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Telek

Telek is the shortened performing name of Papua New Guinea singer and songwriter George Telek Mamua, who began recording for Peter Gabriel's Real World imprint in 2000 at the age of 43. A native of the village of Ralauna, near the town of Rabaul in New Britain Province, Telek played in a variety of groups during his youth: the Unbelievers Revival Band, the rock-influenced Painim Wok, and the more traditional Moab String Band. Telek was brought to the attention of the Western musical world by David Bridie, formerly of My Friend the Chocolate Cake and at the time leader of the Australian folk-pop outfit Not Drowning, Waving. That band's 1990 effort Tabaran was a Paul Simon/Graceland -- like fusion of Western pop with the indigenous music of Papua New Guinea, and Telek was a heavily featured guest vocalist. The recording sessions and ensuing tours also introduced Telek to percussionist Ben Hakalitz, who became a regular collaborator and bandmate shortly thereafter, as did Pius Wasi. Telek and his group reunited with Not Drowning, Waving in 1993 to play Australian dates on the WOMAD festival, and soon plans were in the works for Telek to record his own album for release in Australia. With Bridie's advocacy, Telek's self-titled album was issued in 1997, showcasing his blend of Western pop and rock with traditional Papua New Guinean sounds. It helped attract the attention of Real World, which signed Telek for his debut international release. Serious Tam was issued in the summer of 2000, featuring Telek's bandmates Hakalitz and bassist Glen Low, plus Bridie on keyboards and production, and Not Drowning, Waving guitarist John Phillips. Telek also performed on that summer's WOMAD tour. ~ Steve Huey
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