Born in a small village in Madagascar, Razia and her music are steeped in that island nation’s culture, but were also shaped by her peripatetic life around the world.
Her latest album, The Road, is in a sense, a road back to her early life in the quiet northeastern village of Antalaha. Unlike her 2011 breakout album, Zebu Nation, which was more elaborately produced, The Road is principally a more intimate, acoustic set of songs, with her warm slightly raspy voice front and center. The main melodic accompaniment is a nylon-string guitar, which gives the album a breezy lilt not unlike some of the pop music of Brazil.
Somewhat belying the soft, pretty sounds of the album is the heartfelt messages of some the songs. A long-time environmental activist, Razia has tried to raise awareness of the destruction of the Madagascar’s flora and fauna.
Razia was born and raised in a small town in a region known for growing vanilla beans. At 11, she made the first of several moves because of her family situation, living in Africa, Europe, Asia and eventually settling in New York City where she started her musical career and then relocating again to St. Lucia. All the time, she stayed connected to Madagascar, raising worldwide attention to the environmental damage being done to the unique ecology there.
In addition to a couple of love songs, The Road looks back on the land of her birth. Riding the upbeat salegy rhythms of “Antalaha,” she paints a picture of an idyllic small town and its happy denizens, hurried along by the nimble guitar work of featured collaborator Raledy.
Featuring guest West African electric guitarist Lionel Loueke, “Filongoa” playfully strings together Malagasy proverbs with a subtle but infectious swing, painting a nostalgic picture of a culture that prizes peaceful collaboration and collective action. “People who are separated create sand/Together we create stone/Respect improves the friendship/But most of all, do not fight.”
She ends the album with “Nave,” another song about Antalaha. Set to an effervescent, relentless rhythm, she sings of her own homecoming; being with families, neighbors and visiting the beach in a bucolic and thoroughly welcoming setting.
Come and join the fun
Even if you are just visiting
Come on let’s go
We are all Malagasy
Every day is a celebration
While The Road is a unique album from a unique artist, its sounds would be broadly appealing to fans of other, more well-known artists such as Cesaria Evora, Gilberto Gil or Susana Baca. - Marty Lipp
Find the artist online
Find out more about the enviromental group, Wake Up Madagascar