Tag Archives: African music

Artist Profiles: Mighty Popo

Mighty Popo – Photo by Angel Romero

Jaques Murigande, aka Mighty Popo, was born in Ngagara, a neighborhood in Bujumbura, Burundi populated largely by Rwandan and Congolese migrants and refugees. Growing up he could hear contemporary and traditional musicians from East and Central Africa on the street, in clubs and in the homes of friends and family, while radio and recordings played music from the whole African continent and beyond. Ngagara was a soundscape in which Soweto, Kingston, Bahia and New Orleans lived side by side.

In spite of hardship, Popo and his family made connections and friendships, found jobs, expressed ideas, pursued dreams, surrounded themselves with music and managed to live and be engaged in a larger world.

As much as Popo inherited a love of the traditional music of Rwanda and Burundi, he also has a lifelong connection with rock, blues, jazz, R&B, Reggae and folk traditions. His music reflects his immersion in a world culture which he has navigated with grace, sensitivity and an enormous sense of exploration and fun. It is enriched by many traditions.

When Popo left Burundi for Canada, his musical journey took him down paths his ears had already traveled at home. He has toured North America and Europe with Canadian and American bluesmen, played reggae and R&B from Halifax to Vancouver and down to New Orleans, and led the house band at the 1998 Pan-African Dance Festival in Kigali.

Mighty Popo was a member of the 2004 Juno Award winning African Guitar Summit and performed at the Canadian edition of Bob Geldof’s international Live 8 concerts (one of the few chosen for EMI’s Live 8 DVD).


Tamba (1996)
Dunia Yote (2000).
Ngagara (CBC Records, 2003)
Live 8 DVD (EMI Canada, 2005 )
Muhazi ‎(2006)
Gakondo ‎(Borealis Records, 2011)


African Guitar with the Mighty Popo (Learn Roots Music, 2006)


Africa Oyé 2018 Announces First wave of International Artists

Africa Oyé festival has revealed the first set of artists scheduled to perform this year. The festival will take place June 16 and 17 in Sefton Park, Liverpool. The artists announced include singer-songwriter Binhan from Guinea Bissau, British-Gambian kora player Sona Jobarteh and Guy One from Ghana.

Africa Oyé celebrates the music and culture of Africa and the diaspora with live music, DJs, dance, workshops, food stalls and traders in the Oyé Village.

Oyé’s Artistic Director, Paul Duhaney said “The huge number of applicants to play this year’s festival has been overwhelming, yet a real testament to how revered the event has become around the world. It’s been far too long since we had an artist from Guinea-Bissau so Binhan’s appearance will be a perfect way to remedy that. Sona deserved a far bigger audience than she had on a rain-soaked day a couple of years ago, so we’re really pleased to be able to bring her back. And Guy One is one of those musicians that is a true master of his art – his set is going to be something really special.”

More information at africaoye.com.


The Apollo Theater and World Music Institute to Present Africa Now!

Black Coffee

The Apollo Theater in partnership with World Music Institute will present its annual festival Africa Now! on Saturday, March 3. The show presents emerging and established artists of today’s African music scene.

This year’s edition will showcase the continent’s current trends in electronic music and will feature South Africa’s megastar DJ and electronic music producer Black Coffee, and the U.S. debut of Afrobeat/techno duo Tony Allen & Jeff Mills.

Additional events include Apollo Music Café performances by Meklit on March 2 at 10pm and an after-party performance by Afrotronix on March 3.

Every year in partnership with Apollo Theater we proudly present the best in contemporary African music with this unique event. This year we focus on the continent’s current trends in Afrofuturism and the contemporary movements in African electronic music,” says Par Neiburger, Artistic Director of World Music Institute. “Africa Now! is all about what is happening now in African music, and it’s a thrill to bring over some of the most forward thinking artists from the continent.”

More at www.worldmusicinstitute.org


Enthralling Bondeko

Toto Bona Lokua – Bondeko (No Format!, 2017)

We use music for a variety of things. We use it as entertainment, to get across a message, to get through our daily workout, to get up in the morning or to fall asleep at night. It is our emotional release allowing us to sing and dance at will. It sets the mood for our carnal encounters and plays a central role in many of our religious rites. Music can convey all shades of human emotion, having us politely applauding or behaving like animals. A piece of music can be played to a gargantuan crowd and still the meaning can be felt individually. But perhaps one of the best things is when music surprises us, when it snags those invisible cerebral threads and enthralls us.

