Bamba Wassoulou Groove

Bamba Wassoulou Groove

A heavy dance machine


The Bamba Wassoulou Groove was born in Bamako in 2013 on the initiative of Bamba Dembélé, (who passed in 2018) percussionist and co-founder of the Super Djata Band, mythical group of Zani Diabaté, the most original and funky guitarist of music of Mali after independence. The Bamba Wassoulou Groove is composed of 6 musicians (three guitars,one bass, a drum and a singer) and is here to create a real wall of sound. Solis with Hendrixian virtuosos, trance voice, evil bass and drum sections, the band is a heavy dance machine who electrifies the Malian music and recreates the excitement of the hot nights in Bamako.

Philippe Conrath (creator of Festival Africolor) explains : “To create the Bamba Wassoulou Groove a connoisseur was needed, a man of confidence who would also ensure human and musical unity. Who better than Bamba Dembélé to build such a band? Bamba, the indispensable, the fixer, the invincible. Former member of Zani Diabatatés legendary Super Djata Band, he had all the contacts in Bamako to set up the Wassoulou Groove. Helaunched a formidable machine with an unrelenting rhythm, that allowed the three fierce guitars of the group to soar, carrying Ousmane Diakité’s voice into a trance. funk, rock, the Bamba Wassoulou Groove is a new virus that will contaminate the world’s dance floors.” « In our Music, no praises ” Maguett « Dr Drum » Diop drummer of Bamba Wassoulou Groove


Dankélé – 2020

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Boubacar Traoré

Boubacar Traoré

The vital connection between Mali and the Mississippi.


Boubacar Traoré carries within him all the beauty of African blues. A diamond among the jewels of Mandingo music, he shines with the dark glow of exceptional purity. Only the voice of “Kar Kar” (a footballing nickname meaning “The Dribbler” given him by his friends, who also love the beautiful game) can blend Niger and Mississippi river alluvia with such moving authenticity. His unique, inimitable, self-taught guitar technique owes a great deal to his kora influences, but its shades and phrasing also suggest the great black bluesmen of the deep South: Blind Willie McTell, Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters and others.

Back in the 60s when the euphoria of African independence reigned, the 20-year-old Boubacar Traoré was Mali’s Chuck Berry and Elvis Presley. He was the first to play Mandingo-based music on electric guitar, long before his junior, Ali Farka Touré. In those days, Malians would wake to the sound of Boubacar’s poignant voice and saturated riffs. Hits including “Mali Twist” (Children of independent Mali, we must stand on our feet / Let all the young people return to their homeland / We must build the country together) and “Kayeba” provided dance music for a generation who were enjoying freedom for the first time. But then the celebrations and lyrical illusions ended. On the 19th November 1968, a bitter wind blew across Mali when Modibo Keita’s socialist government was overthrown by a military coup. Kar Kar and his songs were exiled from the airwaves. Returning penniless to Kayes, his hometown in the Kassonké region (to the northeast of Bamako near the Senegalese border), Boubacar became a farm worker, opened a shop with his elder brother – the one who had introduced him to the guitar and given him his first one – and worked to feed his family.

He was rediscovered in 1987 when reporters from Malian national television visited Kayes. “Kar, you have to come to Bamako. You’ve never been seen on television since it began. Everyone should realise you’re not dead, you’re alive…” It was a renaissance for the artist. “People were amazed to see me. Most of them had only heard me on the radio,” he said at the time. Yet fate was to put a stop to Kar Kar’s musical rebirth. Pierrette, his beautiful mixed-race wife, his muse, his love, died bringing their last child into the world. Despairing and distraught, Kar Kar became a shadow of himself. It was then that he decided to look for work in Paris, where he joined the community of Malian migrant workers and shared their harsh life. “I was a building worker for two years,” is his only comment on this personal experience, but one of his songs says it all: “You can be a king at home, but when you’re a migrant, you’re a nobody.” The legacy of his time in the Barbès immigrant quarter of Paris and the hostel in Montreuil where he sometimes performed is the flat cap the tall Malian wears today.

