Edinburgh International Festival: 6 musical highlights for 2019

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Jarvis Cocker and Neneh Cherry head up a stellar musical selection at this year’s International Festival.

Amadou & Mariam/Blind Boys of Alabama

Singer-Songwriter Anna Calvi. Picture:EIF

Singer-Songwriter Anna Calvi. Picture:EIF

This coming together of world music and gospel titans is subtitled “From Bamako to Birmingham” and will showcase the links between the aching desert blues of Malian couple Amadou & Mariam and the old school gospel chops of the Blind Boys of Alabama, some of whom have been singing together since meeting as children in the 1930s.

Usher Hall, 7 August

READ MORE: The Blind Boys of Alabama at the Edinburgh Jazz Festival

Kate Tempest

In a strong line-up of female performers, performance poet Kate Tempest stands out with her blend of documentary storytelling and lyricism. She winds both strands together on her latest album, The Book of Traps and Lessons, the opening of which will be accompanied by a full live band.

Leith Theatre, 9 August

READ MORE: You Are Here brings folk tales from around the world to EIF 2019

Neneh Cherry

Neneh Cherry, above right, has a galvanising charisma that is hard to resist. Over a 40-year career – she started out in punk and post-punk outfits The Slits and Rip Rig + Panic – she has always found the grit in the pop oyster, continuing to mix hip-hop, electronica and pop on her most recent albums.

Leith Theatre, 10 August

READ MORE: Broken Politics by Neneh Cherry, Album Review

Shooglenifty: East West

It feels appropriate that this veteran, trailblazing, groove-making Edinburgh-based folk fusion outfit should be invited to perform at the International Festival – and they plan to make it an international affair too, with guest appearances from their Rajasthani chums Dhun Dhora and the vocal tour de force of Galician trio Tanxugueiras.

The Lyceum, 9 August

READ MORE: Shooglenifty at Celtic Connections 2019


Former Pulp frontman, Radio 6 DJ and all-round national treasure Jarvis Cocker returns to the Edinburgh International Festival two years after his last collaboration here with Grammy-winning Canadian musician Chilly Gonzales on Room 29. JARV IS features harpist Serafina Steer and violinist Emma Smith in its line-up and is defined, among other things, as “primarily a live experience.”

Leith Theatre, 22 August

READ MORE: Jarvis Cocker on bringing Room 29 to the Edinburgh Festival

Anna Calvi

Like Jarvis, Calvi, left, has form at the Festival, thrilling audiences in 2015 in collaboration with the Heritage Orchestra. Her latest appearance, in support of her album, Hunter, should be no less a showcase of her stunning voice and searing guitar playing.

Leith Theatre, 11 August

READ MORE: Anna Calvi, Glasgow Gig Review



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