Juldeh Camara | Tour dates: Juldeh Camara with Robert Plant’s Incredible Shape Shifters
The Sensational Shapeshifters tour is going well, with more dates and links to ticket sales added below – come see Juldeh, Justin and Robert Plant, the music’s intense!:
Juldeh Camara | After pleasure, it was back to business in September
Having returned to the UK last September, after a three-week break in his native Gambia, Juldeh was back to business as usual, teaming up again with Robert Plant and the Sensational Shape Shifters. The band will be touring again later this year, with Juldeh on nyanyeru (Fulani fiddle), bringing his own very special flavour to the mix.
It’s a reunion between two great musicians, a specialist in the African fiddle and a classic rock guitarist. Juldeh Camara and Robert Plant had shared the stage before. and whenever there is time and space the duo will continue to produce the finest of music, an audacious fusion which confirms the assertion that music has no borders.
The tour with Robert Plant has wedded into the realisation of Juldeh’s childhood dream, to always be moving ahead of the times, taking his musical adventures to new and higher planes. From here on, Juldeh will be working on a lifetime project, ‘Back to my Roots’. In recent times, he has rubbed shoulders with some great West African musicians on the continent, and he knows that all musicians share similar concerns and aspirations. For his musician colleagues in Africa, he’s trying to give a helping hand. Over the years, Juldeh’s around-the-world musical journeys have taken him places and exposed him to many cadres of music, and since his resettlement in the United Kingdom, he has tried to meld the rhythm of the African fiddle into conventional Western music.
In Europe, it is Justin Adams who partnered with him, scooping the 2008 BBC Radio 3 ‘Cultural Crossings Award’ and the Songlines 2009 ‘Cross-Cultural Collaboration Award’ for their JuJu album ”Tell No Lies”. And in West Africa, Juldeh Camara features prominently in composer Tunde Jedgede’s ‘‘Fleuve Niger’’ quartet, alongside renowned Malian singer Oumou Sangare, the Brodsky Quartet, korafola Toumani Diabate, and Malian singer Kasse Mady Diabate.
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Juldeh Camara | Bio
Juldeh Camara: from Jalo to international musician
Award-winning international nyanyeru maestro, based in the United Kingdom, Juldeh Camara was born and raised in the Gambia by his father, Serif Camara, himself revered as a gifted Jalo and nyanyeru player. Juldeh grew up immersed in the rhythm of his father’s tunes, as Serif played the length and breadth of The Gambia and Senegal, performing his role as ‘Jalo‘at local weddings and festivities. The Jalo’s role in the community is essential, that of an advisor giving counsel through his songs, fables and poetry, just as his forefathers did before him, and in doing so, sustaining the culture and identity of the people.
At a tender age, Juldeh’s appetite for the melodious tunes he heard from his father’s band compelled Serif Camara to make him his own nyanyeru and to teach his son how to play it. It was not long before he had decided to include Juldeh in his band, giving his son the rare opportunity to perform at spectacular programmes in the communities.
As the years went by, Serif ‘s fame as a Jalo continued to spread like wildlife in the harmattan, while Juldeh’s ingenuity with the nyanyeru also won him a great reputation. While many of his peers moved away to work in the diamond industry of Sierra Leone, Juldeh worked on, honing his musical skills across the Gambia and Senegal.
From the village to the city and beyond
By the 1990s, Juldeh was working as a musician in Banjul, capital of the Gambia, and developing his popularity as he played at various venues, and became familiar with the more mainstream Western instruments used to entertain European tourists. He managed to fuse the rhythm of the African fiddle with conventional Western sounds, something that was very unusual at that time.
Juldeh’s growing reputation saw him recording in Norway with the then famous Five Blind Boys of Alabama, recording the albums ‘Tramp’ (1993), and ‘Klapp’ (1994) to critical acclaim.
In October 1995, he joined forces with a group of Gambian musicians under the name Afro Manding, and toured the UK. In February 1997, the West African stars Ifang Bondi approached him to join them as nyanyeru player and singer. The group travelled to Holland for a six month tour and recorded ‘Gis Gis’, winning a 1999 Kora All Music Africa Best Arranger award, presented to them by the great Nelson Mandela. Juldeh continued to work in the Gambia, working to hone his Western instrumental skills and working on fusing them with the nyanyeru , and returned to settle in the UK in 2001.
UK and the world
Whilst in the United Kingdom, Juldeh Camara joined up with Zubop, renaming themselves Zubop Gambia. Like the previous groups he had joined, Juldeh and his new band toured the UK, and made a live recording at the Ronnie Scott jazz club in London.
In 2003, the National Theatre of London contracted Juldeh to play nyanyeru for ‘Elimina’s Kitchen’, a play by Ghanaian actor/playwright Kwame Kwei-Armah; and in 2004 he worked with Boka Halat to produce a CD bringing together English folk dance and West African music.