In Paris, an English producer discovered him and took him to the studio to record his first album, “Mariama”, in 1990. Poignant, spare and melancholic, Kar Kar’s music had changed since his youth in the 60s. Now it was more refined, the art of a mature man expressing his heartaches and joys in song, his unique vocal timbre shrouded in nostalgia and poetry. Boubacar Traoré’s life changed quickly after the record’s release. He recorded another 6 albums: “Sécheresse” (Drought) in 1992; “Les enfants de Pierrette” (Pierrette’s Children) in 1995, “Sa Golo” in 1996, “Maciré” in 1999, music from the eponymous film directed by Jacques Sarasin: “Je chanterai pour toi” (I’ll Sing for You) in 2002, and “Kongo Magni” in 2005. Kar Kar made up for lost time, triumphing on stage first in Europe and then in the United States and Canada.

When Lusafrica bought the Marabi label in 2010, it is naturally that José da Silva proposed to Boubacar to join the catalog of Cesaria Evora and Bonga. Released in 2011, “Mali Denhou” is Kar Kar’s first album since 2005. It is recorded in June 2010 at Studio Moffou, on the outskirts of Bamako, with the same musical cast who had performed with him all over the world for years. The first takes were laid down with his old friend Madieye Niang on gourd and Vincent Bucher on harmonica, playing in live conditions.

The following album “Mbalimaou” (2015) was recorded at the Bogolan studios in Bamako. As with each new recording, he has added new, different touches to his music, but without losing sight of the basics that make up his supremely distinctive style. Accompanied by discreet percussion – from the young Babah Koné, precise and steady on the gourd, Yacouba Sissoko on the karignan, shaker and small traditional percussion instruments, Vincent Bucher on the harmonica and Fabrice Thompson, a drummer and percussionist from Guiana, who seasons tracks that include “Hona”, “Mbalimaou”, “Kolo Tigi”, “Saya Temokoto” and “Africa” with a heady mix of spice and original beats, Boubacar weaves gloriously simple patterns of guitar and inimitable vocals into these new songs, written whenever he could spare a moment between laboring in the fields and touring internationally. Ballaké Sissoko, a musician he has worked with before, has always been a fan. He joined in the album’s artistic production and his playing fits easily and comfortably into the elder man’s music. Ballake’s generosity, open-mindedness and responsiveness did a lot to create a relaxed, positive atmosphere during the sessions. His subtle, elegant kora perfectly complements the guitarist’s fluid, minimalist approach.

It is in the United States, in Lafayette Louisiana, that Boubacar Traoré wished to record his third album for the label Lusafrica. The guitarist’s intention was to change the coloration of his songs (old numbers like “Dounia Tabolo” ou “Kanou”, and new ones, “Ben de Kadi”, “Mousso”) while conserving their original character. So it is with musicians from the Southern States of the USA he had met on tour, Cedric Watson on violin and washboard, and Corey Harris on guitar, that he undertaked the recording of his album “Dounia Tabolo” at the end of 2016. And when he told them he wanted to add a cello and female voice to the album, Cedric Watson suggested Leyla McCalla. This recording is a new milestone in the work of this extraordinary but modest artist. From blues to folk and Cajun to Zydeco music, his new traveling companions have provided a touch of folly and swing (Cedric Watson), blues depth (Corey Harris) and discreet elegance (Leyla McCalla). More than ever, Boubacar Traoré has shown himself to be the living, vital connection between Mali and the Mississippi.

Boubacar Traoré is respected and acclaimed in his country, especially by young people. They are rediscovering the artist, one of the founding fathers and great ambassadors of modern Mandingo music. When his international tours end, Kar Kar returns to the piece of land he has bought on a hill in Bamako. There, he raises sheep and works a vegetable plot, his pride and joy. “In Mali, everyone is a farmer. It’s the most reliable way of making a living.”


M’Badehou (FNX Omar & Cee ElAssaad Remix) – 2018

Dounia Tabolo – 2017

Mbalimaou – 2015

Mali Denhou- 2011

Kongo Magni – 2005

Je Chanterai pour Toi – 2002

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“My aim is to carry on the work Cesaria began. I want to sing Cabo Verdean musical genres – such as morna and coladera – pretty much anywhere in the world”


Lucibela was born in Tarrafal on the island of São Nicolau in Cabo Verde on April 18, 1986.

