlier music might be to your liking, although they are a little poppier than some of the other singers you mentioned. Also, Linet is more contemporary with more polished production, but her voice is definitely epic.

If you like Ofra Haza, you might enjoy Ahuva Ozeri, Shoshana Damari (especially her earlier albums), and Bracha Cohen Ovadia, all of whom mixed Yemenite and Western music to different degrees.

Oh, and from Iran,Googoosh...her 70s material should be to your liking.

From Romania you might enjoy Romica Puceanu.

Finally, Joselito, a Spanish child star from the 1950s isn't a female, but meets all your other criteria. You might also enjoy Marisol, Joselito's female contemporary who had a longer career.

Actually, I just thought of one more: Marisa Sannia from Italy.
posted by ciocarlia at 3:12 PM on February 11, 2007 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Now we're talking! That flings me right off the usual radar, ciocarlia. Thanks for the excellent suggestions. I will investigate with impunity.
posted by mykescipark at 4:12 PM on February 11, 2007

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