Welcome to my blog! This is a space to find out a little more about me and my music.
Using the page links above you can:
- Read my bio
- View some videos -“All My Fine Shoes” is the only official music video, the others are just fun ways to experience a few of my other songs
- Download my CD or some favourite tracks
- Read some of the media commentary
- Find out about upcoming concerts -if I remember to post them
or just contact me by email
On February 4th, CBC Toronto presented A Celebration of Black History month at Trane Studio in Toronto. It was a double bill featuring Amai Kuda as well as singer-songwriter Kae Sun.
To listen to excerpts from Amai Kuda’s set, click on the song titles below.
From the Earth -Live at the Trane
Mikey-Live at the Trane
Lay it on the Ground -Live at the Trane
Woman -Live at the Trane
Down in the Delta -Live at the Trane
Amai Kuda:Sand From the Sea (independent)
The debut album from this Toronto artist opens with just her voice and handclaps: it’s all she needs to instantly establish herself as a captivating presence. The instant the fully fleshed out instrumental arrangements appear, it’s obvious those are just gravy. Kuda herself is the whole package.
Indeed, one of the biggest strengths of Sand From the Sea is that Kuda’s voice is always front and centre; the arrangements never clutter her space, and even on the modern-day R&B tracks she often strips everything to their essence, and more than a few tracks could be blues hollers or traditional African songs. Kuda draws from diverse black diaspora traditions — central African music, blues, hip-hop, reggae and soul — immersing herself in whatever sounds are surrounding her at the moment, never sounding like she’s trying on a new set of clothes. She also has the songwriting chops to pull it all off. For all its eclecticism, Sand From the Sea doesn’t sound like a hodgepodge; it’s a consistently strong debut that instantly marks Kuda as the brightest new Canadian talent this year.
And yet for Kuda — who is painfully modest in her blog postings on her website — it’s obvious that music is a means to an end for her: almost every track carries a message of social justice. Sometimes it’s extremely effective, sometimes it sounds like every activist musician you ever saw play a benefit show in the ’90s. Even at her preachiest, however, Kuda is still compelling, her voice recalling the best work of Tracy Chapman, Michelle Shocked, Alicia Keys and Lauryn Hill. She’s definitely her own woman, however: smart, sensual, and righteous — and with one hell of a debut behind her.
Reviews of this album will unfortunately tend to be dismissive. There’s no getting around the politically and culturally charged content of this disc ― the debut of the daughter of acclaimed novelist M. Nourbese Philip will make folks uncomfortable. This record is a descendant of Toronto’s dub poetry boom of the ’80s. It’s constructed of densely woven spoken, rapped and chanted words. Essentially it’s a folk record employing various North American and African techniques. Soul, jazz, blues and an extensive use of percussion are part of the conversation. Her politics are quite progressive and may simply be viewed as strident by some, but strong songwriting makes the difference as she explores social justice, sexuality, the environment and much more. The production adds deft electronics and complex yet driving rhythms to set the pace. The fact that there are few tonal instruments or keyboards makes for a less sweetened, but tastier, musical experience; it’s the vocals and percussion that make up most of what you hear. This hits too hard to ignore.
From an article in In Toronto on the top 5 recordings of 2011
BEST LOCAL DEBUT
Amai Kuda, Sand from the Sea (Independent)
This social activist (and daughter of the writer M Nourbese Philip) made a wise move when she decided to use music to spread her progressive messages about love, justice, anger and standing up for yourself. Kuda has a supple, expressive and lovely voice, and she needs little more than mesmerizing rhythmic backdrops (provided by percussion instruments, hand claps, drums, beats, finger snaps… you name it), vocal harmonies and the occasional acoustic guitar or keyboard to win over listeners with her synthesis of African folk, delta blues, spoken word, dancehall and gospel influences.
My first ever blog entry! hmmm…..not sure what to say to the world. let’s see… how about “Is Rob Ford for ******* real!??!?!” Like really, is this a joke being played on the city of toronto?!? and in a few months a proper mayor will come along and say….”April Fools! we were pulling your leg. just wanted to see how long you’d put up with utter nonsense in the place of leadership.” But then again, Bush was real, or at least the bombs he dropped on I-raq were. (Remember how he used to pronounce it?)
ANyways…i think i was supposed to be talking about my album, right….. so my album is about to be launched. I’m trying to fight the urge to curl up under a rock and say “sorry. it was all a big fat lie. I don’t sing. can’t perform. leave me alone”. yes, i have stage fright issues. (blog confession #1)
but really, i’m happy that it’s happening in many ways and I’m really moved by all the support from friends and family. the show’s being produced by the R3 artists’ collective, which is a group of artists committed to resisting colonial oppression and supporting Indigenous peoples to reclaim lands and lifeways. they also happen to be wonderful friends of mine. i’m in the group too, so it all works out rather beautifully ;p
And in addition to working with great friends to produce the show, we’ve got Billy Bryans (yes, the drummer from the Parachute CLub. wut! wut!) on publicity. i’m pretty honored and feeling blessed right now.
so about the album…. i guess in many ways this album is my offering to the world. it’s one of my small contributions to shifting the balance. it’s full of songs for and from my ancestors, the trees and such. it’s full of righteous political statements (some may say obnoxiously so ;p, but i made certain lyrics in-your-face for a reason.). It’s got songs that i made to help us dance, chant and stomp our way to freedom….to remembering ourselves….returning to our birthplaces and harvesting the seed- the goodness that our ancestors have to offer.
so it’s an offering.
i was ever hesitant to make it cause I’m an aspiring luddite and the idea of mass producing something is not appealing to me. But …my people told me to do it, so I did it. not sure if i’ll do it again. i really just wanna move to the bush and sing for the trees and whoever else is around…..but in the meantime (while i’m working on the exit plan) i shall share some tunage. i hope you enjoy it.
Ken Stowar (Programme Director CIUT) “love the CD”
Sonia Arab (Music Programmer CBC Radio 1) “From the first time I put the CD in the player I thought ‘Wow’.”
Errol Nazareth (CBC Radio 1, Toronto Sun) “I was taken with this album from the first cut – that features Amai singing, clapping and stomping her feet – to the last song which is an incantation.”
Nicholas Jennings (TV programmer, journalist) wrote.. “Brilliant. One of the year’s most exciting new discoveries.”
David Dacks (CIUT, Exclaim) ‘a good record’ (which he will review this week for Exclaim”)