Christine Salem – the rousing, deep-voiced singer from the Réunion Islands, where the dead speak to the living – makes her Nippertown concert debut at the Sanctuary for Independent Media in Troy at 7pm on Tuesday (October 8), singing haunting music that is at once dangerous and beautiful.
La Réunion is an island where the barrier between this world and the next is very thin. And that’s the space that Salem’s music inhabits, “where I can talk to the ancestors,” she explains. Her latest album, Salem Tradition, indeed sounds like music from another place – hypnotic and transcendent, yet still grounded.
Until 1981, the music that Salem sings was illegal in her homeland. Maloya, as the style is known, was considered too dangerous. It’s the music of slaves brought to the island in the Indian Ocean from Africa to labor on the sugar plantations, passed on to their Creole descendants.
“It’s very percussive music,” Salem says, “and the root is very traditional, very African. It’s unique. It’s the music of the slaves.” Filled with drumming and chanting, the music offered the comfort of ritual, and those singing it would often go into a trance and come face-to-face with their ancestors. Unsurprisingly, the Catholic Church hated it all. “They thought it was the music of the devil,” Salem laughs.
But after all, the devil has all the best tunes…
BUT WAIT… Have we got a deal for you! We’re giving away a pair of FREE TICKETS to the show to a lucky Nippertown reader! To enter the contest, just post a comment below. Please leave your email address, too. We won’t publish it, but we’ll use it to contact you if you win. The deadline to enter is 12noon on Tuesday (October 8), and the winner will be selected at random and notified on Tuesday afternoon. Enter today! And good luck! Congratulations to the winner, who has been notified by email.