It’s been done before: two artists from the same country come together and combine the classic with the contemporary. But besides bringing together backgrounds, generations and styles, this musical meeting bridges religious differences; and mostly it unites two sides of a devastating civil war.
From southern Sudan comes Jal, who started singing in ’98, and has rocketed since the success of his 2004 debut solo. So it’s hard to imagine the history of this young Christian rapper, who at the age of 7 was abducted by the People’s Liberation Movement, and forced to train as a soldier. By 9 he was fighting battles, but with the help of an aid worker he managed to escape, and finished his education in London and Nairobi, where he now lives.
Salim, an elder statesman of northern Sudanese music and a master oud player, has been composing and performing for over three decades. He’s also suffered through his country’s civil war. While playing at a club in 1994, he was severely wounded by a religious extremist, who killed the singer Hussein Khogali and stabbed several people.
Jal raps in English, Arabic, Kiswahili, and Nuer, with a chant-like, low-key, restless intensity; while Salim’s strong vocals and intricate oud mastery add earthiness.
With honesty and uncontrived optimism, they honour what each has to say, so “Ceasefire” works! Besides, it’s greater than a cross-cultural collaboration and much more than an album – this is world peace in action, it’s the triumph of the spirit and a miracle made public through music!