It's not just the countless opportunities to pen passive-aggressive blog posts about strollers: we're lucky to live in Park Slope. Fr'instance, Celebrate Brooklyn brings to the steps of our brownstones one of the best world-music series in the country. That means if we're open to it, we get exposed to talented musicians who aren't even Minnesota transplants to Brooklyn! We get artists like Souad Massi, the genre-bending, courageously political singer-songwriter from Algeria who will occupy (vague political reference!) the bandshell Saturday (doors, 6:30, free show, $3 suggested donation per usual).
Let's start with the sound: Massi's got a malleable voice, stretching from the low, sultry whisper of a love song to stuff calling for some pipes. My female-singer-crush vibes got going pretty quick on first listen. Massi's vocal range works atop a perhaps even more impressive array of musical influences, with instrumentation, rhythms, and sounds from across the globe -- Algerian and Andalusian musical foundations, Western classical strings, flamenco guitars, and flourishes of Indian and African traditions. Check out the sultry sound of 2003's "Ghir Enta," her vocals enriched by the mysterious quality of the deep drum sounds:
Okay, that's a lot of spices, enough to make things pretty delightfully rich. But, lest I scare you off, the real superstructure here is Western folk. That makes her a smart choice from the BRIC folks: enough of the world to expand our horizons, but not so unfamiliar that we get lost. There's still guitar chords and stuff.
Here's a somewhat more uptempo, live cut from her latest album, 2010's O Houria:
Do you want to marry her yet? Well, let's kick up the romance a notch. Massi is a political expat. She not only sings the baby-makin' songs, she speaks out against political repression in her native Algeria. Massi herself, due to threats (of censorship and/or death, depending on which source you Google), fled Algeria for Paris after fronting a political rock band, Atakor. She's now a successful European performer, but still gives a voice to her native countrymen and women.
This will be Massi's first show in the US since 2004, and also marks the 50th Anniversary of Algerian Independence. NYC-based Palestinian violinist Simon Shaheen will open.