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The Malagasy group Tarika are important for multiple reasons, not the least of which is that they're led by a woman, the dynamic Hanitra Rasoanaivo. They're also an incredibly popular live band, and Time magazine voted them one of the top 10 bands in the world in 2001. But accolades aside, this Madagascar-based group occupies its special niche in the world because its music bears witness to the distinctive cultural crossroads of Madagascar's history. The Malagasy people, while now in Africa, actually emigrated over 1,500 years ago from Indonesia, bringing their musical traditions with them. Over the centuries African influences have created a sunny hybrid in Madagascar that's neither here nor there and extremely pleasingly so.

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