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Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States | Established. Jan 01, 1979 | SELF

Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 1979
Band World Folk





Last night Tangier vibrated to the sound of seven American women performing music from the world over. Libana, making their inaugural Moroccan tour (Tangier, Tetouan, Rabat), was a rousing success at the 5th annual Tarab Tanger festival. From the very beginning, with a rendition of Yal Harbaan, an Algerian Berber song from the Aures mountains, the audience knew they were in for a special treat.

This all started last year at Tarab Tanger No. 4, when our annual AIMS conference participants attended a Berber music performance. Anthropologist Dr. Jane Goodman of Indiana University, a former member of Libana and co-organizer of the conference, mentioned Libana's longstanding dream of performing in Morocco. A year later, here they were at Tarab Tanger. And the audience was not disappointed.

Thanks to Jane Goodman's double duty as both performer and - in French, Amazigh, and Arabic - presenter of the group's repertoire, the capacity audience got an even better appreciation for the group's mastery of the music of a variety of cultures. Sung in languages as wide-ranging as Arabic and Quechua, the women of Libana have an uncanny ability to put themselves in the culture - and even the very register - of the women whose music they have TALIM Tarab Tanger ticketlearned through 35 years of performing across the world.

Close your eyes and you will be listening to enchanting music sung by women of India, of West Africa, of the Sephardic diaspora. Open your eyes and you'll see seven Bostonians at home in the world - and dancing in the costumes of the culture whose music they perform. Their enthusiasm for their art makes the audience move.

No more so than when they started ululating, their you-yous echoed by the Moroccan audience, young and old, and triggering the traditional wedding chant by women in the stands. Talk about winning hearts...

But the finishing touch was all-American: "Woke Up This Morning," a spiritual adapted for the Civil Rights struggle, where waking up "with Jesus on my mind" is replaced by "freedom on my mind." As Libana streamed off the stage to a standing ovation, the audience took up the "Hallelujah" refrain. What an exit!

So, in one evening in Tangier, seven women from Boston helped to spread their joyous vision of links across continents, and the US as a repository of an incredible diversity of cultures. Now that Libana has pioneered American participation in Tarab Tanger, the door is open to other performers from the US.

With the strains of "Woke Up This Morning" in his ears, we know that Tarab Tanger impresario Omar Metioui is already thinking about his dream for next year: an American gospel group. The planning begins... - TALIM Director's Blog


"...the audience kept asking for more, shouting bravo and rising to their feet..." -le Journal de Quebec

"World Class! ...a globe-circling sound... The music brings universal understanding across borders." - The Boston Globe (MA)

"Seven women from New England, all with an expansive view of world music, come to town with a collection of acoustic instruments that you may need a dictionary to keep track of...If Mars had a musical tradition, they’d probably be on top of that as well." - Santa Cruz Sentinel (CA)

"Anyone who enjoyed the recent `Le Mystere des Voix Bulgares' recordings should enjoy Libana, for not only does the group achieve the same haunting vocal harmonies, it also provides far more variety." - The Washington Post (DC)

"There's something otherworldly about the beautiful, ethereal singing of Libana..." - Minneapolis Star Tribune (MN)

"But the musical heart and soul of the show (Christmas Revels) is the six-woman ensemble Libana, Boston-based world music specialists whose close, penetrating harmonies and intricate rhythms were riveting." --The Boston Globe (MA)

"For starters there is Libana, the women’s world music chorus. To have a sextet of strong, culturally knowledgeable voices at the center of this show (Christmas Revels) is such a boon. Libana has been around for 28 years, and its haunting, powerful voices can’t help but lead the community chorus in attitude and Balkan panache."
--The Boston Herald (MA)

"Their voices blend like the threads of a tapestry, creating pictures, blending colors, suggesting depth and sadness, expressing images of light and joy. This is Libana."
--The Fargo Forum (ND)

"...diverse, colorful, a wonder to behold..." - The Boston Globe (MA)

"Libana has collected accolades from far and wide. They have been called 'magical,' '...diverse, colorful, a wonder to behold...' and 'one of the top musical groups performing today.' Perhaps a critic from the Cape Cod Times said it best, though, when he wrote that 'their music makes you high. It swells the spirit as they swing into harmonies never encountered in American music.' "--The Southampton Press (NY)

