The music that became known as Ethio-jazz is a compelling fusion of traditional styles with funk, jazz and soul. Its creator, Mulatu Astatke, has a musical history rivalled by few and he heads to Southbank Centre as part of Africa Utopia festival for a one off London gig at the Royal Festival Hall on Saturday 13th September 2014.

Trained at Trinity College London and Berklee College of Music in Boston, he has contributed music to the film work of Jim Jarmush (Broken Flowers, 2005), been sampled by the biggest names in hip-hop from Nas to Kanye West and has played to audiences of thousands at festivals around Europe.

Combining the rhythms of his homeland with arrangements reminiscent of the great Gil Evans and late Ellingtonian tone poems, Mulatu’s first international release,Sketches of Ethiopia, was rapturously received.

Mulatu has also toured with US band Either/  Orchestra in 2006 and in 2008 recorded an album with the  Heliocentrics and completed a Radcliffe Institute Fellowship  at Harvard University, where he worked on modernizations  of traditional Ethiopian instruments and premiered a portion  of a new opera, The Yared Opera.

Following 2012’s sensational first edition, Southbank Centre’s Africa Utopia is back in 2014 to look at what can be learnt and celebrated from Africa and the African Diaspora. Taking place from September 11 – 14, the weekend long festival  looks at how African art and ideas can change the world for the better and how Africa can lead the way in thinking about culture, community, technology, fashion, sustainability and ethical wealth creation. More information on the wider programme can be found at www.southbankcentre.co.uk

Other music highlights at Africa Utopia festival include Simply Soweto Encha (12 September) who will celebrate South African oral and dance traditions mixing Zulu, Xhosa and Tswana songs, full of rhythm and harmonies, gospel, soul, jazz, doo-wop and R n’B. Discovered in Johannesburg, they have been touring internationally since 2008. Homage to Magool (12 September) , a touring concert to mark the 10th anniversary of the death of Magool, Somalia’s most popular singer,  will bring together some of the UK’s leading contemporary Somali singers to celebrate her legacy. The show features the well known Somali singer Farxiya Fiska, the first Somali artist to have YouTube hits exceeding 1 million.  She will be joined by Birmingham-based Nimco Degan, who is considered one of the most authentic voices of Somali music.


Mulatu Astatke

Royal Festival Hall

Sat 13 September 7:30pm, £20, £25 

For Africa Utopia press information and for review or interview requests please contact:

Nicola Jeffs, Press Manager:

Nicola.Jeffs@southbankcentre.co.uk / 020 7921 0676

Hugo Mintz , Press Officer:

Hugo.mintz@southbankcentre.co.uk / 020 7921 0917

Southbank Centre Ticket Officewww.southbankcentre.co.uk / 0844 847 9910

Southbank Centre is the UK’s largest arts centre, occupying a 21-acre site that sits in the midst of London’s most vibrant cultural quarter on the South Bank of the Thames. The site has an extraordinary creative and architectural history stretching back to the 1951 Festival of Britain. Southbank Centre is home to the Royal Festival Hall, Queen Elizabeth Hall, Purcell Room and the Hayward Gallery as well as The Saison Poetry Library and the Arts Council Collection. For further information please visit www.southbankcentre.co.uk

Africa Utopia TV media partners for 2014 are the Africa Channel.  The Africa Channel broadcasts award winning television inspired by Africa, available on Sky 209 and Virginmedia 828.


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