Café del Mundo is a comforting collection of music by exceptional singer-songwriters from 11 countries. Relaxing in a café and conversing with friends while drinking a cappuccino or café au lait is one of life’s simple pleasures. And, whether you’re in São Paulo or San Francisco, great music is an essential ingredient of the experience. Café del Mundo offers an escape from the hustle and bustle of daily life without having to travel thousands of miles.
In recent years there has been a burgeoning global singer-songwriter movement that has provided soundtracks for the world’s cafés. This is exemplified by the opening track by Les Frères Guissé, brothers who hail from the Fouta region of Senegal whose gentle vocal harmonies backed by acoustic guitar and hand percussion draws on Peulh traditions with modern influences to create a new type of contemporary African folk music.
Kelvis Ochoa first gained attention outside of his hometown in Las Tunas, Cuba both for his versatile voice as well as his shocking red hair and goatee. Ochoa and Descemer Bueno, a genius of modern Cuban music, have created a romantic ballad that demonstrates their songwriting, vocal and recording skills. From Cuba we travel to the Piedmont region of northern Italy near the French border where Gianmaria Testa’s contemplative lyrics and soothing voice have earned him a devoted fan base in France, Italy and increasingly around the world.
Next we travel Scotland to hear Julie Fowlis, a Gaelic singer whose beautiful voice was introduced to the world through her work on the Disney Pixar film Brave. Sheprovides a lovely version of Paul McCartney’s “Blackbird” in an ancient Celtic language. Les Babacools, from Germany, build on the work of other leaders of the Spanish and French “mestizo” (mixed) music movement such as Manu Chao. Their blend of irreverent lyrics, funky flamenco, reggae, ska, punk and Latin grooves with an artistic, politically active and independent spirit have garnered many fans.
Mónica Giraldo blends pop and jazz elements with the Latin traditions she grew up with in Colombia. Her desire to “…bring a new sound to Colombian music” is evident in “Gran Intento” from her 2014 release Que Venga La Vida. Cameroonian singer-songwriter Blick Bassy fell in love with jazz and soul music at a young age and this has influenced his music over the years. He’s stated, “I want to blend the beauty of my Bassa culture and its musical traditions with other music that inspired me and create my own soulful sound.” Also from Africa, Razia Said has led a nomadic life, but she returned to her homeland of Madagascar and produced her first album shortly thereafter which also combines traditional and contemporary African and western elements.
Indonesian artist Rita Lestariani composed her album Akhimya on the beautiful beaches of Bali. Singing was more than a hobby for Lestariani; it was a way of achieving her dreams. She put herself through college by performing in cover bands in the bustling Indonesian city of Bandung. Fernando Lameirinhas was born in Porto, Portugal but his musical career really took off after moving to Amsterdam during which time he rediscovered his roots in Brazilian popular music and Portuguese folk. Katharine Mehrling is not only a singer-songwriter but a well-known actress in her homeland, Germany. Her love of Edith Piaf and chanson in general is reflected in her recurring roles as the French diva. With “Beschäftigt mit dem Blues,” Mehrling gives a German touch to the blues.
The album closes with Pascal Lejeune, a singer-songwriter from New Brunswick, Canada. After initially struggling as a musician, he opened a café but was eventually lured back to pursue a musical career.
Café del Mundo features a traditional Colombian recipe for Chocolate en Leche de Coco, a hot chocolate made with coconut milk that is perfect to sip on while listening to the album.