Robin Denselow 

Umoza: Tumbuka Voices – review

This confident, varied charity album does a good job of showcasing grass-roots choral music from southern Africa, writes Robin Denselow
  
  

Southern Africa is a region packed with great singers and choirs, many non-professional. Last month's album from the Malawi Mouse Boys was a set of classy village music, and now comes a rousing and unlikely youth choir. Umoza is a school for deprived street children in northern Malawi that has been helped by the Irish producer John Dunford, who recorded this cheerfully confident, varied set there. The songs are based on traditional tunes, with lyrics praising the project, and the powerful, hypnotic vocal harmonies are backed by vizumba trumpets and percussion. There's accordion from Irish star Sharon Shannon on one track, and wailing guitar and added percussion from co-producer Justin Adams, currently back working with Robert Plant. But they are careful never to dominate the young African choir. This is a charity record worth hearing.