Angola’s Waldemar Bastos Releases Renascence in North America

New York City (New York), USA – Veteran Angolan musician,
Waldemar Bastos
, has a new recording in the American market. Renascence, on Times Square Records, is his first recording in seven years.

They say that when you drink the water of the Bengo River, you never forget Angola,” says Waldemar Bastos, who has lived in exile since Angola’s civil war broke out. He never forgot his homeland. But 2003 marked his first visit back home since the war ended, and this vision of peace and reconciliation shines throughout the new CD, which was produced by UK/Jamaican programmer Paul ‘Groucho’ Smykle (Gregory Isaacs/ Big Audio Dynamite/ Black Uhuru/ Baaba Maal). On the song “Água do Bengo,” Bastos sings “He who drinks the water of Bengo will want to stay. He who drinks the water of Bengo will fall in love.” This yearning and love for country, permeates Renascence.

Most American audiences first heard Bastos on
, a CD produced by Arto Lindsay. “We made the last album during a complicated, sad time for Angola,” Bastos explains. “It was a bad war. Many brothers killed brothers. I was very, very preoccupied. The new CD, Renascence, was made in a moment of renewal. This is a time with the dreams of the future in front of us. I believe music can create new possibilities, new perspectives. Renascence is my dream.”

One song, “Georgina,” imagines what it must have been like for many soldiers to return to Luanda after the war to find that their girlfriends had left them or even been killed. But the rest of the songs express national pride and hope. On “Dongo” (fishing boat), Bastos shows his appreciation for the beauty of the hard work and courage of the country’s fishermen, and for the joy their families feel each time they return from the dangers of the mysterious sea. While the small red fruit pitanga is usually an analogy for love, on “Pitanga Madurinha” Bastos sings of Angola’s ripeness for peace. As a bonus track, “Pitanga” was remixed with added vocals from Jamaican toaster Chaka Demus.

Renascence has a variety of regional and global influences. “When I was a young boy, my parents both worked as nurses,” Bastos says. “We lived near all the poor people, and I listened to and played many different types of music: rumba, pop, tango, waltz, popcorn… Jimmy Hendrix! I still listen to all types of music. My father played the cello and I envisioned a string section on some songs, so we have a Turkish string section on this album. To create a new vision, you have to bring in others’ experience. My music is a bridge.”

Going back was the key to this album because it was the first time I had ever seen peace in my country and hope and a belief in the future in people’s faces,” says Bastos. “It was in that moment I heard the voice of my spirit telling me to make this record.”

As he was beginning to make the record, Bastos turned 50, a personal landmark which gave the record additional impetus. “Half a century makes you pause and look back at your life. But you also have unrealized hopes and dreams so it’s about looking forward too. That process informed the record hugely,” he says.

Tour Schedule

07/29/2005, Fri
Los Angeles, CA
Grand Performances

07/30/2005, Sat
San Juan Capistrano, CA
Music at the Library

08/02/2005, Tue
Seattle, WA
Triple Door

08/04/2005, Thu
Edmonton, AL, Canada
Edmonton Folk Festival

08/05/2005, Fri
Edmonton, AL, Canada
Edmonton Folk Festival

08/07/2005, Sun
San Francisco, CA
Stern Grove Festival

09/16/2005, Fri
Chicago, IL
World Music Festival

09/17/2005, Sat
Chicago, IL
World Music Festival