Tag Archives: African music

Ongala Music Festival 2019 to Feature Rising East African Acts

Tanzanian group Ze Spirits Band

The second annual Ongala Music Festival will take place August 23 to 25 in Bagamoyo, Tanzania. The festival is named after celebrated Tanzanian musician Remmy Ongala. The event celebrates the rising talent of Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda.

For more information about the lineup go to ongalamusicfest.co.tz

Share

Santana and Buika Back to the Roots

Santana – Africa Speaks (Concord Records, 2019)

Two iconic artists, guitarist Carlos Santana and vocalist Santana teamed up to record a superb album titled Africa Speaks .

Carlos Santana brought to the table his wide-ranging experience in mixing Afro-Cuban music with rock, jazz and other global music influences. Afro-Spanish singer Buika is deeply influenced by the African music of her parents, flamenco, jazz, soul and Afropop.

Santana – Africa Speaks

Together, Santana and Buika deliver a remarkable album, where two unique sounds meet and intertwine:  Santana’s highly recognizable electric guitar and Buika’s distinctive voice and singing style.

Santana was a pioneer in world fusion, combining Cuban music and rock in his early albums. Now, rock, African, flamenco and Afro-Latin sounds come together in an explosive mix on Africa Speaks.

This is music that I hold so dearly, and it’s not a stranger to me,” says Carlos Santana. “The rhythms, grooves and melodies from Africa have always inspired me. It’s in my DNA. If you take your inspiration from many, it’s called research. I researched this beautiful music from the African continent. They have a frequency that’s all their own. It’s funny, because when I play in Africa, people say, ‘How do you know our music?’ And I say, ‘How can I not know what I love?’”

Personnel: Carlos Santana on lead electric and rhythm guitars, backing vocals and percussion; Buika on lead vocals; Laura Mvula on backing vocals; Cindy Blackman Santana, on drums; Salvador Santana on keyboards; Tommy Anthony on rhythm guitar; Benny Rietveld on bass; Karl Perazzo on timbales, congas and percussion; David K. Mathews on Hammond B3 organ and keyboards; Andy Vargas on backing vocals; and Ray Greene on backing vocals.

Africa Speaks brings out of the best of Santana and Buika: memorable guitars and exceptionally expressive vocals rooted in African traditions. One of Santana’s finest albums in many years.

Buy Africa Speaks in the Americas

Buy Africa Speaks in Europe

Share

Final Set of live acts announced for Africa Oyé festival

Additional artists from Malawi, Jamaica and Haiti have been revealed in the final set of acts for the 27th annual Africa Oyé festival this summer: Gasper Nali, Jah9 and Wesli. The festival will take place in Liverpool’s Sefton Park on June 22-23. Africa Oyé celebrates the music and culture of Africa and the Diaspora.

Jah9

With a vocal style that has been likened to Ella Fitzgerald, and a contemporary freshness in the same style as Erykah Badu, Jah9 has become somewhat of an icon for the Jamaican movement known as ‘The Reggae Revival’. Her philosophy, spirituality and unique ‘jazz on dub’ style has traveled across Europe and beyond since her debut album New Name launched in 2013 to wide acclaim.

Wesli

Making a welcome return to the festival after his 2016 set was cut short due to travel difficulties, is the multi award-winning Haitian star, Wesli. His music aims to give a new mainstream life to rhythms and instruments that he says have been neglected as Haiti faces an increasing amount of global commercial music and culture.

Gasper Nali

Rounding off this final wave of artists is Malawian one-man-band Gasper Nali. Gasper is a Kwela roots musician from the small town of Nkhata Bay on the shores of Lake Malawi. Playing a one-string, homemade, 3-metre-long Babatoni bass guitar with a stick and an empty beer bottle, together with a cow skin kick drum, he creates dance-inducing Afro Beats.

The final list of artists join a line-up that already includes The Garifuna Collective, Horace Andy, BCUC, Moonlight Benjamin, Sofiane Saidi & Mazalda, Carlou D and OSHUN, as well as Liverpool emerging stars Tabitha Jade and Satin Beige who make up the ‘Oyé Introduces’ program.

