Preview: Radio 3 World, Music Awards, Brixton Academy, London

You take the hybrid road...
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The Independent Culture

Bukovina, says Shantel, was a melting-pot between Eastern and Western Europe. "It contained people from Poland, Romania, Russia and the Ukraine, and incorporated many different religions - Jewish, Muslim, Russian Orthodox and Protestant - all of which co-existed amicably, until the Second World War aroused competing nationalisms and people began to get deported.

"In my family, this remembered vision of peaceful co-existence was a constant refrain. I always knew, as a kid growing up in Germany, that there was something different in my background, a different hinterland," he says. "And I knew I had to discover more about it."

So as soon as travel became easy in the former Soviet states, he went to look for his roots. "I found my grandparents' house, and people in their nineties who remembered them. That was an emotional moment for me. When I went back to Germany, I knew what I had to do. I had in some way to recreate that golden age through what I did on stage, because music could convey that hybrid culture better than anything else. I did not want to do something merely historical - I wanted to generate something that reflects my generation and its concerns."

So whichever way he chooses to present his art, he'll be talking in the breaks about what it all signifies: songs sung in Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Ukrainian and Romany, a melting-pot once more.

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