That being said, I am pleased, surprised and utterly enthralled by Toto Bona Lokua’s Bondeko out on the No Format! record label. Silky smooth riches eke out of every track on this offering by French-born composer, singer and multi-instrumentalist Gerald Toto; Cameroonian singer and jazz bassist Richard Bona; and singer and songwriter Lokua Kanza from the Democratic Republic of Congo. Slyly cool and cleverly crafted, Bondeko perfects a sound that is smoothly flavorful and richly worked homage to Caribbean breeziness, Afro-beat lushness and African troubadours.

Opening with the birdsong laced “Ma Mama,” listeners are treated to this trio’s spectacular vocals before giving way to the sassy guitar, bass and percussion backed “Naleki.”

“Youwilé” is stunning in its delicate simplicity of vocals backed by a pair of acoustic guitars. Bondeko lightens the mood with the sleekly cool “Je Kango” before giving way to the delightfully deliciously version of Toto’s “Love Train” with percussion and vocals supplied by Mr. Toto.

Equally scrumptious are offerings like “Ngum Nya Ko,” “Thitae and fluidly cool “Tann Tanbou A.” Listeners get a dose of flute and keyboard wrapped guitar and vocals on “Bukuvu” that is surely to lull even the most reluctant listener. Closing track “Awo” is all savage coolness with bass, smart percussion and vocals.

Bondeko’s particular brand of joyfulness makes this remarkable trio an irresistible lure to those cerebral threads. We will just have to content ourselves to be entertained, surprised, enchanted with Bondecko and wait, sort of patiently, until Toto Bona Lokua comes up with something new to dazzle us.

Buy Bondeko in the rest of the world

Buy Bondeko in Europe


Africa Oyé festival Announces 2018 Dates

Africa Oyé festival – Photo by Mark McNulty

The 2018 edition of the Africa Oyé festival will take place June 16 and 17 at Liverpool’s Sefton Park from 12:30 pm to 9:30 pm both days. The festival will feature the music and culture of Africa and the diaspora with live concerts, DJs, dance, workshops, food vendors and traders in the Oyé Village. Admission is free.

“2018 will allow us to do what we do best and that’s showcase the best undiscovered gems from across the continent and beyond,” says Oyé’s Artistic Director, Paul Duhaney. The applications have been flooding in from some incredible artists and the programme is going to be packed with international talent”

For more information go to africaoye.com.


3MA at the Top of the Transglobal World Music Chart in January 2018

3MA – Anarouz

Anarouz (Six Degrees), the latest album by 3MA, a group featuring three high profile African musicians Ballaké Sissoko, Driss El Maloumi, Rajery, is the number 1 album in January 2018 at the Transglobal World Music Chart. Ballaké Sissoko (Mali) is a kora maestro, Driss El Maloumi (Morocco) is an ud virtuoso and Rajery (Madagascar) is the leading valiha player in his country.

The rest of the January 2018 chart

2. Boubacar Traoré – Dounia Tabolo- Lusafrica

3. Efrén López, Stelios Petrakis, Bijan Chemirani – Taos – Buda Musique

4. Saz’iso – At Least Wave Your Handkerchief at Me: The Joys and Sorrows of Southern Albanian Song – Glitterbeat

5. Kapela Maliszów – Wiejski Dżez – Unzipped Fly

6. BKO – Mali Foli Coura – Buda Musique

7. Trio Da Kali and Kronos Quartet – Ladilikan – World Circuit

8. Canzoniere Grecanico Salentino – Canzoniere – Ponderosa Music

9. Anouar Brahem – Blue Maqams – ECM

10. Maya Youssef – Syrian Dreams – Harmonia Mundi

11. WoWaKin – Kraj za Miastem – WoWaKin

12. Saeid Shanbehzadeh – Pour-Afrigha – Buda Musique

13. Júlio Pereira – Praça do Comércio – Tradisom

14. Ross Daly & Kelly Thoma – Lunar – Labyrinth

15. Raúl Rodríguez – La Raíz Eléctrica – Fol Música

16. Lankum – Between the Earth and Sky – Rough Trade

17. TootArd – Laissez Passer – Glitterbeat

18. Jivan Gasparyan Duduk Ensemble – Yeraz – Buda Musique

19. Khalid Kouhen & Marylène Ingremeau – Sillage – Ouï-Dire / UVM

20. V.A. – Mista Savona Presents: Havana Meets Kingston – Baco Records / VP Records

For more information go to www.transglobalwmc.com


Artist Profiles: Tama


Tama was a Pan-African world fusion project made in the late 1990s. The Tama album Nostalgie came about when Tom Diakite (Mali), Sam Mills (UK) and Djanuno Dabo (Guinea Bissau) met while performing with Bengali master Paban Das Baul. According to Sam: “We had some spare time booked in a studio and played a few songs which were impromptu but sounded really good and were enough for us to convince Real World to record an album.”

