Sia Tolno

Sia Tolno

Explosive: a woman takes up Afrobeat!


The Yoruba, funk, jazz fusion of Afrobeat is rough, rowdy and political. It was introduced at the end of the 60s by the prince of the Nigerian resistance, Fela Anikulapo Kuti. Yet Guinea’s Sia Tolno is not afraid to take up Fela’s torch. Her third album, African Woman, challenges male supremacy in a forceful style derived from Ghanaian ‘high-life’.


African Woman – 2014

Mouka Mouka- 2014 (EP)

My Life – 2011

Odju Watcha – 2011 (EP)

Eh Sangah – 2009

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The most melodious, charismatic singer of an entire generation of Cape-Verdean artists.


Lura was quietly studying sports education (her speciality was swimming) in Lisbon, when Juka, a successful singer originally from São Tome and Principe, asked her to appear on his new album. “I was seventeen. I was supposed to be sing backing vocals, but in the end, Juka asked me to sing a duet with him. I’d never thought about singing, but he insisted,” remembers Lura. It was then that she realized she had a voice, with a deep, sensual tone. Juka’s zouk was a hit when a Portuguese producer helped her record her first album, a dance record for her generation. She was then 21. “The record was mainly meant for clubs,” she explains, but despite the album’s commercial flavour, one song, “Nha Vida” (My Life), drew a great deal of attention when it was included on the Red Hot + Lisbon album the following year, in 1997.

Lusafrica took an interest in the young singing prodigy when she sang a duet with Bonga, “Mulemba Xangola”, and in 2004, the label produced Di Korpu Ku Alma (Of Body and Soul), Lura’s real Cape Verdean record, whose reputation was boosted back home and among the diaspora by the success of “Na Ri Na”. In 2005, the album was released in more than 10 countries, including the USA, Italy (where it was one of the top-selling records of the summer) and the UK (where it was nominated at the “BBC World Music Awards”). About Di Korpu Ku Alma, Portuguese journalist José Eduardo Agualusa wrote, “as I have constantly told anyone who would listen, the future of Cape Verdean music already has a name, and that name is Lura”, while UK daily The Independent promised, “When her international career gets going, this girl will fill stadiums.” With this album Lura was nominated in France at the “Victoires de la Musique”, in 2006, for “Best World Music album”.

For her next album, M’bem di Fora (I’ve come from far away) in November 2006, Lura travelled the world, winning over audiences who proved ever more loyal and attentive to her music. Three years later, she launched Eclipse which confirmed the immense talent of Lura, jewel of the new Cape Verdean generation. Yet she modestly admits: “My career has been a continual surprise to me since I discovered my voice in my teenage years up until now. I take it one day at a time, but I’ll be a singer for the rest of my life. I’m positive about it. I don’t know why.”

In 2010, Lusafrica releases The Best of Lura, an album gathering her best recordings and “Moda Bô”, recorded with Cesaria Evora in the early weeks of 2010 which is a tribute song to the Barefoot Diva, written by Lura. The album also includes a DVD containing a concert shot by the Portuguese television, as well as bonus videos.

Like every other Cape-Verdean artist, Lura was distraught when Cesaria passed away in December 2011. A year later, she paid tribute to the Barefoot Diva’s memory with the song “Nós Diva”, released on YouTube. Taking a step back, the singer decided to return to her roots in Praia, Cape Verde, but still continued to perform, regularly appearing all over the world to the delight of her fans. Empowered by her contacts with the archipelago’s musicians and composers, Lura returned to the studio at the start of 2015 to make a new album, due for release at the end of the year. Vibrant, tremendously danceable and so very Cape-Verdean, Herança (Heritage) focuses on the archipelago’s energizing up-tempo funana beat with songs that include “Maria di Lida”, “Sabi di Más” and “Ness Tempo di Nha Bidjissa”.

Herança gives us a chance to reconnect with the intensity of Cape Verde and its people, traditions and music, all reflected in the art of the most melodious, charismatic singer of an entire generation of Cape-Verdean performers. Lura’s singing and each of the album’s tracks remind us just how the essence of multiculturalism and traditional Creole music have given rise to a universal vocal genre at the heart of Africa’s best-kept secret: Cape Verde.


Alguem Di Alguem – 2018

Herança – 2015

Best Of Lura – 2010

Eclipse – 2009

M’Bem Di Fora – 2006

Di Korpu Ku Alma – 2004

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Icon of Angolan music


Icon of Angolan music Bonga is on first-name terms with the stars and has given true meaning to the concept (albeit multifaceted) of ‘Africanness’. From Luanda to Rotterdam, Paris to Lisbon, and everywhere else, Bonga belongs to that caste of African singers who have sublimated their roots. His rasping, powerful voice is immediately identifiable and anyone listening to his albums remains entranced from start to finish. He was born José Adelino Barcelo de Carvalho in Kipiri on 5 September 1942, but changed his name to Bonga Kuenda when he reached his teens, already showing a keen awareness of the realities of Portuguese colonialism. He learned about music from his father, and rapidly grasped its potential impact when linked to the political aspirations of his generation and an inexhaustible melancholic vein.