Africa Oyé’s Artistic Director said of the final set of artists: “These three artists really represent the diversity of the festival line-up that we strive for each year. We’ve got a breaking female reggae star, a one-man-band with instruments he’s crafted himself and an international award winning star returning to our stage; artists representing Africa, the Caribbean and the wider diaspora – it’s a perfect final wave of live acts for this year’s festival and I can’t wait for everyone to see them perform.”

As well as the international offering of live music on the main stage, festivalgoers will also be able to eat and drink their way around the world with a range of food vendors and traders’ wares on offer in the Oyé Village.

Entrance is FREE and a ticket is not needed.

For more information visit africaoye.com.

headline photo: Africa Oye festival – Photo by Matt Hart

Share

Artist Profiles: Gasper Nali

Gasper Nali

Malawian one-man-act Gasper Nali is a Kwela roots musician from the small town of Nkhata Bay on the shores of Lake Malawi. He plays a one-string, home-made, 3-meter long Babatoni bass guitar with a stick and an empty beer bottle, along with a cow skin kick drum. With this arrangement, he creates amazing, dance-inducing Afro Beats.

Gasper Nali’s unique style of music has received an extraordinary amount of online attention after a video of him playing by the lake shore went viral with more than 18 million views. He has been featured by CNN, jammed with Joss Stone, appeared on Wired for Sound – Malawi, and has also been featured on BBC 6 Music.

Discography:

Abale Ndikuwuzeni ‎(Spare Dog Records, 2015)
Zoona Malawi ‎(Spare Dog Records, 2017)

Share

Santana Reveals details about New album, Africa Speaks

Carlos Santana

Celebrated guitarist and composer Carlos Santana has released the video electronic press kit from his upcoming album, Africa Speaks (Concord Records).

Santana and his eight-piece band (that includes Santana’s wife, Cindy Blackman Santana, on drums), got together at Shangri La Studios in Malibu to record a large number of tracks during a 10-day period. Acclaimed Afro-Spanish singer Buika provided the lead vocals throughout the album.

Share

Angelique Kidjo’s Spirited Celebration of Afro-Latin Music

Angelique Kidjo – Celia (Verve/Universal Music France, 2019)

As a young girl, Angelique Kidjo was inspired by Cuban singer and salsa star Celia Cruz. Angelique’s new album, Celia , recreates some of Celia’s most popular songs. It is also a celebration of Afro-Latin music as it includes salsa, Afro-Cuban and Afro-Peruvian material.

Angelique Kidjo – Celia

For this recording, Angelique sings in Spanish and chose some of the most Yoruban-influenced songs by Celia Cruz. Angelique’s band features well known musicians from Benin, the United States, the UK and Nigeria, including Nigerian Afrobeat trailblazer Tony Allen on drums, American musician Meshell Ndegeocello on bass, British jazz outfit Sons of Kemet, and acclaimed Beninese act Gangbé Brass Band.

Celia is a colorful and beautifully-delivered tribute to one of the essential vocalists from the 20th century.

Share

Les Amazones d’Afrique Release New Single and Video: ‘Amazones Power’

Les Amazones d’Afrique have released a new single titled ‘Amazones Power‘ (Real World Records). The current lineup includes some new faces, including female musicians from West Africa, joined by additional artists from Ethiopia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Colombia, Guyana, Spain and Algeria. Also featured are the male voices of Douranne and Magué from the Parisian band Nyoko Bokbae.

The group’s message is still loud and clear: Violence against women must stop. Women must be able to realize their potential and not be held back by the dominant patriarchy. ‘Amazones Power’ tackles these issues head on. “Never again, silence, violence. I want to live and to be free.”

Les Amazones d’Afrique’s debut album République Amazone came out in 2017 on Real World Records . The ensemble features three generations of women, who sing out in unison, calling for a future without the threat of female genital mutilation (FGM), sexual violence, lack of education and forced marriage.

The group will return for a series of concerts throughout Europe this summer.