Primarily based on singer and multi-instrumentalist Tom Diakite’s material, the album displays a combination of rhythms and influences from West Africa with European music elements. Tom said: “Originally I came from the same part of Mali as Oumou Sangare and Nahawa Doumbia, the Wasulu and the music I learned there was already a mix – something different from the mainstream Malian tradition. Now I use aspects of the tradition like the pentatonic scale adding some blues and non-Malian elements both in the vocals and in the guitar, piano, cello and ud instrumentation.”

Tama made a second and final album titled Espace (Real World, 2002).


Nostalgie (Real World, 1999)
Espace (Real World, 2002)


Sauti za Busara Announces 2018 Festival Line-up

Zanzibar Taarab Ensemble

Sauti za Busara, the prestigious African music festival held in Zanzibar has announced the lineup for 2018. The festival, held in Zanzibar’s Stone Town, will take place over four days during February 8 – 11, 2018 with 44 performances live on three stages. Additional headliners will be announced in the next weeks.

Sauti za Busara Festival Line-up

Kasai Allstars (DRC), Zakes Bantwini (South Africa), Alsarah & the Nubatones (Sudan / USA), Msafiri Zawose (Tanzania), Ribab Fusion (Morocco), Kidum & the Boda Boda Band (Burundi / Kenya), Mlimani Park Orchestra (Tanzania), Afrikan Boy (Nigeria / UK), Mohamed Ilyas & Nyota Zameremeta (Zanzibar), Matona’s Cultural Band (Zanzibar /Tanzania), Makadem (Kenya), Mangwenya Diana Samkange (Zimbabwe), Fatma Zidan (Egypt / Denmark), Inganzo Ngari (Rwanda), Mzungu Kichaa (Tanzania / Denmark), Segere Original (Tanzania), Simangavole (Reunion), Jally Kebba Susso (Gambia), Maia & the Big Sky (Kenya), Kiltir (Reunion), El Dey (Algeria), Maulidi ya Homu ya Mtendeni (Zanzibar), Simbin Project (Switzerland), CAC Fusion (Tanzania), Mbanaye (Malawi), Ernest Ikwanga (Malawi), Isack Abeneko (Tanzania), Grace Matata (Tanzania), Safi Theatre (Tanzania), Siti & the Band (Zanzibar), Matona’s Afdhal Group (Zanzibar / Norway), Mapanya Band (Zanzibar / Norway), Zanzibar Taarab Ensemble (Zanzibar).

More at www.busaramusic.org


Carmen Souza’s Transatlantic Vocal Brilliance

Carmen Souza – Creology (Galileo Music, 2017)

On Creology, Carmen Souza continues to explore Cape Verdean, Brazilian and other lusophone influences interweaving jazz elements. Carmen’s vocal range continues to marvel, changing her pitch easily, from childlike voices to deep bass tones. She adds great vocal overdubs, plus male choruses and call and response sections.

Carmen Souza’s band is spectacular as always, with composer and bass maestro on electric bass, backing vocals and percussion. The equally talented Elias Kacomanolis utilizes a wide-range of global percussion and also contributes backing vocals. Zoe Pascal is a guest percussionist.

Although Carmen Souza is widely-known as a vocalist, she showcases her talent as an instrumentalist as well, playing superb piano on her tribute to classic American jazz, “Pretty Eyes.”

Buy Creology in Europe

Buy Creology in the rest of the world


Ladilikan by Trio Da Kali and Kronos Quartet Tops the Transglobal World Music Chart in September 2017

Ladilikan (World Circuit), a collaboration between Malian act Trio Da Kali and acclaimed American string ensemble Kronos Quartet is the number album of the Transglobal World Music Chart in September 2017.

Trio Da Kali includes some of the finest musicians in Mali: vocalist Hawa Kassé Mady Diabaté, bala master Lassana Diabaté (of AfroCubism) and bass ngoni vistuoso Mamadou Kouyaté (son of Bassekou Kouyaté).

David Harrington (of Kronos Quartet) described the recording as “one of the most beautiful collaborations Kronos has had in our first 40 years.”



Buy Ladilikan

More about the chart: http://www.transglobalwmc.com