Yemi Alade: A Mama Africa for the Millennial Generation

August 11, 2017 § Leave a comment

Yemi Alade put on a party of a show at the Howard Theatre in Washington, DC

Fans had started screaming for Nigeria’s music superstar Yemi Alade long before she came onstage at the Howard Theatre in Washington, DC, as they endured an extra-long opening set with a multitude of dancers, rappers and singers. When she finally burst onto the stage with her dancers, electrifying the crowd with two of her hit songs “Tangerine” and “Tumbum,” one could not help but conclude that we were witnessing the evolution of a bonafide African music legend. No matter who’s top of the bill, you can always expect a party when an African musician puts on a concert, and Yemi Alade did not disappoint. She engaged the crowd in raucous call and response chants to her songs, and invited several guests onto the stage to participate in a mini dance-off. The 28-year-old singer and songwriter describes her music as “afropolitan,” or “Afro-highlife, a meld of Afrobeat, R&B, pop, and highlife.” Before her DC show, Yemi Alade sat down with « Read the rest of this entry »

A Bunny Mack Retrospective: Sierra Leone’s Music Icon

July 15, 2015 § 2 Comments

"Let Me Love You" single cover

“Let Me Love You” single cover

Let’s just be honest: “Let Me Love You (My Sweetie)” by Bunny Mack has one of the funkiest bass lines ever laid down on a dance track. Composed by Bunny Mack (producer Akie Deen shares writing credits on the song as well), it was a continuation of a style of music he had developed with Deen, where he fused disco with calypso, African and funk grooves. “Let Me Love You (My Sweetie)” became one of the biggest African releases; it made the British pop charts in early 1980, reaching Number 76, and cracked the top 10 dance chart there, where it stayed for about 4 weeks. With its slamming bass line and infectious chorus, the melodic tune became a dance classic throughout the African diaspora, generating in the process a certain confusion about who sang it and which country it originated from. Play it for virtually anyone from the African diaspora, and the odds are that they have either partied to it, or played it themselves if they are DJs. When an African American friend asked me excitedly a few years back if I had heard “this new African song” as she put it, and sang “Let Me Love You,” I had to patiently inform her it’s old, but it’s a classic, and that’s why it seems new.

Bunny Mack with Akie Deen (Photo credit:Sewa News)

Bunny Mack with Sierra Leonean music producer Akie Deen

It has been a few decades now, but I do remember well when Bunny Mack was interviewed by a radio show host back in either late ’79 or early ’80s Sierra Leone. This was fascinating to me because I had never really considered Sierra Leone music in terms of solo artists. We had a bunch of semi-successful bands with decent hits, like Afro National, Sabanoh 75 and Supercombo, and each had solid musicians that were very talented in their own right. But the last really « Read the rest of this entry »

Jimmy Cliff, Youssou N’Dour to Headline ECOWAS Peace Pageant

November 13, 2010 § 1 Comment

Jimmy Cliff

It’s official (at the last minute, as it can often be in Sierra Leone): Jimmy Cliff has already arrived at Freetown’s Lungi Airport for the 2010 ECOWAS Peace Pageant, where he is scheduled to perform in just a few hours. Senegalese star Youssou N’Dour was already confirmed, but only rumors surrounded whether Jimmy Cliff would actually be brought over. Thirty beauties from the 15 ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States) nations will compete for the honor of becoming the Peace Ambassador for the sub-region. It promises to be an exciting night showcasing the best of West African fashion, art and music. For more information on the pageant, you can visit their website. Afrofusion Lounge will keep you updated on results! Photo Courtesy Aram Kilimli. Bless… 

