“The rousing deep-voiced singer from Réunion Island–the multi-ethnic French province in the Indian Ocean east of Madagascar–performs maloya, a blues-like music rooted in the work songs and chants of the island’s African slaves. Rising up from a troubled childhood on the streets of Saint-Denis, Salem has become the greatest living champion of maloya, infusing the trance-inducing blend of voices and percussion with fresh inspiration and contemporary influences. Singing in Creole, Malagasy, Camoran and Swahili, Salem is an elemental force on stage, engaging in spirited call-and-response with her trio of singing percussionists and setting the tempo with the traditional reed shaker called a kayamn.
Her new album, Salem Tradition, expands on the maloya style, offering a hint of the drama and excitement of her live performances. In Réunion, the residents say, the dead speak to the living. If that is true, the music of Christine Salem is proof that the music and messages of the past have been received loud and clear, pointing the way to a vital, vibrant future.” – SFJazz