Tag Archives: Africando

Artist Profiles: Sekouba “Bambino” Diabaté

Sekouba “Bambino” Diabaté
Sekouba “Bambino” Diabaté

Sekouba “Bambino” Diabaté was born in the small village of Siguiri (Guinea) near the Malian border. He is descended from griots or jeli (a caste of musically gifted oral-historians, messengers and bards in West Africa), his mother Mariama Samoura was one of the most celebrated singers of her time.

At the tender age of 12, Sekouba was discovered by Guinean President, Sekou Touré and at the President’s urging he became the frontman for the state-sponsored group Bembeya Jazz National. Joining the group earned him the moniker ‘Bambino’ due to his young age and to differentiate him from one of the group’s guitarists also named Sekou Diabaté (Sekou ‘Diamond Fingers’ Diabate). Sekouba is also known as “The National Treasure of Guinea”.

After the privatization and subsequent break-up of Bembeya Jazz, Bambino became the lead singer of Africando before leaving the group to pursue a solo career. Since that time Bambino has recorded several successful solo albums and collaborated on several others with Bembeya Jazz and Africando.

He has been featured on compilations such as: The Rough Guide to Mali & Guinea and World 2003 by EMI. His song, “Decouragé” was remixed by British DJ, Charles Webster and featured on the Buddha Bar Vol. 2 compilation.

Sekouba Bambino is an ambassador of Guinean music and griot culture, breathing new life into ancient rhythms and bridging the divide between traditional and modern Africa while remaining true to his heritage. He is a multi-instrumentalist singer-songwriter of virtuoso talent.

Critically acclaimed and internationally sought-after, Bambino remains a champion of the people. Bambino is a Red Cross ambassador and an advocate for change seeking to educate the world about the plight of children suffering the effects of poverty, war and disease. Bambino’s lyrics speak to the human condition reinforcing basic values and encouraging us to treat one another with kindness and respect.

His soft-spoken demeanor and profound humility have endeared him to the hearts of the African people and in spite of his superstar status Bambino has not forgotten his role as a griot; a role that he does not take lightly. It is his love for his people and for the whole of humanity that has helped him transcend language and cultural borders to spread his dream of peace and tolerance wherever he goes.


Télégramme, with Bembeya Jazz (Sonodisc, 1985)

Koumbatènèn, with Bembeya Jazz (Sonodisc, 1986)

Sabou, with Bembeya Jazz (Sonodisc, 1987)

Wakelen, with Bembeya Jazz (Sonodisc, 1988)

Sama (Super Sélection, 1990)

Destin (Super Sélection, 1992)

Syli National I (Super Sélection, 1994)

Kassa (Syllart Production, 1996)

Bonya (Syllart Production, 1996)

Gombo Salsa, with Africando (Syllart Productions, 1997)

Syli National II (Super Sélection, 1998)

Baloba, with Africando (Syllart Productions, 1999)

Bétécé, with Africando (Syllart Productions, 2000)

Les leader de Guinée, with Groupe les leaders (Syllart Productions, 2000)

Sinikan (Syllart Productions, 2002)

Ambiance Ballon (2004)

Ma Guinée (2011)

Innovation (2012)


Artist Profiles: Gnonnas Pedro

Gnonnas Pedro
Gnonnas Pedro

Gnonnan Sossou Pierre Kouassivi, better known as Gnonnas Pedro, was a singer-songwriter, salsero and musician born in Lokossa, Benin.

Gnonnas Pedro had always excelled in many styles of music but if one had to associate him with a particular genre it would be Agbadja. Agbadja is a rhythm hugely popular in Togo, Benin and Ghana, and is used mainly during burial ceremonies. It is based on three percussions, each one of them with a different tone.

Agbadja was born in and dominates a region called Le Mono in the center of Benin and also the birthplace of Gnonnas Pedro. Gnonnas adopted and modernized the rhythm in the mid-1960s calling it “Agbadja Moderne”. It became his trademark and he was soon dubbed “Le Roi du Rhythme Agbadja.” In addition to Agbadja, he also played highlife and juju.