She began to show an interest in singing at a very early age. When her family moved to Mindelo on the island of São Vicente, it proved to be the perfect place for her to build on her childhood passion. On entering high school, she naturally joined a local group called Mindel Som.

A few years later, she started to sing in the hotels of Santa Maria on the island of Sal and Sal Rei on the island of Boa Vista. She perfected her technique and became an immediate hit with the tourists, performing songs made famous by the great singers of Cabo Verde: Cesaria Evora, Titina, Bana…

In 2012, the young woman moved to Praia where she was soon a star attraction at musical events in the capital. She met different musicians there, including the guitarist Kaku Alves, who had played all over the world with Cesaria for around fifteen years.

In 2016, Lucibela made her debut in Lisbon. Certain journalists compared her to Cesaria Evora. “Cesaria is unique and there’ll never be another Cesaria,” modestly insisted the young singer. “My aim is to carry on the work Cesaria began. I want to sing Cabo Verdean musical genres – such as morna and coladera – pretty much anywhere in the world,” she confided, “and I want to succeed because of my own talent.” Chosen to take part in the 2017 Atlantic Music Expo – a major music fair where musicians and producers from all over the globe meet in mid-Atlantic in Praia, truly a hub of world music – Lucibela caused a stir. Local music lovers had already become fans of the singer during the few years when she performed in the bars and clubs of Praia, but she was a genuine revelation for the professionals, journalists and show promoters visiting the Expo.

Following this success, Lucibela participated in the Sfinks Festival in Belgium then, in October and November 2017, she recorded her first album in Lisbon with Toy Vieira to the realization, one of the most famous Cape Verdean musicians of the local scene, who accompanied the greatest voices in the past, Bana, Titina, Tito Paris, Cesaria Evora, Lura and many others.

With this album named Laço Umbilical (Umbilival cord) to be released in February 2018, the chanteuse is determined to conquer the scenes of the world.

Lucibela was sure that the Woman would be the main subject of her new album. With Amdjer, released on June 3rd 2022, Lucibela tributes to Cape Verdean women, but also to women in general.


Amdjer – 2022

Laço Umbilical (Bonus Version) – 2019

Laço Umbilical – 2018

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Nancy Vieira

Nancy Vieira

The finest voice of Cabo Verde


Her forebears came from the island of Boa Vista with its Saharan sands, she grew up on the African Santiago and the nomadic São Vicente, and launched her musical career in Lisbon, capital of fado and pop. Naturally, the singer with her direct, open gaze is very much at home in the world of international Portuguese-speaking culture.

Manhã Florida is the singer’s fifth album and her second recorded for the Harmonia label, Lusafrica’s partner in the archipelago. It opens with Mi Sem Bo Amor, a superb morna penned by two great figures of Cabo-Verdean music: Vitorino Chantre, poet, musician and father of Teofilo, and Amândio Cabral, writer of the iconic Sodade. The first impression is of Nancy’s controlled, supremely true, highly characteristic voice, which has won the young woman acclaim from Portuguese critics as the “finest voice of Cabo Verde” of the new generation; the second is the wealth of musical worlds that unfold over a background of uncompromising classicism.

We find ourselves swept away on a journey to Cabo Verde that leads us from one island to the next in the heart of the Atlantic, between Africa, Brazil, Europe and the Caribbean, serenaded by the guitars and cavaquinhos of some of Cabo Verde’s greatest instrumentalists: Bau, Hernani Almeida, Zeca Mauricio and Zé Paris, not to mention Teofilo Chantre, who also directed the album’s flawless production.

