Nic Harcourt curates Congo benefit album featuring Norah Jones, Sheryl Crow, Amadou & Miriam, Mos Def and more (UPDATED)
KCRW DJ and Los Angeles Times Magazine contributor Nic Harcourt has good taste, and it's gotten him far. His aesthetic judgment has helped bring lesser-known artists into the mainstream, and his seal of approval helps separate the great from the mediocre.
Harcourt's current mission has more gravitas than mere song-pushing, though. He's teamed up with Mercer Street/Downtown Records to curate the collection "Raise Hope for Congo," a compilation designed to bring awareness to the plight of women and girls in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Considered one of the most dangerous places in the world for women, the African state has seen a staggering uptick in sexual violence as a weapon of war, a byproduct of a fight for power due to the worldwide demand for the country's national resources.
"One of the principal reasons why there is little international response to the terrible human-rights crimes in Congo -- particularly against women and girls -- is that people just don't know that these things are happening," said human-rights activist John Prendergast, who was director of African affairs at the National Security Council during the Clinton administration. "This compilation album will be a beacon to light the path to educating hundreds of thousands of people about the issues in Congo and what all of us can do to help end the suffering there."
The collection includes a wide variety of voices, ranging from L.A.-based guitarist Imaad Wasif to quirky song-stylist Jesca Hoop to amazing Malian husband/wife duo Amadou & Miriam to New York jazz/pop singer Norah Jones.
A full listing of artists appearing on the collection, which will be released digitally Tuesday and will arrive in the stores on June 22, appears below.
1. "Lonely Soldier" -- Damien Rice
2. "Not Immune" -- Imaad Wasif
3. "Angel Mom" -- Jesca Hoop
4. "40" -- Meshell Ndegeocello
5. "Je t’aime" -- Staff Benda Bilili
6. "Leila" -- Angélique Kidjo
7. "Na Miso" -- Chantal Kreviazuk
8. "World of Trouble" -- Norah Jones
9. "My Name Is Mwamaroyi" -- Sheryl Crow
10. "Don’t Let Me" -- Amel Larrieux
11. "Raise Hope" -- Omékongo Dibinga & Shahin Shahida
12. "Never Again" – Ozomatli & the Agahozo Shalom Youth Village
13. "Sleep Alone" -- Bat for Lashes
14. "Before You Were Young (Live at Joe’s Pub)" -- Travis
15. "Hora Zero (Live at Wecheter)" -- Rodrigo y Gabriela
16. "Tambara" -- Amadou & Mariam
17. "Nsimba & Nzuzi" -- Konono No 1
18. "Priority (A Cappella)" -- Mos Def
UPDATED, 3 p.m.: Nic Harcourt teamed up not only with Mercer Street Records to create the collection; he also worked with Enough Project, a project that John Prendergast co-founded as a way "to prevent genocide and crimes against humanity."
-- Randall Roberts
Photo: Norah Jones at at the Orpheum in April. Credit: Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times