Share

An Excellent Black Atlantic 2019 Festival

The second edition of the Black Atlantic series brought an excellent sampling of African and Afro-rooted music to Durham, North Carolina.

Kinobe, Derek Gripper and Jaja Bashengezi – Photo by Angel Romero

The first concert featured South African musician Derek Gripper, Congolese guitarist Jaja Bashengezi and Ugandan multi-instrumentalist Kinobe. Classically-trained Gripper has adapted the kora technique to the guitar. Kinobe played a fascinating Baganda harp called ndongo. This was a relaxed, virtuosic concert, focusing on the melodic side of African music. Derek Gripper has two albums related to his kora reinterpretations: One Night on Earth (2012) and Libraries on Fire (2016).

Fatoumata Diawara – Photo by Angel Romero

One of the highlights of the festival was Malian artist Fatoumata Diawara. I had seen her a few years ago when she was a rising artist. Years later, she has blossomed into one of the finest acts from West Africa and the world music scene in general. Her sold-out concert featured an explosive mix of modernized Malian traditional music, Afrobeat and Afro-rock. She speaks English very well and engaged the audience easily with her charisma and charm.

What surprised me (and the audience) the most is when she picked up her electric guitar several times and started soloing, ranging from Malian desert blues to Afro-rooted rock. Clearly spectacular. Fatoumata’s recent albums include Fatou and Fenfo.

Noura Mint Seymali – Photo by Angel Romero

The third concert in the series featured the captivating, trance-like Western Saharan sound of Mauritanian singer and ardine player Noura Mint Seymali along with her electric band. Her discography includes Tzenni (2014) and Arbina (2016).

Daymé Arocena – Photo by Angel Romero

Next was another highlight, spectacular Cuban singer Daymé Arocena. She also expressed herself in English very well, encouraged dancing and call and response interaction with the audience, and explained how Cuba is proud of its African and Spanish roots. Daymé bridges traditional Cuban, Afro-Cuban and American jazz. Her dazzling band featured world class Cuban instrumentalists, who obviously love jazz-rock fusion when they get opportunities to jam. Daymé’s highly recommended albums include Nueva Era (2015) and Cubafonía (2017).

Unfortunately, I was unable to attend the Friday and Saturday concerts, although a colleague reported that the Dafnis Prieto Big Band concert was stunning. The show featured a 17-member big band performing Afro-Cuban jazz and ballads. This format appears in Dafnis Prieto’s album Back to the Sunset.

Kudos to Duke Performances for this highly successful series and special thanks to Eric Oberstein and King Kenney for their support.

Share

Angelique Kidjo to Release Celia Cruz Tribute Album

Angelique Kidjo – Celia

African music star Angelique Kidjo is set to release her new album Celia (Verve/Universal Music France) on April 19, 2019. The new recording reimagines and celebrates “The Queen of Salsa,” Cuban artist Celia Cruz. Guests on the album include Nigerian Afrobeat pioneer Tony Allen on drums, Meshell Ndegeocello on bass, Sons Of Kemet, and Gangbé Brass Band.

Angelique Kidjo is currently touring the United States, presenting songs from her 2018 album Remain In Light, which reconceptualized the music of influential rock band Talking Heads.

She will be at the Savannah Music Festival on April 6th, 2019 and at Carolina Theatre in Durham, North Carolina on April 8th. Other tour dates include:

April 11
Ulster Performing Arts Center
Kingston, NY

April 12
McCarter Theatre Center
Princeton, NJ

Share

Ugandan Global Travels

Nsimbi – Nsimbi

Nsimbi – Nsimbi (Imara Records / Baboon Forest, 2018)

Nsimbi brings together American world fusion vocalist Miriam Tamar and Ugandan singer-rapper and spoken word artist GNL Zamba. With the help of superb East African musicians, multi-instrumentalist Jaja Bashengezi and percussionist Herbert Kinobe, Nsimbi combines East African melodies and a wide-range of pan-African beats with exquisite electric and acoustic guitar and western vocals techniques.

The album includes vocals in various languages, including English, Swahili, Luganda and Lingala.

Share