Teofilo, the most Parisian of Cabo-Verdean musicians, is above all famous for the songs he wrote for Cesaria Evora (starting with the 1992 album Miss Perfumado), but also for his collaborations with Bernard Lavilliers – Elle Chante (She Sings), Y a pas qu’à New-York (Not Only in New York) – and Marc Estève (for Enrico Macias). Over the last 25 years, Teofilo Chantre has made his name as one of the key artisans of Cabo-Verdean music’s success worldwide, firstly with his own records (6 studio albums and one live to his credit) and then for his numerous collaborations as songwriter or artistic producer with other artists from the archipelago. So Nancy Vieira, who had been performing his songs for a long time, very naturally asked him to produce Manhã Florida. She wanted to dedicate the album to Cabo-Verdean guitar, whose melancholy, nostalgia and joie de vivre so beautifully accompany the charms of the archipelago’s melodies. Nancy carefully selected the pieces – which laid the foundations of Cesaria’s success and seem to be of another age – from the repertoires of the great classic writers (Amândio Cabral, Eugenio Tavares, Kaka Barbosa…) or the songs of today’s generation (Teofilo, Mário Lúcio, Betu, Tiolino, Antonio Alves).


Manha Florida – 2018

No Ama – 2012

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Elida Almeida

Elida Almeida

A stunning new talent


Winner of the Prix Découvertes RFI in 2015, Elida, a young woman born on the island of Santiago, developed her vocal techniques with simple church singing. Elida Almeida has made a name for herself performing at world music venues in Europe, Africa and North America.

The unknown Elida won huge acclaim for her first album and the song Nta Konsigui (2.7 million views on YouTube), her warm, smooth voice conveying a powerful exultation. On her second album, Kebrada (named for the village where she grew up), she asserts her African identity, seasoning her Cabo Verdean beats – batuque, funaná, coladera and tabanka – with Latino energy. Her fiery temperament and joie de vivre do nothing to undermine the social criticism she expresses in her nostalgic ballads tinged with pop.

Elida Almeida shows an impressive maturity, talent and generosity.


Gerasonobu – 6 Nov 2020

Nada Ka Muda – (single 2020)

Ta Due with Roberta Campos – (single 2019)

Homi Nha Amiga – feat Elji Beatzkilla (single) – 2019

Anu Nobu (single) – 2019

Sou Free – feat Flavia Coelho -Mo Laudi Remix (single) – 2018

Kebrada – 2017

E Zonban (single) – 2017

Djunta Kudjer (EP) 2017

Ora Doci Ora Margos- 2014

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Cesaria Evora Orchestra

Cesaria Evora Orchestra

it brings together the cream of Cape-Verdean musicianship and some of today’s greatest voices


When Grammy Award winner Cesaria Evora suddenly left us on December 17, 2011, there was a huge outpouring of emotion from her fans. In 2012, thousands flocked to pay their respects to the great artist at a series of memorable concerts, especially in Toulouse, Lisbon, Amsterdam and Paris.
Some of the greatest singers in world music joined the musicians who had regularly accompanied Cesaria, lending their voices to this ultimate tribute to the woman known as The Barefoot Diva. Bonga, Angélique Kidjo, Lura, Ismaël Lô, Mayra Andrade and Bernard Lavilliers, Tito Paris were there, to name but a few.
Once the musical events were over, Cesaria’s musicians were more determined than ever to keep alive her repertoire, which had enchanted audiences all over the world.
A few formed the Cesaria Evora Orchestra, playing a first concert at the 2014 Gamboa Festival in Praia (Cabo Verde) as a tribute to the iconic singer and her tremendous achievements – especially as the international Ambassador of Cape-Verdean music.
Since then, the Cesaria Evora Orchestra has performed regularly around the world to celebrate Cesaria Evora.

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Cesaria Evora

Cesaria Evora

Our Barefoot Diva


Cesaria Evora is first and foremost a mystery. She delights, fascinates and charms. Whatever our color, she is at once our friend, big sister and mother. When she comes to the Antilles, islands of zouk and beats, huge crowds stand in line at the ticket office. Everybody flocks to her concerts, from gros-ka fundamentalists to hardcore biguine-mazurka fans and addicts of rap and ragga: all want to immerse themselves in her melancholy. They take their shares of wrinkles and milk of youth. I have never had a chance to see her. The venues are always sold out. I can only imagine, gaze at her photos, be absorbed by her videos and dream of her tempi full of ancient pain.