"...fabulous and fascinating music…complex and compelling singing…one enthralling song after another…The diversity and depth of expression of Libana’s performance cannot be overstated, it was amazing..." - The Littleton Independent (MA)

"...a magical experience..." - Arts Boston (MA)

"Their multi-layered harmonies and their proficiency on indigenous instruments create a many-faceted, entrancing sound few world-music groups can aspire to."
- The Boston Phoenix (MA)

"Ensemble performs with verve...a joyous group." - The Plain Dealer (OH)

"Their music makes you high. It swells the spirit as they swing into harmonies never encountered in American music." - Cape Cod Times (MA)

"In concert... the group presents a joyously colorful image both visually and musically. Their concerts create a sense of peace, hope and joy -- that through understanding comes acceptance. Like the hand-painted scarves they wear, their music produces a colorful blend of images, patterns and rhythms simultaneously vibrating with individuality and resplendent in repetition."--Pleiades Arts North Magazine
- Review Quotes from the Press


National Public Radio: “Weekend Edition” of All Things Considered and “51%” syndicated show

Christian Science Monitor Radio: worldwide broadcast

WINGS: Sound logo for nationally syndicated WINGS (Women’s International News Gathering Service).

WBUR: Interview on “Here and Now”, WBUR Radio, Boston, MA.

WGBH: “Morning Pro Musica,” “Chamberworks” and “Off the Record,” WGBH Radio, Boston, MA

CPR: Live on “Open Air New England”, Connecticut Public Radio

WNEV: Music featured on “Evening Magazine”, WNEV TV, Boston, MA

WBZ: Live performance preview for First Night, Inc. of Boston, WBZ TV, Boston, MA

NBC: Theme music for TV documentary “America’s Children – Poorest in a Land of Plenty,” aired on 150 NBC TV syndicates and narrated by Maya Angelou

CBC: Nationwide Performance Broadcast on Canadian National Radio
- Radio and Television Highlights


“Whether moved to tears by their beautiful soaring harmonies, or lifted out of your chair by their pounding rhythms and dance, you will leave Libana’s performance feeling uplifted!” -- Chocolate Church, Performing Arts Center (ME)

"While Libana is making music you feel as if the world is at peace. Thank you to these women who bring us such moments of contentment and connection to beauty and life." - Mary Lynn, Puget Sound Revels (WA)

“If this often tattered world could be mended with music, Libana would be leading the global harmony...From dumbeks to dulcimers, Libana embraces instruments and vocals from around the world, and in doing so, becomes a world instrument of peace.” –The Robbie Collomore Concert Series (CT)

“The performance was brilliant.” --Music in Corrales Performance Series (NM)

"I rank Libana as one of the top musical groups performing today." - Thomas Wolf, Bay Chamber Series (ME)

“Some performances are breathtaking…Libana’s performance was breathGIVING…”
-Fabian Lochner, Sunbridge College Concert Series (NJ)

“Thank you for such an inspiring and enriching set of performances you gave at Bridgewater State College. The songs and dance associated with the exhibit, ‘Through the Eyes of Nigerian Artists: Confronting Female Genital Mutilation’ were wonderfully appropriate, linking artistic traditions and cross-cultural concerns with dignity, women’s agency and rights in the face of terrible suffering. The larger performance was powerful, educational, and beautiful, showcasing so many cultures, through instruments, costume and your gorgeous singing. The evening remains with us, and you played such an important part in it.” -- Diana Fox, PhD., Coordinator, Women’s and Gender Studies Program, Associate Professor of Anthropology, Bridgewater State College (MA)

"Libana was a delight! Their passion for the music they shared was contagious, and we felt transported to the countries whose music they were playing with great authenticity. The variety and quality of music, as well as the energy in the room, made for a very special evening." - Vicky Gordon, UU Binghamton, NY

“Libana’s recent performance at my children’s school, the Belmont Day School was, quite simply, exquisite. As a member of the arts enrichment committee who participated in the decision to bring Libana, I was thrilled to attend their assembly and watch the reaction of students and faculty. It was a complete multicultural program in every way, featuring songs and dances from all over the world highlighting everyday topics, as well as hope and spirituality. All of Libana’s women are so adept at their art, not only in that their playing and singing is outstanding, showcasing gorgeous harmonies and instrumental work, but also in that their articulate explanations of the song's origins painted a picture that truly brought to life the cultural context of each song, inviting us to visit the country whose music was being showcased." --Rosi Amador, Sol Y Canto, Music Amador, and Belmont Day School Enrichment Committee Member (MA) - Comments our past presenters have shared!