As he is always ready to explain, he never faltered in his principles.
“All Angolan culture was under Portuguese domination. Traditional languages were banned, as was African music. We had no weapons to fight with, so we organised cultural resistance, especially by forming folk groups, including Kissueia, my first band. With Kissueia, I sang songs that revived ancestral African forms and whose lyrics clearly referred to the troubled situation at the time, poverty, colonial violence and latent revolt.”

In the mid-Sixties, Bonga’s athletic talents took him to Portugal. There, he ironically became the national 400-metres champion under his birth name while playing an active part in the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola. When the Salazar regime finally realised he was playing a double game, he managed to get out just in time and went into exile in Rotterdam in the Netherlands.
There, in 1972, he recorded a harrowing first album soberly entitled “Angola 72”, with Capeverdean musicians for the Dutch label Morabeza (today available on Lusafrica). This key record quickly became something of a soundtrack for Angola’s struggle for independence. Its star song was the emblematic “Mona Ki Ngi Xica”, a lamento of unfathomable Atlantic depth.

His wanderlust then took him to Paris, where he recorded a second album that proved just as important as the first – “Angola 74”, featuring a magnificent version of “Sodade”, which would be popularised by Cesaria Evora nearly twenty years later. With Salazar ousted and Angola now independent, Bonga divided his time between Lisbon and Luanda. He had many hits, but refused to play the part of a Portuguese-speaking Julio Iglesias, although certain producers urged him to do so.

It was not until 2000 that he signed with Lusafrica and immediately released the irresistible “Mulemba Xangola”, sung as a duet with Lura. The song dealt with disturbingly-topical, universal themes. In a way, with its ambience of national reconciliation, this record marked the end of the Angolan Civil War. Three more equally cosmopolitan and danceable albums formulating strong identity-related demands – “Kaxexe” in 2003, “Maiorais” in 2005 and “Bairro” in 2008 – added the final touch to the legend of a singer in perpetual motion. Bonga is unstoppable on stage, and also when he talks about his country with stars in his eyes and a tremor in his warm, hoarse voice. Although he has been living in Lisbon and Paris for around thirty years, his personal history is terribly coherent. “I began my career as a protest singer. I criticised the Portuguese first, and then my own people. The people lost out in the end. Angola has incredible wealth. Today, the aim is happiness. I don’t want to go into politics. I’m too genuine in what I say. I’m not the kind of person to hang around waiting for freedom to happen.”

Year 2009 saw the release of the “Best of Bonga”, a collection of classics, containing also previously-unreleased (“Dikanga”), rare (“Agua Rara”, “De Maos A Abanar”) or remixed (“Kapakiao”) songs. This eighteen-track compilation covers the legacy of a free man and a great singer. Breaking down physical and musical frontiers with songs and music that appeal to the majority, Bonga is the champion of a sublimated ‘Africanness’ and the voice of a modern, peaceful Angola. Then in 2012, it was the turn of “Hora Kota” (The Time of the Elders). This is Bonga’s thirtieth album (his fifth studio album on the Lusafrica label) featuring eleven faultless new songs reporting on the state of his native Angola where he is again living after a very long absence. Bonga is a sincere man with broad shoulders. He knows how to dig in his heels and push back. The Netherlands, Paris, Belgium, Lisbon… Bonga has lived everywhere – and in all those places and more, people recognise his greatness of soul. “Hora Kota” is not for the “doutores” – the dignitaries that the downtrodden people invariably called “doctor”. It is a remedy for the blues.

At an age when most people are enjoying a well-earned retirement, Bonga is hugely in demand. Singer Bernard Lavilliers, the perpetual rebel, has covered “Mona Ki Ngi Xica” in French as a duet with the Angolan. African artists of the new generation (such as Gaël Faye and Lexxus Legal) cite his influence and Ana Moura invited him to join a tribute to Amália Rodrigues in Portugal. On his last album “Recados de Fora” (Messages from Elsewhere), Bonga – who just celebrated his 74th birthday – tells the tale of a fascinating journey across different times and continents. The Atlantic Ocean forms an ever-present connecting thread. The singer-songwriter looks back pell-mell over his youth, his increasing awareness of Portuguese colonization, how his father introduced him to music, and his love of semba, the symbol of Angolan national identity (kizomba, a favorite genre for younger generations, is a modernized version of semba). In fact, as one of the last great names in postcolonial African music, Bonga embodies semba today – a fact clearly reflected in “Tonokenu”, a song in the purest tradition of his roots.


Kintal da Banda – 2022

Banza Rémy (Bonga meets Batida) – 2018

Recados de Fora – 2016

Hora Kota – 2011

Best Of – 2009

Bairro – 2011

Maiorais – 2005

Live – 2004

Kaxexe – 2003

Mulemba Xangola – 2000

Angola 72/74 (2012 re-issue)

Angola 74 – LP (2018 re-issue)

Angola 72 – LP (2018 re-issue)

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