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Makeba to Open Concerts

South African singer will be followed by Baaba Maal and Lila Downs in the Philharmonic Society's World Stages series.


South African singer-songwriter Miriam Makeba will kick off the 2001-2002 World Stages series, co-sponsored by the Philharmonic Society of Orange County and the Irvine Barclay Theatre.

The author, political activist and United Nations ambassador will open the four-concert series at 8 p.m. Oct. 25 at the Irvine theater, 4242 Campus Drive.

Makeba was the first African recording artist to win a Grammy Award, in 1965, and, in 1967, the first to have a worldwide top-10 hit, "Pata Pata." Exiled from her homeland in 1960, her tireless efforts in raising awareness of human-rights violations in South Africa and around the world for more than 30 years earned her the right to be called "Mama Africa." She ended her exile in 1991 with a triumphant tour.

The series will continue with three more concerts:

* Feb. 2, 8 p.m.: Senegalese performer Baaba Maal on his first North American acoustic tour.

Maal's concert will draw upon material from his latest release, "Missing You--Mi Yeewnii," which focuses on the acoustic and poetic side of Senegalese music. The original recording sessions for the album took place outdoors after dark in Toubab, Senegal.

* Feb. 10, 7 p.m.: Korean drum and dance group SamulNori.

Formed in 1978, SamulNori sparked a renaissance in Korean music. The group's name comes from the Korean words, "sa" and "mul," meaning "four things," and "nori," meaning "to play." The origins of the group's sound can be traced to peasant farmers' music and outdoor ceremonial music, as well as folk and religious music.

* May 3, 2002, 8 p.m.: Mixtec American vocalist Lila Downs.

Downs, daughter of a Mixtec Indian mother and an Anglo American father, grew up in Oaxaca, Mexico, Southern California and Minnesota.

Many of her songs are drawn from Mixtec codices, Mexican poetry and stories of her mother's people, the nuu savi (cloud people). She sings in Mayan, Mixtec, Zapotec, Spanish and English.

Series subscriptions, priced at $98 and $120, are on sale now. Tickets for single events will go on sale later this spring.

Information: (949) 854-4646 or (949) 553-2422.

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