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Sizzlin'! A Nonprofit Guy's Top Ten Music Picks from 2008

You know those holiday letters you get from friends and family? Just opening them is stressful as one anticipate news that is too self-congratulatory ("and it was hard to choose between seven lucrative job offers") or just plain boring ("on page 18 there's more about our trip to the Shakespeare Festival").

Well, longtime funder, nonprofit guy and music lover Tom David instead sends out an annual list of music from the year to explore, and he's nicely allowed us to reprint his 2008 list here (we've chosen links that allow you to hear samples for free):

TD's Top Ten for 2008

The music industry may be melting down, but there's more good stuff out there to listen to than ever before. My favorite album of the year was Consolers of the Lonely by The Raconteurs. Primal. Electrifying. Cleansing. But they've gotten too much attention to make my official list, which celebrates my favorite, somewhat more obscure releases of the year.

1. Ersi Arvizu - Friend for Life (Anti-) Legendary 1960's El Chicano vocalist paints a vivid portrait of her life in music and boxing and her East L.A. roots in a series of story songs in English and Spanish, backed by family members and a superb group of local musicians recruited and produced by Ry Cooder. Unforgettable.

2. Chiwoniso - Rebel Woman (Cumbancha). Pictured top left and from the troubled land of Zimbabwe, Chiwoniso Maraire combines powerful vocals with lyrical mbira playing and an all-star backing band of some of South Africa's most respected musicians. Her songs deal with the healing power of elders, the struggles of the people, the natural beauty of . . .

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