The Culture Arts

Top Picks: PBS's 'Great African Civilizations,' Sampha's 'Process,' and more

The Peakfinder Earth app helps you identify mountains, the movie 'Loving' stars Academy Award nominee Ruth Negga, and more top picks.

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  • Staff

Exploring Africa

Historian Henry Louis Gates Jr. explores the history of Africa in the PBS series Africa’s Great Civilizations, in which Gates travels to the Nubian pyramids in Sudan; Africa’s oldest university in Fez, Morocco; and other destinations. The series debuts on Feb. 27 at 9 p.m. and will air over multiple nights.

Time change

The 24 Hour World Clock app not only lets you keep track of time across the world but has great visuals. Download it for the next trip when you’ll need to remember a time change. It’s available for iOS for $2.99.

Heartfelt music

Great beauty can come from pain, and there’s no better example than British singer/songwriter Sampha. Wistful and grief-tinged songs from a heart still in the midst of healing provide the perfect title for his affecting debut album, “Process.” If his tender falsetto sounds familiar to fans of Solange, Drake, and Kanye West, it’s because he’s been a favorite collaborator and background singer for the new soul A-list for several years. His appeal lies in the humility and vulnerability in cathartic tracks such as “What Shouldn’t I Be?” and “Kora Sings,” a tribute to his late mother. Critics are hailing it as one of the year’s best so far. We agree.   

Mountain high

If you’re exploring and are curious about that summit in the distance, PeakFinder Earth can provide useful information. The app identifies nearby mountains without needing an internet connection, which is perfect for hikers and nature lovers. PeakFinder Earth is available for $3.99 for iOS and Android.

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Impactful romance

Actress Ruth Negga received Academy attention for her work in the movie Loving, which is available on DVD and Blu-ray. The film stars Negga and Joel Edgerton as real-life couple Mildred and Richard Loving. Richard is white and Mildred is black; their marriage violated the Racial Integrity Act in Virginia. The US Supreme Court ruling on their marriage changed history. Monitor film critic Peter Rainer writes that the couple’s “devotion to each other under such an onslaught is convincingly steely. This is due in large part to Negga’s performance, which gives Mildred’s reticence a righteous core.”