Paul Simon Takes Us Back: Under African Skies

Paul Simon Takes Us Back: Under African Skies

Under African Skies is a brilliant, must-see documentary by the renowned filmmaker Joe Berlinger, which was created on the occasion of the twenty-fifth anniversary of the release of Paul Simon’s seminal album Graceland. The documentary won the 2012 SXSW Audience Award in the 24 Beats per Second Category and is the only music film to win an Audience Award. Berlinger intertwines both sides of a complex story as Simon returns to South Africa for a reunion concert with the original Graceland musicians, which unearths the turbulent birth of the album.

Paul Simon’s historic Graceland album sold millions of copies and united cultures, yet it also ended up dividing world opinion on the boundaries of art, politics and business. Despite its huge success as a popular fusion of American and African musical styles, Graceland spawned intense political debate. Simon was accused of breaking the United Nations’ cultural boycott of South Africa, which was designed to end apartheid.

While the album went on to be widely celebrated for its revolutionary mix of musical styles and for bringing the extraordinary gifts of under-exposed South African musicians to the forefront, many of the questions Graceland raised in 1986 remain. What is the role of the artist when society is in upheaval? Who does music belong to? Whose rules, if any, should artists play by? Do cultural collaborations matter? And what will be the legacy of Graceland’s indelible songs in a world that has since been politically, and musically, transformed?

Read more about Under African Skies in The New York Times here.

Paul Simon Takes Us Back: Under African Skies

Paul Simon: The Story of Graceland

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In Memoriam: Images of Notable People Who Passed in 2008

In Memoriam: Images of Notable People Who Passed in 2008

Music: Mavis Staples/Hard Times

In Memoriam: Images of Notable People Who Passed in 2008

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The Lives They Lived: The Music They Made

The Lives They Lived: The Music They Made

With the new year approaching, The New York Times has taken note of some of the lives that ended in the past 12 months.  This is their 15th annual Lives They Lived issue, which doesn’t claim to be comprehensive or definitive in their choices of the people whose lives are described. Instead, this is an unabashedly idiosyncratic collection, driven by the interests, passions and whims of their editors and writers, who hope that readers are moved, tickled, intrigued and provoked by reading about these 24 very different lives, all memorably lived.

In addition to The Lives They Lived, the Times presents The Music They Made, in the form of a musical sound collage featuring a sampling of the musicians who died this year.  The musicians presented include Odetta, Mike Smith (The Dave Clark Five), Rick Wright (Pink Floyd), Eddy Arnold, Isaac Hayes, Miriam Makeba, Nick Reynolds and John Stewart (The Kingston Trio), Buddy Miles and others.

The Music They Made: A Musical Montage

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