The same year, Juldeh also performed with Senegalese kora player Sekou Keita touring the UK in an acoustic quartet. And in 2005 Juldeh decided to embark on a teaching expedition in higher educational establishments to teach students how to play the nyanyeru.
Having listened to his playing for four years, and liking what he heard, in 2006, Juldeh approached renowned guitarist Justin Adams, for a possible collaboration. Little did he realise that his relationship with Justin would grow rapidly and bear fruits – the duo worked hard together to produce the award-winning album, ‘Soul Science’ in 2007. And in 2009, the group started to work with Real World, and subsequently released another award-winning album, ‘Tell No Lies’, receiving an award from Peter Gabriel at that year’s WOMAD Festival.
A French producer suggested that Juldeh and Justin adopt the name JuJu for their group (meaning Justin and Juldeh). Renowned musician Robert Plant’s Band of Joy was at that time touring in Europe and Plant asked JuJu to support his band. Since then, Juldeh and Justin have been performing with Robert Plant as part of the band, the Sensational Shape Shifters.
As a widely-travelled man, Juldeh Camara has so far visited Abu Dhabi, Switzerland, Sweden, Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, Mexico, Russia, Kazan, Siberia, United States of America, Japan, South Korea, Finland and Belgium. More new countries will experience him this summer, when he tours with the Sensational Shape Shifters – a great musician is taking the nyanyeru to new horizons all the time.
Juldeh Camara | Projects
Juldeh Camara: ‘Back to my roots’
Between his recent visits to his country of birth, the Gambia, Juldeh Camara, award-winning nyanyeru artist, has decided to dedicate a programme geared towards working with with artists in the Gambia.
In the 1970s Juldeh performed in various villages, mostly in the Upper River region of the Gambia, with his father, the legendary Serif Camara. It was Serif who taught Juldeh how to play the nyanyeru, and as a young man Juldeh enjoyed witnessing communities turn out to watch his father’s performances almost all-year round.
In those days, as now, local politicians who wanted to entertain their supporters would take along with them the best musical troupes to perform; Juldeh can clearly remember how he travelled at a young age with his father’s band between Senegal and the Gambia.
It is in thinking back on the past, perhaps, inspired by his glittering career, that Juldeh Camara was touched by the rousing welcome that was accorded to him in December 2012. The visit to Sare Yalla, his ancestral home in Casamance, Senegal, where part of the family lives, offered Juldeh the rare opportunity to interact with musicians he had not performed with for decades.
‘My home is very important to me’ he told the reporter who accompanied him during his return to his native community.
The most amazing rediscovery for Juldeh Camara during his performance back home was the sharpness and symphony of the energetic nyanyeru players; something that he said took his memory back to those glorious days and how things had been at that time.
‘I could feel it, it just came through me naturally as I watched and listened with keen interest, how each and every nyanyeru player was creating tunes. Suddenly, I began to think and wished that I could turn back the hands of time’, said Juldeh.
There is no doubt that positive changes have taken place over the years, but the waning cultural festivals, coupled with natural factors such as old age, ill-health or death, mean that most of the musicians are no longer actively involved in music. Hence there are some developments, Juldeh Camara wants to push through.
‘My intention is to revive the cultural vibes back home; my visit was an eye-opener, because it has given me the chance to observe so many things. First of all, I would like to spend more time and ensure that the musicians develop their potential, and to try to impress on them to take their art seriously.’
During his father’s time, few people would have imagined that the dream of having the nyanyeru penetrate uncharted territories would happen in their lifetime; this is something that the young Juldeh Camara often heard people talking about – that the nyanyeru could only make such a journey with a Fulani band. However, with time and space, a legend had to pass on the baton to his young prodigy; and after a few years, Juldeh Camara proved beyond any reasonable doubt that the nyanyeru, like any musical tool, is universal.
His coming to the city in the Gambia in the early 1980s gave him the exposure he needed. He performed alongside several tradition-infused musicians such as Tata Dindin, a renowned Gambian Kora player.
When the opportunity of a journey to Europe came , Juldeh seized the moment and saw it as a chance to realise his childhood dream of taking the rhythmic effect of the nyanyeru to places where it had never reached. The dream now is a manifestation of support for the musicians back home who have not yet had the opportunity to exhibit their potential at the top.
Juldeh Camara | Music
Juldeh Camara | Awards
||Gambian musician Juldeh Camara grew up learning nyanyeru from his blind father, Serif, a master of the instrument. As an adult he has worked with musicians across West Africa, the USA and Europe. These include Ifang Bondi (for the past 30 years one of West Africa’s leading electric bands), Norwegian guitarist Knut Reiersrud and British r’n’b artist Dee Ellington. His recording debut in 1990 was for Bill Laswell’s Axiom label, co-produced by Laswell and Foday Musa Suso. Throughout the summer of 2003 he worked at The National Theatre, London, making music for the acclaimed play Elmina’s Kitchen by Kwame Kwei-Armah.|