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World Music CD Reviews Middle East & North Africa


By Tom Pryor
Published September 27, 2005

Sweet Nomad Girl: Folk Music From Afghanistan
Metier World

Abdul Wahab Madadi is one Afghanistan’s most renowned singers of traditional music, which was exactly the kind of thing that could’ve gotten you killed during the reign of the Taliban. Luckily, the Herat native weathered that storm and emerged as an important voice in his war-torn country’s attempt to rebuild and reclaim its fragmented cultural heritage. In 2001, after the fall of the Taliban, his composition “Watan,” or “Homeland,” was the first song broadcast on Radio Afghanistan after a five-year ban on music was lifted. On Sweet Nomad Girl, Madadi works with husband-and-wife team John Baily and Veronica Doubleday, ethnomusicologists who’ve done their share of fieldwork in Afghanistan. Together the three focus on the local music of Heart, bringing the Herati dutar, a two-stringed, long-necked lute, to the fore. Don’t let their academic credentials throw you, though. Some fine musicianship went into this project, bringing these old songs alive as they explore their quiet, hypnotic power.