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New York City, New York, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2010 | INDIE | AFM

New York City, New York, United States | INDIE | AFM
Established on Jan, 2010
Band World Afropop


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"Razia, Zebu Nation Album Review"

With all apologies to Ben Franklin, there are three certainties in life: death, taxes and Cumbancha. The first two are more famous, certainly. The last is a relatively new phenomenon, and a much more enjoyable one. And the Charlotte-based world-music imprint’s latest release, Zebu Nation by Razia, reiterates that everything label founder Jacob Edgar touches turns to gold. So, if it’s on Cumbancha, it’s certain to be well worth your time.

Razia Said is originally from Madagascar, and the album is something of a love letter to her native land. The singer left the country as a child, returning three years ago to discover her homeland ravaged by slash-and burn agriculture. In response, Said created Zebu Nation, writing songs primarily in Malagasy, her native tongue, and enlisting many of the country’s finest musical talents to contribute.

The disc opens on “Babonao.” Dozzy Njava’s lilting acoustic guitar is met by throbbing bass and percussion. Fluttering just above the surface, Rabesiaka Jean Medicis’ accordion flits breezily amid the Indian Ocean groove. Abena Koomson and David Rajaonary handle the vocal heavy lifting here, and through the album’s first four tracks.

We actually don’t hear from Said herself until the fifth song, “Ny Alantsika.” Once again, accordion takes the lead melodically — this time courtesy of Regis Gizavo. The instrument lends the tune, as much of the album, a distinctive European flair, providing a fascinating contrast alongside the traditional tsapiky and salegy influence at the album’s heart.

“Slash and Burn,” which comes next, is the only song written in English. It’s also the most direct condemnation of the brutal deforestation in Madagascar. While other tunes essentially decry the tactic by celebrating local culture, here Said’s anger is intense and explicit. Initially, the song feels a little out of place, the switch to English jarring. But viewed in the context of the recording as a whole, Said’s message becomes all the more profound when spoken plainly.

But the disc’s quieter, less fiery moments are its finest, and ultimately its most touching. Through songs such as “Omama,” which recalls growing up in a small vanilla town, or “Tiako Ro,” a heart-to-heart chat with the Sun, Said lays bare the soul of her culture. And, language barrier or not, her humble musings represent a universal truth even Ben Franklin couldn’t deny: Home is where the heart is.

Zebu Nation by Razia is available at Cumbancha.com and major online music retailers.

http://www.7dvt.com/2010razia-zebu-nation - Seven Days

"Razia, Zebu Nation Album Review"

The zebu is the breed of hump-backed cattle common in Madagascar, and the fauna and threatened ecosystems of her island nation are on the mind of singer Razia Said on this groovy, cosmopolitan album that doubles as environmentalist manifesto. The one song in English, “Slash and Burn,’’ makes the agenda clear, as do the beautiful videos Razia has posted online for several of the tracks in local languages. But this is also a narrative of return: Razia left Madagascar as a child and has lived on four continents, making her home in New York for more than 20 years. “Zebu Nation’’ results from a trip to Madagascar criss-crossing the island with an entourage of Malagasy and overseas musicians. Its sound is suitably hybrid, a far cry from the Malagasy roots that briefly hit the world-music market in the 1990s. Local elements like accordion and handclap patterns blend with Western guitar and even a touch of sitar. And insistent, hypnotic rhythms (“Mifohaza,’’ “Babonao’’) share the bill with ethereal ballads (“Omama,’’ “Tsy Tara’’) that give the album a consistently seductive, if occasionally unplaceable, feel. (Out tomorrow) SIDDHARTHA MITTER

http://www.boston.com/ae/music/cd_reviews/articles/2010/02/22/razia_zebu_nation/ - Boston Globe

"Razia, Zebu Nation Album Review"

Nouvelle découverte de Cumbancha, la chanteuse Razia Saïd devrait bientôt se retrouver sur les scènes québécoises. Malgache d'origine et nomade de condition, elle est retournée en 2007 dans sa grande île de l'océan Indien, y trouvant une panoplie de rythmes et y constatant la destruction culturelle et la dévastation de l'environnement. Ce disque est donc un appel à la survie. Un acte d'amour par lequel Razia retrouve des rythmes dansants comme le tsapiky ou le salegy, qu'elle marie à des climats plus doux, mélodiques, facilement accessibles à l'oreille occidentale, portés le plus souvent par une lutherie pop. Le grain de soul délicat dans la voix, Razia Saïd chante l'urgence sur des cadences qui peuvent devenir frénétiques, choisit parfois la complainte et la berceuse pour parler de la nature, se rapproche de l'esprit oriental dans une pièce, laisse aller l'accordéon aérien de Regis Gisavo, se laisse pénétrer par des accents bluesy. Un joli disque.
Yves Bernard

http://www.ledevoir.com/culture/musique/284304/vitrine-du-disque-5-mars-2010 - Le Devoir

"Razia, Zebu Nation Album Review"

FT.com / Arts / Music - Razia: Zebu Nation
Razia: Zebu Nation

By David Honigmann

Zebu Nation
4 star rating

The singer Razia Said has made a long journey back to Madagascar. Aged 11 she left the Indian Ocean island for Gabon, and ended up in New York.

