Born and raised in Accra, Ghana, Blitz the Ambassador grew up to the sounds of Afro-Beat, Highlife, Jazz, and Motown. From an early age he played djembe in local drum circles and dance troups. But when his older brother introduced him to Public Enemy’s classic album, It Takes A Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back, he was changed forever. “I had never heard young Black people express themselves in that way before,” recalls Blitz. After graduating from Kent State University in the U.S., Blitz moved to New York and began to record Stereotype. “I set out to change the way hip-hop approaches live instrumentation, to create synergy between all of the sounds on my personal playlist.” In 2011, he released Native Sun (Embassy MVMT). “The album is a journey backwards, back through hip hop, the Caribbean soundsystem culture that preceded it, back to its African roots, with the final kora,” notes Blitz.
Natalie Pa'apa'a is the leading singer of the famous Australian urban roots band Blue King Brown. She is a vocal social activist and is known for speaking out on environmental and human rights issues including people trafficking, the NT intervention, the rebuilding of Haiti and ethical consumerism. Lead by the multi talented, relentless energy of Natalie Pa’apa’a, powerful vocal & lyrical delivery’s meet a dancehall, roots, rock & afro groove mash-up built on an irrepressible percussive foundation. Known for their strong political songs and high octane live performances, Blue King Brown has established a strong national profile and international presence, opening for local and international acts as diverse as Carlos Santana, Michael Franti & Spearhead, Damian Marley, The John Butler Trio, The Cat Empire, Silverchair, and Powderfinger. BKB has been Hailed by Santana as “The voice of the street and the band of the future!”
Comrade Fatso is one of Zimbabwe’s pioneering spoken word artists. His poetry is street, urban and African and is studied at universities all over the world. With his band Chabvondoka, he defies musical boxes by blending sounds as diverse as rock, hip-hop, chimurenga, jiti, kwaito and reggae. The band’s debut album House of hunger was praised internationally but banned in Zimbabwe for its political content.
Comrade Fatso is also an influential cultural activist who has co-founded in 2007, Magamba (www.magambanetwork.com), the cultural activist network and Zimbabwe’s leading spoken word and hip hop organization. He is the director of Shoko International Spoken Word & Hip Hop Festival, the first ever festival celebration of poetry, hip hop and urban culture striving for positive social change and democracy and launched in September 2011 by Magamba.
Born in Cairo to a Palestinian exiled family, Tamer Abu Ghazaleh is a composer and performing artist of alternative Arabic music, and an Oud, Buzuq, and vocal performer. The lyrics in his compositions are in formal (fus-ha), Palestinian, or Egyptian dialect, written by himself or by Arab poets and express an array of human experience that is not defined by time or place: love, challenge, insecurity, boredom, thrill, frustration, etc. Tamer's debut album Mir'ah has been released in 2008 after several collaboration with of Palestinian & Egyptian artists on performing projects In 2010 started Kazamada, a project that joins Tamer with Mahmoud Radaideh (Jordan), Zeid Hamdan (Lebanon), and Donia Massoud (Egypt) into a cross-country cross-genre sound mix.
Tamer is also a music producer and founded in 2007 eka3, a platform operating out of Beirut, Amman, Ramallah, and Cairo dedicated to promoting, producing, distributing, and touring independent Arabic music. (www.eka3.org).
Shivani Ahlowalia is a co-founder of Cobiana Communications & Culture based in Guinea-Bissau and has served as Director of Artist Development and Special Initiatives of Cobiana Records since 2008. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in International Business Administration from Schiller International University in Madrid (Spain) and a Master’s in Business and Development Studies from the Copenhagen Business School in Copenhagen (Denmark) where her interest in the intersection of music, economic development, and new media culminated in a Master’s research study of “Technology and Change: New Avenues for Music Production at the Bottom of the Economic Pyramid”. Shivani was a member of a Danish lead crew responsible for making the first rock concert in Guinea Bissau in January of 2008, where she served as tour manager as well as artist. She is working on putting out her first EP this year, 2012. She speaks Spanish, Guinea-Bissau Creole, Hindi and French.
Tamer Attallah is a drummer, songwriter and one of the co-founders of the underground Egyptian band, Massar Egbari. He is also a music composer of soundtracks and video installations, such as HAWI movie which won many international awards and best music award in the Egyptian Cinema Film Association Festival 2011.
Massar Egbari means 'Compulsory Detour' in English, and seeks to portray how the social conditions try to overpower an individual's free will and forces him to live a certain way. Their music presents a unique mix of rock, jazz, blues, and Eastern music. The band performed in several International Festivals and won the UNESCO award as best young Band promoting intercultural dialogue in 2011. Besides his career with Alexandrian based band, he also started music production projects with young Egyptian bands in context of AGORA's network of young musician with special focus on "Music for social change".