Artists mobilize troops. Fans take to the social media trenches. Votes clash across continents, each click the clang of a digital sword. Alright…maybe our Battle of the Bands competition isn’t quite that extreme. But it can be a dramatic event in the careers of winning artists.
Let’s take a look back at five past winners, how winning affected their careers, and what they’re up to now.
Adeel Saeed Chishti
'The battle of bands competition gave me hope.'
-Adeel Saeed Chishti, Winner of the First Battle of the Bands
Having recently settled in the UK after living most of his life in Pakistan, Chishti was having a hard time finding an English audience for his Sufi music. 'I felt participating in the competition would be the best way forward,' said Chishti. With the help of fans from Pakistan and around the world, Chishti was able to win the first competition. Currently, he’s working on a new project featuring a blend of modern instrumentation and traditional Sufi folk singing. Stay tuned on Chishti's facebook page for the latest news from the first Battle of the Band star.
Down, but not out. In January 2011, Amadou Diagne came in a close second to Chishti in our first Battle of the Bands competition. He reentered his music, won the second competition, and ended up releasing his first album, Introducing Amadou Diagne, on World Music Network’s Introducing label. 'We would have struggled to get (the album) released...so it was amazing to get the CD distributed with World Music Network,' said Diagne's wife and manager, Zoë Diagne. Amadou's next album is written and ready to be recorded. He's being patient with the process though.
'I am taking my time building something great.'
Remember these guys? Bulgarian buskers Oratnitza dub-stepped into the spotlight in June 2012, combining modern sounds with Bulgarian folk instrumentation (and a digeridoo) to win our eighth competition. They released their self-titled debut that same year and the group says there’s more excitement on the horizon.
'We’re now recording our second album and will be touring Europe and beyond with it next year,'
said the band. You didgeridoo not want to miss out on this one.
Here’s an artist you’ve seen more recently. Simo released his second album, The Gnawa Berber, on Riverboat Records in October to critical acclaim from Songlines and fRoots. Not long ago though, he was dueling it out in our May 2013 competition. Though Simo eventually won our 12th battle, winning was not his main priority.
'For me, it’s not (about the) competition. It’s about the music.'
That’s exactly what he’s been focusing on in the last months. Luckily for us, Simo has been gigging regularly since releasing his latest album. In October, Simo opened for afrobeat legend Dele Sosimi at a Songlines gig at Royal Albert Hall. On November 7, he played live on BBC Radio 3. He's also playing dates with his newest outfit, the Gnawa Blues All Stars. Check the group's facebook page for more info.
The 13th Battle of the Bands competition was full of surprises for Bamako-based blues guitarist Anansy Cissé. First, Cissé didn't plan on participating. Cissé’s manager, who also works with Samba Touré, submitted the song without Cissé’s knowledge. 'I did not believe so much in my songs as my manager did, so he decided to submit a song without telling me,' said Cissé. More than that, Cissé ended up winning a competition he didn’t know he was a part of. 'At first, I didn’t believe it. Winning was a huge surprise to me.' Finally, with one of his songs hand-picked for The Rough Guide To The Best African Music You've Never Heard, there were some unexpected side-effects.
'All the girls in Bamako--seeing I had an international album--they think I became a rich star, so they all asked me for money!'
All jokes aside, Cissé said that winning the Battle of the Bands also motivated him to perfect his music. 'It gave me force to do better songs for the next album.' The charge of winning the competition carried Cissé through to the release of his debut album, Mali Overdrive, which was recently released on Riverboat Records. Carrying the momentum of Mali Overdrive forward, Cissé is now working on new music for his next album. Find more on Cissé's facebook page.
The drums beat and another Battle of the Bands begins. The current round is open until November 30th. Will it be your music we're looking back on next time? Click here to submit. Fans can join the fray too. Check out the music here, choose your favorite, and fire away on any social media platform you want.
By twitter, by facebook, and by blog, so the battle continues...