The legendary Senegalese percussion maestro Doudou Ndiaye Rose was every bit as much a poet as a musician. An unrivalled virtuoso when it came to drumming techniques, Rose possessed an encyclopedic knowledge of music and appeared to be able to transcribe just about everything he saw, heard and felt into rhythm. Rose, once dubbed “the Jimi Hendrix of the drumskin”, will be remembered as one of the greatest African musicians of the 20th century. This revered and respected percussionist certainly earned his official title of "Chief Drum Major of Senegal."
The call of the groove was so strong and persistent that Sia Tolno finally listened to it. On her fourth album, African Woman, put together with afrobeat veteran Tony Allen, the Guinean winner of RFI’s Prix Découverte 2011 dares to tackle a male musical stronghold.
Despite being imbued with the influence of current events and their tragic character, Now, the fifth album by the Central African musician Bibi Tanga, is not just a work of circumstance. Nor is it a simple afro-funk album. Beyond words and labels, the Banui-born singer-bass player who now lives in France succeeds in channelling and distilling his influences.
Up until now, Mamani Keita’s studio work had always involved an Afro-electro twosome that had almost become her trademark. But for her fourth album, Kanou, the Malian singer has taken the driver’s seat and set off in an acoustic direction.
Re-releasing old tunes has been all the rage over the last few years, but the compilation Haïti Direct is the first big project to focus on digging out the groups behind compas music. This zappy 135-minute digest comprises 30 songs dating from 1960 to 1978.
Hailing from the north of Mali, and imbued with the Songhai culture dear to Ali Farka Touré, the singer Aminata Wassidjé Traoré has made a name for herself on the local music scene while attracting the attention of some enlightened foreigners. Her first album Tamala has in fact just been released on the international market.
The death of Nelson Mandela has plunged even the music world into mourning. The South African figurehead was one of the rare personalities to have rallied artists the world over in the name of a cause following his long political imprisonment during apartheid.
As winner of this year’s RFI Discoveries Award with a first solo album entitled AfrikanKouleurs, the Burkinabe Smarty has emerged as a key figure in African rap after ten years performing in the duo Yeleen.
To mark the twenty-fifth anniversary of their group made up of two families, the Gipsy Kings have released a new album entitled Savor Flamenco, offering a familiar energetic cocktail of guitar work and vocals.
The upshot of such a hard-hitting impact is a strong reaction: with both its values and finances reeling from the blow, the Malian music scene is attempting to make its own response to the crisis undermining a country once viewed as a cultural flagship on the African continent.
Angélique Kidjo is one of the world’s great voices. The artist with Beninese roots has rubbed shoulders with some of the greats, like Aretha Franklin, Desmond Tutu, Alicia Key, and Obama at his inauguration as President. Her travels for UNICEF, supporting women, inspired her new album, Eve, recorded in Africa and New York with a bunch of unknowns and an eclectic guest list: Asa, Dr.