East Africa’s most beloved singer Samba Mapangala begins 2009 with a series of high-profile performances. Samba has also kicked off the new year with a new release of live recordings from his 2007 North American tour. The digital-only album, Samba Mapangala and Virunga: Live on Tour, is available now as a download and will be followed by a compact disc release later in the year. It also includes bonus remixes of "Obama Ubarikiwe" (Obama Be Blessed), a praise song written and recorded by Samba during the presidential campaign last year in recognition of how proud Africans are of Obama’s achievements and candidacy. Downloads for review by press and media are available on line; please request the password for access.
Samba and his U.S.-based Virunga contingent have been invited to play at one of the Presidential Inauguration Balls in Washington DC on Jan. 20. And not just any one, this is the invitation-only black-tie gala "Africa on the Potomac: The Pan-African Inaugural Celebration of President Barack Obama," co-hosted by the Government of the Republic of Kenya, African Diplomatic Corps, African Union, African Professionals in Washington DC, and the Corporate Council on Africa. Among the distinguished guests will be Madame Sarah Obama, the paternal grandmother of the President-Elect, the Kenyan Minister of Foreign Affairs, various African ambassadors, and private and public sector leaders. The event takes place at the Crystal Gateway Marriott Hotel in Arlington, Virginia, where the assembled dignitaries will be entertained by Samba Mapangala and Virunga, and the acclaimed Boys Choir of Kenya.
Then in February 2009, Samba travels to East Africa to headline the 6th annual Sauti za Busara Festival held Feb. 12-17 in Zanzibar, Tanzania, for which his Nairobi-based Virunga outfit will be augmented by his long-time colleagues and collaborators from Congo by way of Paris, acclaimed lead guitarist Syran Mbenza and drummer extraordinaire Komba Bellow. The group then returns to Nairobi for additional concerts in February to be announced.