“Your music is such an important gift to people the world over.”
–L. G., after a concert for a Delegation of Israeli Women (MA)

“I can hardly express to you my profound admiration of your work with Libana. I regard it as a hugely noble and adventurous enterprise. Libana is among the finest things left afloat in the world, and may it ever thrive amid all the mess we live in!” --A. K. Former Choral Director at Hampshire College, (MA)

“I can't imagine a world without Libana.” -- I. M., Co-developer of Guitar Hero

“You guys gave me goosebumps, right from the start!” –C.D., (Cape Breton, Nova Scotia)

"I want to thank you so much for your amazing presence at the AOSA National Conference in Milwaukee last week. You are truly amazing women. Congratulations on being AOSA's newest advocates! After the Philadelphia and Rochester conferences where I was so moved to see others filled with your light, it was a deepest joy to be able to be in your sessions last week and be a part of the magic you weave. – K. M., (WI)

"I've been into international folk music for some time now. Upon listening to your Bulgarian tune, it sounds as if you were Bulgarians! Have you been there? The same goes for the Hungarian czardas, Armenian song and Lebanese "belly dance" music. Each number sounds like its being performed by a different group of voices! It sounds that way because of the authentic portrayal of each nation. Magnificently done...thanks." –J. V. (NY)

“Your music reached beyond time and generations. It was so much more than an auditory and visual delight. It was deeply spiritual. ” – S.T., (WA)

“Your music enlarges the soul.” –L.W., (MA)

“What a gift you have to offer on behalf of women around the globe—we’re so lucky to have you come to our community.” –J.C., (WA)

“In a time when there is so much painful discord, Libana joyfully shares love around the world.” --S. D'A., (WA)

“Skin-rippling beauty.” –K.R., (CA)

“You're like none other—beyond beautiful! WAY beyond." –J.S., (MA)

“If I were Empress for a day, I would elicit a dictum that everyday upon waking one must tune-in to Deep Peace (from Night Passage) rather to their alarm clock.”--N. Di G., (MA)

“Your group’s music has been a source of joy and strength for years. . . thank you for years of inspiration. At our nearby Waldorf school, in people’s houses and cars, in singing groups, your work is being spread out in ways you will never know.” --L.G., (TX)

“I was so moved and inspired by your passion, spirit, and amazing musical gifts—I am on a high that will last for days!” –E.M., (MA)

"Thank you for an inspiring joyful day. I have listened to and sung some of Libana's music but never experienced you all live. It was a truly a feeling of renewal, and deep peace. You are all such twinkling beings....your love and commitment to the musical experience is both as group and individually so powerful. Many thanks for caring for this work and helping us to know it all the better". –C.S., (NY) - We often receive lovely input from our audience after a concert!


August, 2011

To Whom It May Concern:
There are few artists who are equally as at ease in performance as they are in teaching students. During Libana’s one week residency, my students were fortunate to experience both the artistry and the highly developed pedagogy of a world-class ensemble. Libana has left an indelible and unique impression on the students at the American Embassy School, New Delhi, and I would highly recommend Libana to any other school who values world music and cultural/social mindfulness.

Musically, Libana brought a vibrancy and passion for world music that is infectious, and evoked within the students not just a renewed sense of appreciation for the different musics of the world, but also a more profound curiosity about how music and music makers are the same and yet different throughout the world. The women’s performances for students were inspiring as well as inspired. As an educator in an international setting and as a musician, I appreciate the dedication with which this group of women goes about understanding culture and the culture of songs. Their deep cultural understanding is something that the Libana members are highly successful in conveying during performances and when teaching.

In the classroom, the women, led in their educational endeavors by Marytha Paffrath, immediately engaged the students in active music making and cultural exploration through song. During the week, students at AES were asked to do so many of the things that musicians around the world do: sing, play instruments, create movements and respond to the music they heard and performed. Consequently, students came away from the week with a richer level of understanding of what musicians do, and what music teaches us about others and ourselves.

The highlight of the weeklong residency was a collaborative program during which students in all three school divisions performed with the women of Libana. Students in elementary school performed an energetic and rhythmically exciting drum piece, song and dance from West Africa. Students in the middle and high school choirs performed choral pieces from Eastern Europe with careful attention paid to the stylistic accuracy of their performance. In addition to including our students in their performance, Libana wowed the international audience with their repertoire of songs from around the world.

