Four Great non-Western Artists I Listen to

Most of us tend to listen to music in, well, English. Or if you’re from a country with a main language other than English, you listen to music in two languages at best usually. So I thought I’d make a list of four artists I listen to who sing in an alternative first language other than English (as well as singing in English, it’s hard to find anyone who doesn’t sing at least one song in English). Four, not five because I don’t know of five :/ so if you have any additions to my list please comment! Actually, I tell a lie, I do know more than four, but the extras are in the same languages as the four I’m listing, so wouldn’t add to the diversity.

A.R. Rahman

Famous for being the composer for that epic movie, Slumdog Millionaire. I do love the soundtrack album for that movie, it has many a listen left in it yet before I get bored :) This is probably my favourite track from the album, Dreams on Fire, the instrumental version of which doubles as the musical motif for the character of Latika in the movie. I know it’s in English, but he does use other languages, the song Jai Ho (non Pussycat Dolls version) being the prime example. He is Tamil, but also writes using Hindi.


As if having a band name that stands for Make Your Momma Proud isn’t cool enough, these guys just make great acoustic music. I could listen to them in the background or foreground for a long time. They’re from the Philippines and primarily sing in English and Tagalog as far as I know, though there’s something like 186 living languages in the Philippines! The song below is Kailan, which I first heard in the movie A Very Special Love, a good Pinoy feel-good romance if you’re into feel-good movies (which I’ll admit being a sucker for at times :D ). They even manage to cover some old songs which I thought could never sound decent and make them worth listening to ;)


Adeaze are a pair of Samoan brothers from New Zealand. I’m pretty sure some Pacific Island nations have more citizens in New Zealand than on home soil. The following song is The Lord is My Light, sung half in English, half in Samoan. Similar to MYMP, Adeaze do a mostly acoustic mix of originals and covers of old school feel-goods. The video I’ve included is a live recording from an audience member, cause the only youtube vid including a studio recording is someone’s home video and actually has pretty low sound quality. It still sounds really cool, gives me shivers!

Johnny Clegg

Johnny Clegg is a South African musician who emerged during probably one of the biggest racial conflicts our world has seen. The song I’ve included is about Nelson Mandela. As you can see in the vid, Johnny plays with a black band, which would have been a big deal at the time. They play some songs that are fully in other languages (Ibola Lethu is a good one) and some just in English.

2 responses to “Four Great non-Western Artists I Listen to

  1. Well you should definitely start listening to MYMP :)

  2. Johnny Clegg and his beautiful Zulu lyrics! Love this guy. I have a greatest hits album. I can offer you some very cool artists but it would probably stray a little from your tastes. For me, and my Spanish, I like listening to mainstream artists like Enrique Iglesias and Shakira. Their Spanish music is often actually a lot better than their English songs! I listen to reggaetón. Example: Wisin y Yandel. They´re actually quite global now. I can´t think of any other languages that I listen to beside Clegg. But that will change.

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