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More recently, Plant has recorded with Afro Celt Sound System and, along with Skin and Justin Adams, traveled to South Sahara, North of Timbuktu in Mali to participate in the 2nd Festival of the Desert, a gathering of African Saharan and assorted soul musicians which included Oumou Sangare, Ali Farka Toure, Tinariwen, and Tidawt. This project ultimately became a CD compilation on the Harmonia Mundi label.
The following year saw Robert and the band embark on a new adventure with a string of dates across Europe and beyond. A stopover in Sweden in late May saw Robert, along with the other members of Led Zeppelin, receive the prestigious Polar Music Prize. His Majesty King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden presented the award to Led Zeppelin in the presence of other dignitaries with the following words:
2006 closed with the worldwide release of Nine Lives (Rhino), a beautifully designed boxed set containing all of Plant's solo work since '81-accompanied by outtakes, live cuts, and a DVD with contributions from Tori Amos, Phil Collins, Roger Daltrey, Bobby Gillespie, and Lenny Kravitz, among others.
2007 finds Robert working on album number three with Strange Sensation, leaning again towards the music of the muse - exotic, explosive, and detailed. Along the way he performed with Tinariwen, the Malian Tuareg cooperative who received huge critical acclaim for the Justin Adams produced CD Aman Iman, singing and playing spooked tenor ukelele at the Bataclan Theatre in Paris in April. A summer tour of the eastern Mediterranean with Strange Sensation will run from June through August.
Raising Sand, a new project and partnership with 20-time Grammy Award winning artist Alison Krauss will be released in October 2007 on Rounder Records. Their first recorded collaboration, Raising Sand proves a wonder on two counts: first that it happened at all, and, more importantly, that it is as successful and illuminating as it is.
Under the stewardship of producer T-Bone Burnett, Raising Sand spans the intersections of early urban blues, spacious West Texas country, and the unrealized potential of the folk-rock revolution. It is an album that uncovers popular music's elemental roots while sounding effortlessly timeless. It's nearly impossible to tell which songs are a hundred years old or which are contemporary. Krauss and Plant share a maverick spirit that makes Raising Sand sound like one continuous thought -- a conversation between two major music talents that goes on for an entire album.