Conveying such a powerful experience as Libana’s residency at AES through words is an impossible task. Spending a week with these artist/culture bearers brought so much that is beyond words to our school, and it is with great appreciation to the members of Libana that I recommend their excellent artistry and teaching to any school that may be considering inviting this world class group for any kind of performance or educational residency.

Douglas Beam
Primary Grades Music Specialist (
American Embassy School, New Delhi, India
- American Embassy School, New Delhi, India


Through the Darkness (2019)

Instrument of Peace (2013)

Turning (2009)

Out of This World (2004)

Night Passage (2000)

Borderland (1993)

Fire Within (1990)

Sojourns (1989)

A Circle is Cast (1986)

Handed Down (1985)

Libana also appears on two compilations: Welcoming Children into the World (1999) and Lullaby (1994)



Riveting, transformational and soul stirring, Libana's performances take listeners on a musical journey reflecting the universal human experience uniting us all.

Interweaving music, dance and story from such divergent cultures as the Balkans, Africa, the Middle East, Asia, South America and Europe, Libana's artistry speaks directly to the heart, inspiring audiences around the globe with wonder at the beauty, breadth and wisdom of our worlds cultural diversity and common humanity.

Over thirty-five years ago, a group of women sharing a passion for international music, dance, and womens' issues formed the global music ensemble Libana. Inspired by Judy Chicago's groundbeaking exhibit The Dinner Party, Libana took their name from a woman of the same name honored by the artist-- the 10th-century Moorish poet, philosopher, and musician -- symbolizing womens' creativity, vision and spirit throughout time.

From ancient traditions to contemporary creations, from the political to the spiritual, Libana's international repertoire covers a vast musical spectrum expressed with stunning close a cappella vocals and an impressive palette of instruments including oud, charango, saz, guitar, hammered dulcimer, panpipes, accordion, dumbek, djembe, frame drum, dholak, tapan, clarinet and double bass.

Libana believes deeply in the power of song, the rhythm of the drum, and the spirit of dance to connect people across cultural difference--creating a bridge of the heart. Their commitment to the artistic expression of the global community has inspired dynamic cross-cultural understanding, profound healing, and widespread peacebuilding.



- World Music Concert Series (Boston, MA)
- Tarab Tanger World Music Festival (Tangier, Morocco)
- US Embassy sponsored joint concert with Moroccan women's ensemble Ikhlas (M'diq, Morocco)
- Artists-in-Residence, American Embassy School (New Delhi, India)
- Ravi Shankar Centre (New Delhi, India)
- American Cultural Center (New Delhi, India)
- Barefoot College (Rajasthan, India)
- Bourgas International Folklore Festival (Bulgaria)
- Varna International Folklore Festival (Bulgaria)
- Women Waging Peace International Colloquium (Cambridge, MA)
- International Orff/Schulwerk Music Educators Conferences (Milwaukee, WI, Rochester, NY, & Philadelphia, PA)
- National Kodaly Association of Music Educators Conferences (Wash. D.C. & Williamsburg, VA)
- Canadian Museum of Civilization (Ontario, Canada)
- U.N. General Assembly International School Conference (New York, NY)
- The Smithsonian Museum Concert Series (Washington D.C.)
- Philadelphia Folk Festival (Pennsylvania)
- Clearwater Festival (Valhalla, NY)
- Old Songs Festival (Altamont, NY)
- Britt Festival (Ashland, OR)
- Strathspey Performing Arts Center, (Nova Scotia, Canada)
- Bay Chamber Concerts (Rockport, ME)
- Music in Corrales (Corrales, NM)
- Yale University (New Haven, CT)
- University of Wyoming (Laramie, WY)
- Wellesley College (Wellesley, MA)
- Cedar Crest College (Allentown, PA)
- La Pena Cultural Center (Berkeley, CA)
- Whidbey Island Center for the Arts (Langley, WA)
- The Christmas Revels (Cambridge, MA)
- The Kripalu Center (Lenox, MA)

"World class! A globe-circling sound...the music brings universal understanding across borders." -The Boston Globe

"Haunting Vocal Harmonies...a marvelous tapestry of instruments and voices." - The Washington Post

Band Members