Angolan music has its share of famed female voices. Belita Palma, Lourdes Van Dunem, and Dina Santos from the golden years of semba in the 1960s and 1970s, Nany and Clara Monteiro from the 1980s, as Gingas do Maculusso from the 1990s, and in the 2000s Yola Araujo, Yola Semedo and Perola, among a long list of other contenders. The most recent debut, Aline Frazão, draws deeply from the earliest generation and from a wealth of other sources, trans and circum-Atlantic. Unlike her predecessors, she was born in Luanda but currently resides in Santiago de Compostela, in Galícia, Spain.

Her first CD, Clave Bantu, is an independent production of eleven songs, all but two written by Ms. Frazão. The other two, Amanheceu (Dawn) and O Ceu da Tua Boca (The Roof of Your Mouth) were written by the highly regarded Angolan writers Ondjaki and José Eduardo Agualusa, respectively. With Frazão on guitar and vocals, Carlos Freire (Galícia) on percussion and Jose Manuel Díaz (Cuba) on bass, Clave Bantu evokes and returns to patterns that structure the rhythms of African musics and those of the African diaspora.

This video is for the first song on the album Assinatura de Sal (Salt’s Signature). Shot in black and white, it nicely underscores the clarity of the arrangement and the brightness of Frazão’s voice and the percussion:

In January Ms. Frazão was interviewed on a Portuguese television program called “Ethnicities.” Her unflappable poise in the face of the interviewer’s flattery and leading questions says much more about her decision to move from Portugal to Spain than her direct answer to the interviewer’s query about re-locating to Portugal. As the album cover shows, with birds so easily alit on her tresses, why would she settle in Lisbon or thereabouts and subject herself to the pigeon-holing practices of post-colonial Portuguese paternalism?

Further Reading