Pedro led his own bands Pedro y sus Panchos, later reforming as Gnonnas Pedro and his Dadjes Band, before joining the long-lived Orchestre Poly-rythmo de Cotonou. He sang in many different languages, including Minad, Adja, Yoruba, French, English, and Spanish.

Gnonnas Pedro became well-known internationally as the lead singer of Africando between 1995 and 2004.

Gnonnas Pedro died August 12, 2004 in a hospital in Cotonu, Benin.


Dadjes: The Band Of Africa (1975)
Gnonnas Pedro (Disco Stock, 1979)
El Cochechivo (Ledoux, 1981)
Gombo Salsa, with Africando (Stern’s Africa STCD1071, 1996)
Baloba, with Africando (Stern’s Africa STCD1082, 1998)
Agbadja (Syllart, 1999)
Irma koi (Syllart, 1999)
Mandali, with Africando (Stern’s Africa STCD1092, 2000)
Live!, with Africando (Sono CDS8907, double CD, 2001)
Martina, with Africando (Stern’s Africa STCD1096, 2003)
The best of Gnonnas Pedro (2003)
Ketukuba, with Africando (Stern’s Africa STCD1103, 2006)


Artist Profiles: Africando


Africando is part of the interesting phenomenon of round-trip rhythms that come and go from the Americas. It is well known that salsa and Caribbean rhythms have African roots. But it is also true that a lot of modern African music owes a lot of its influences to salsa and Cuban son.

Africando is a group that brings together African and Caribbean cultures together. It was formed in 1992 by Senegalese and Latin musicians who met each other thanks to Malian flautist Boncana Maiga. Maiga loved Cuban music ever since he visited the island as an exchange student. Boncana Maiga and producer Ibrahima Sylla brought together three Senegalese singers: Nicolas Menheim, Pape Seck (from the Star Band de Dakar) and Medoune Diallo, who used to be the lead singer for Orchestre Baobab. Boncana Maiga recruited some of the best New York-based salsa musicians: Adalberto Santiago, Yayo el Indio, Ronnie Baró, Sergio George, Johnny Torres, Bobby Allende, Bomberito Zarzuela, Papo Pepín and many others who have played with well known bands such as Orquesta Broadway, Fania All Stars, Sonora Matancera, Sonora Ponceña or the Tito Puente, Eddie Palmieri and Cachao bands.

The result of this incredible gathering of talented musicians was an album titled “Trovador” sung in a new language that the Senegalese musicians wolofspañol (a mixture of Senegalese Wolof and Spanish). A song from Africando’s second album, “Tierra tradicional,” reached the top of New York’s Latin charts.

In 1995, one of the Senegalese singers, Pape Seck, sadly died and the remaining two singers had to look for a replacement. Instead of one they found two: singer Gnonnas Pedro, from Benin and Ronnie Baró, singer of the Orquesta Broadway, brother-in-law of Boncana Maiga and a collaborator with the band since the very beginning.

On the latest albums, more guest singers were invited, such as Sekouba Bambino, Medoune Diallo, Amadou Balake and Koffi Olomide, which led to the new name Africando All Stars.

While in the beginning the songs were Latin classics sung in Wolof or a mix of Wolof and Spanish, the newer songs were primarily African classics, redone with Latin rhythms and instrumentation. With both approaches, Africando has been equally successful.


Volume 1: Trovador (Stern’s Africa STCD1045, 1993)
Volume 2: Tierra Tradicional (Stern’s Africa STCD1054, 1994)
Gombo Salsa (Stern’s Africa STCD1071, 1996)
Baloba! (Stern’s Africa STCD1082, 1998)
Mandali (Stern’s Africa STCD1092, 2000)e
Live! (Sono CDS8907, double CD, 2001)
Martina (Stern’s Africa STCD1096, 2003)
Ketukuba (Stern’s Africa STCD1103, 2006)
Viva Africando (Stern’s Music STCD1120, 2013)