In her book devoted to the Cabo-Verdean singer, Véronique Mortaigne makes it clear that a mystery such as hers cannot be solved, but only approached, experienced and revisited. This makes her fine writing and true sensitivity magnificent. She has understood that the secret of Cesaria Evora branches into many seams. Rather than a journey, she has to map erratic wanderings misted by fumes of punch and catchupa, through a geography of shadows, oases and light. Naturally, she has to listen to Cesaria – neither a peasant woman nor a ‘lady of the sea’, but a figure glimpsed in winding streets, bars and stores. She has to hear her delicious conversations with Vitoria, her good friend since childhood; learn the story of her fits of anger and torrent of insults; see her living in Mindelo, her island, town, port and hut, by a sea teeming with the hatreds and loves of those who were both forced to leave and compelled to remain. She sees the people who surround and love Cesaria, and those who support or take advantage of her. She sees her apron with its vast pockets, her plastic hair curlers and her waddling walk as she carries baskets of fish and herbs. She sees what Cesaria eats and learns the recipes, giving their number. She tastes the rum the singer shares freely, that did her so much harm and which the singer has no longer touched “since Christmas ’94”. She also has to understand the Cabo Verde archipelago and its initial catastrophe: Portuguese colonization and slavery. And then its struggle towards freedom and independence, its combats and alienations, its griefs and joys, and its mystery of life and salt in the growing threat of the Sahel.

Cesaria Evora is of that soil in the dryness of the sands. The book is not a biography, but an obscure revelation brimming with earth, life, music, simplicity, friendship, love, questions and lucidity. In its pages, I realize that Cesaria Evora is a Creole land in herself, whose diversity of imagination and people produces a music that connects with everyone, where melody, harmony and multiple rhythms encounter human suffering in a melting pot of blues, jazz and morna. I realize that Cesaria Evora is also a suffering – firstly hers, that of her life, her disastrous love affairs and a destructive intoxication to compensate for the wilting of the buds of hope. That familiar life of extremes ties in with ours in a tangible bond. When she sings, she brings us an entire life, escaping from the sordid bars and the fake gilt of socialite residences – the homes of Cabo Verde dotores who wanted to hear her sing. She also brings us her stationary exile, an irrepressible goal of exile that now lingers in each of us, drifting islands in a world that is a world unto itself. She reveals an incomparable sadness about everything possible. She tells us that happiness is lost but within reach. She speaks of black wounds of absence and silence. She describes the precious loam of memory. She tells of death and oblivion, loyalty and patience, liberty offered over bitter waves that one dares to tread. She tells of an open world of islands that are so accessible, so amenable to cultural fusions and the winds of the earth. She tells of inevitability, joy, hope, rounded strength and sharpened patience. Her feet are bare, her voice is naked, and so is her heart, proffered in a parure of all the graces. Among human beings, Cesaria is a queen.

Article written by Patrick Chamoiseau, published in the newspaper Le Monde for the publication of the biography written by Véronique Mortaigne, shortly after the release of the album “Cabo Verde” in February 1997. 

Patrick Chamoiseau, a French writer from Martinique, was born on December 3, 1953, in Fort-de-France. Author of novels, short stories and essays, he is a theoretician of Creole culture and also writes for the theater and cinema.


La Diva Aux Pieds Nus – 1988

Distino Di Belita – 1990

Mar Azul – 1991

Miss Perfumado – 1992

Cesaria – 1995

Cabo Verde – 1997

Cesaria Best Of – 1997

Café Atlantico – 1999

Sao Vicente di Longe – 2001

Mornas & Coladeras (Compilation) – 2002

Voz d’Amor – 2003

Club Sodade (Remix Album) – 2003

Rogamar – 2006

Radio Mindelo – 2008

Nha Sentimento – 2009

Cesaria Evora & – 2010

Miss Perfumado (20th anniversary) – 2012

Mae Carinhosa – 2013

Greatest Hits – 2015

Carnaval de Mindelo (EP) – 2018

Nha Cancera Ka Tem Medida (Djeff Remix) – 2018

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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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