Zebu Nation is an expatriate’s musical homecoming, accompanied by local heroes Regis Gizavo on accordion and Dozzy Njava playing intricate marovany, the Malagasy box lyre. Said conjours aching melodies, especially on “Omama”, which pays tribute to the grandmother who raised her in a small Vanilla town. Elsewhere, she condemns the slash-and-burn farming that is wrecking the island.

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/d0cdb16e-15e6-11df-b65b-00144feab49a.html?nclick_che&nclick_check=1 - Financial Times

"Razia, Zebu Nation Album Review"

Cumbancha is run by Jacob Edgar, compiler for Putumayo. Until now, his best records have been licensed from Ivan Duran's Stonetree Records of Belize (Andy Palacio, Umalali) . This new one matches the quality of those Stonetree productions, but Razia is from Madagascar where she returned to make this impeccable album with with some of the island's best musicians, including accordionist Regis Gizavo and guitarist Dozzy Njave. Judging from her portrait on the cover, Razia is beautiful, and it is easy to imagine that she will have a similar impact as a live performer to the Cape Verde singer Mayra Andrade. Razia has a very easy-on the-ear tone which slips easily into the background. Singing fast or slow, she wins every round.

http://www.charliegillett.com/bb/viewtopic.php?f=27&t=13892&sid=0ad056a1905a216cb5b9ce4de47fce43#p79092 - Charlie Gillet (Mondomix)


Zebu Nation - 2010 - Cumbancha

Streaming at http://www.cumbancha.com/razia

Akory- in progress release planned for september 2014



Singer and songwriter Razia Saids nomadic life has taken her across Africa to France, Bali and New York City, but despite these wanderings, her heart and soul remains inexorably tethered to Madagascar, the land of her birth. Her musical explorations have also been wide ranging, and over the years Razia has experimented with French chanson, rock, jazz and R&B. But it took reaching back to her cultural roots for Razia to uncover her true artistic calling as one of African musics most promising talents.

With the album Zebu Nation, Razia has created an inspiring collection of songs that draw deeply on the music she heard growing up in the town of Antalaha in northeastern Madagascar. The source for the worlds most prized Bourbon vanilla, Antalaha is one of Madagascars wealthiest communities, although there remains a great gap between rich and poor. Razia was born on December 1, 1959 when her mother was just a teenager and not yet ready for the role of parenting. To diffuse the scandal, her mother was sent to the Comores Islands and Razias grandparents raised her in a bustling household filled with relatives. Razia first heard the infectious rhythms of local salegy music blasting out of the towns ubiquitous radios. It was one of Razias older uncles that first introduced her to French music as well as The Beatles, James Brown, Jimi Hendrix and other Western stars. Her uncle even invited her to sing the latest French pop songs on stage with his band when she was just ten years old.

Believing that her grandparents were her parents, Razia was in for a shock when she learned at age eleven that Aunt Hassanatte who regularly visited from the Comores was actually her mother. In fact, by that time Razias real mother had married a French architect and wanted Razia to join them in the West African country of Gabon. Suddenly, Razia was uprooted from the world she knew and traveled on an epic journey through Dar Es Salaam, across the Congo River to a new life and family. In Gabon, Razia discovered that the local church had a choir, but one had to be Catholic to join, and Razia was raised a Muslim. Music was far more important to her then the details of which God she prayed to, so she begged her mother to allow her to convertwhich she did. Razia was also exposed to the funky grooves of Fela, Pierre Akendengue, Papa Wemba and other African artists who were popular in Gabon at the time.

After three years in Gabon, Razia was sent to boarding school in southern France, where she first started learning to play guitar. Seeking economic stability, Razia received her doctorate in Pharmacology and moved to Paris. But her passion remained with the arts, and in Paris, Razia made a living through modeling, acting and occasional music gigs. In 1987, Razia moved with a lover to New York City, and they worked odd jobs in order to earn enough money to spend three months a year living in Bali, Indonesia. Over the years, Razia also lived in Ibiza and Milan, working as a stylist, an actor and in fashion, struggling all the while to find her own musical direction.

Eventually, Razia met and married Jamie Ambler, a musician, filmmaker and advertising creative director, and he worked with her to record her first album. While Razia was happy to have gotten some of her songs recorded, the pop-oriented, English-language R&B and jazz direction left her unfulfilled. Razia had been traveling often to visit her family in Madagascar, and after she had a chance meeting with members of Njava, one of the countrys best bands, she decided that she needed to record songs in the Malagasy language and inspired by the rhythms, melodies and instruments she fell in love with as a young child.

Thus began the long and challenging process of recording Zebu Nation. Work began in 2006 In Belgium, where Njava was based, but Razia felt that the only way to truly capture the sound she was looking for was to bring the producers to Madagascar to record with local musicians in the right setting. For six weeks, they traveled around the island, and discovered along the way the environmental damage taking place as the result of unfettered slash and burn agriculture and climate change. Razias longing to protect and preserve the environmental and cultural heritage of her homeland permeates the songs on the album, and gives Zebu Nation a powerful, real-world significance.

But even after the trip to Madagascar, there was much work to be done to finish Zebu Nation, and Razia and Jamie spent the next couple of years working with a range of producers and musicians, such as Malagasy guitarist Dozzy Njava, accordionist Regis Gizavo and a number of top New York-based musicians to craft an album that captured Razias particular musical vision. Thanks to an intense attention to detail, strong sense of style and unwavering devotion to the craft of Malagasy music, Razia created an exceptional album that will surely catapul

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