UK – After three series of acclaimed concerts, the African Soul Rebels tour has raised its game further for 2008, uniting two legends and a young groundbreaker for 10 nights. A West African spectacular, the tour features Mali’s Salif Keita, perhaps the finest singer the continent has ever produced, Tony Allen, the man who put the beat in Nigeria’s Afrobeat, and Awadi, the latest hero of Senegal’s fertile rap scene.
A soul rebel to the core, Salif Keita’s life has been one of confounding expectations. Because of his noble surname, he should never have been a singer; as an albino he was considered an outcast from the day he was born. Now, more than 40 years after he became a musician, Keita can look back on decades of unparalleled international success: his album Soro (1997) has been labeled the best African LP of all time; both the albums he has recorded since returning to Mali in 2000, Moffou and M’Bemba, have been called classics. For this tour, he is going further back in time, to the acoustic sound he grew up hearing while working in his father’s fields.It’s not for nothing that countless fellow musicians have called him the greatest drummer of all time. A master of jazz and traditional African drumming styles, Tony Allen was the heartbeat behind Fela Kuti in the 1970s, playing on albums such as Zombie, Sorrow Tears and Blood and Gentlemen. After leaving Kuti, he followed his own instincts, bringing dub and hip-hop to Afrobeat, and his most recent project, The Good, the Bad & the Queen (recorded with Damon Albarn, Paul Simonon and Simon Tong) won Best Album at the Mojo Awards in 2007.
One of the founding members of West African rap pioneers Positive Black Soul, Didier Awadi, has spent two decades mixing contemporary American soul with traditional Senegalese music. In January, he releases a new album, Presidents D’Afrique, based on speeches by African leaders, which tackles questions of heritage, independence and debt. “What I’m trying to do”, he says, “is use hip-hop as an entertaining way to get Africans to re-appropriate their history and give these presidents their rightful place in our pantheon.”
Fri 15th February Brighton Dome (01273 709 709)
Sat 16th February Colston Hall, Bristol (0117 922 3686)
Sun 17th February Warwick Arts Centre, Coventry (024 7652 4524)
Mon 18th February Barbican, London (020 7638 8891)
Thur 21st February Lighthouse, Poole (08700 668701)
Fri 22nd February The Anvil, Basingstoke (01256 844 244)
Sat 23rd February De Montfort Hall, Leicester (0116 233 3111)
Sun 24th February Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool (0151 709 3789)
Mon 25th February Bridgewater Hall, Manchester (0161 907 9000)
Tues 26th February The Sage, Gateshead (0191 443 4661)