The crowd in the park gave out roars of approval as the next act was announced: Mothusi Bashimane Ndlovu, one of Zimbabwe’s most popular singers and actors, who took to the stage with a small axe in hand.
Elida Almeida is Cape Verde’s newest star, with thousands of fans in Africa and Europe. She sings, dances, plays the guitar, tells jokes, and makes her audiences laugh as well as groove. But behind it all, her music carries a serious message, about the importance of overcoming setbacks, avoiding unplanned pregnancy and following one’s dreams.
Standing in line for a concert at the Centro Cultural Fábrica de Arte, a cultural centre in the Cuban capital, Alexis Cruz anxiously checks his billfold, where he has the price of the ticket – 50 Cuban pesos (two dollars) - and three CUCs (equivalent to one dollar each) to buy something to drink.
Mushfiq Wali, a 22-year-old shoemaker in northern Pakistan, loves watching films in the local Pashto language. But he says the Taliban are a killjoy: their bomb attacks have led to the closure of movie theatres, again. “They don’t spare anything that brings happiness.”
Like almost everyone else in Gaza, these six are angry about the Israeli-imposed blockade and the resulting misery. Except that they are expressing their anger through music – without the music itself sounding angry.
For many years they could not sing, dance or play their favourite instruments. The performing artists of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of northern Pakistan lost their voice as the Taliban carried out terror attacks and banned music, calling it un-Islamic. But after tentative advances in recent months, the Pakistani province is alive with the sound of music once again.
The global economic crisis has not hit Serbia for the first time, but this year it has bitten into Serbian culture. State subsidies for theatres, festivals, films and exhibitions have almost hit the bottom. State support for films is down to zero.
Mozambique is proud home to not one, but two female rappers who are both qualified lawyers. Yveth “Vauvita” Matunza is striking. She is tall, wearing shoes with enormous stilettos. She has on full make up and a smart, tailored dress suit. She is doing her masters part time while working full time at the Mozambican Human Rights League offices - and rapping on her off time.
Another kind of war, less explosive than bombs and more subtle than night raids, is taking place in the Central Asian country of Afghanistan: a war of cultural influence. Its means are financial sponsorships and other support for cultural and artistic events.
They belong to the Amazon of Bolivia, where their people, the Moxena nation, are found, and they are brothers. Francisco and Alfonso Ichu Tamo came to this southern city to become the premier makers of musical instruments.
A group of young people walk down the streets of Chicago, broad grins on their faces. They have good reason to be happy: the ovations received by their repertoire of Latin American music when they played in the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela still echo in their ears.
Venezuela’s youth symphony orchestras that have enamoured audiences on several continents are a social programme aimed at fighting poverty and marginalisation, more than an artistic endeavour, says the founder of the initiative, José Antonio Abreu.
Venezuela’s youth orchestras have gotten used to wild applause and standing ovations in Europe.
But this time the warm reception was not for the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra, the most visible face of the National System of Youth and Children’s Orchestras of Venezuela
(FESNOJIV), a network of youth and children’s orchestras that has put instruments and music scores in the hands of 400,000 children and young people.
Environmental and community activists from Taiwan will enliven the United Nations Sustainable Development Conference, dubbed Rio+20, and the parallel People’s Summit, with one of the island’s most prominent social protest music groups, the Village Armed Youth Band.