“Felabration!” Birthday Celebration for Fela in DC

November 2, 2010 § 2 Comments

Something to check out if you: 1. Live in the DC area, 2. Love Afrobeat music and, 3. Have always wanted to get your face painted: “Afrobeat 4 ya Soul,” presented by Lunchbox Theory every month! Last week, in honor of Nigerian Afrobeat superstar Fela Kuti‘s October birthday, it was a “Felabration” at Bossa Bistro in Adams Morgan. (I’m still mad I missed September’s event, because Ghanaian hip hop star Blitz the Ambassador reportedly rocked the joint at Liv Nightclub at 11th and U Street!)
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Interview: Gyptian Wants to Work with African Artists

October 13, 2010 § 3 Comments

 

Gyptian performing at Crossroads Nightclub

 

I promised to bring you snippets of Afrofusion TV’s interview with Gyptian… Voila! check it out below! It’s a fairly common “problem” with music artists. You record a song, and fans think someone else sang it. For African and West Indian artists, the cross-pollination in music styles and genres makes the occurrence more frequent, and even less surprising. So for Nigerian singer Tuface Idibia, his worldwide hit “African Queen” got attributed by many a fan to Jamaican reggae star Gyptian!

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The Live Sound of Shabaka

September 28, 2010 § 1 Comment

Shabaka performing with his band

Surely one of the top dance floor fillers of the 1980s, Freddy Cole Shabaka’s “Dem Nor Wan Dance” was deliriously delivered live by this celebrated Sierra Leonean artist for the first time in years last Saturday. The event was a pageant for Ms. Sierra Leone USA 2010, now held biennially, in Silver Spring, Maryland. Shabaka’s music has always had that rootsy consciousness, and the newer songs he performed that night left no doubt that his art and heart still share the same space.
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Rage Against the Nigerian Machine

September 18, 2010 § Leave a comment

There was a moment of silence held in his memory at the Crossroads Nightclub in Maryland, I remember, on the day it was announced that Fela had passed away. I remembered all I had heard about his struggles with the Nigerian Government, his imprisonment, the music, and of course, the revolutionary lyrics.

Zombie Album Cover

His song “Zombie” (1976) makes a mockery of the Nigerian military and police. Fela’s volatile relationship with the Nigerian authorities came to a head in 1977 when his Kalakuta Republic was stormed by soldiers and burned to the ground. Fela’s mother was thrown from a window by soldiers and she went into coma from which she never recovered, dying about eight weeks later. (His song “Sorrow, Tears and Blood” is about that horrendous experience.) Many thought the music he pioneered – Afrobeat – would fade out. Well, Afrobeat lovers, rejoice! Brand new reissues of Fela’s music have been released this past week by Knitting Factory Records. They have announced a Digital Package with immediate downloads of 11 of his releases between 1976 and 1980. Called the Zombie Batch, it is the third reissue so far of their periodic releases of the Nigerian musician’s work. I found this out on Boing Boing, (with Alt Sounds and Lime Wire Blog also reporting it) and the blog includes a free download of the classic Fela hit after which the reissue is named – Zombie. You can check out the Fela page on Knitting Factory Records here to buy the digital downloads. There is also a CD + Digital Download Package, and a Deluxe Package. Titles on the set include the aforementioned “Zombie,” “Sorrow Tears and Blood,” “Music of Many Colors” (with Roy Ayers), and “Shuffering and Shmiling.” The next group of reissues are scheduled for later this year. Bless…

Refugee Mash Up

September 11, 2010 § Leave a comment

I haven’t met that many celebrities that are singers/recording artists, but I can say for certain that I’ve never met a more down-to-earth group of artists like the Sierra Leone Refugee All Stars. To promote their new album (CD, I guess, if you were born after the ’80s) Rise & Shine, they have embarked on a multi-city US tour, which brought them back to DC and the Zanzibar Nightclub on Friday 10th September. Maybe it’s because they are so in love with what they do, but they spare little time to reflect on their international status as one of Africa’s premier musical ambassadors. “How do you know my name?” Reuben Koroma, the lead songwriter, asked me this in genuine surprise when I dropped in on their sound check session. Maturity might have something to do with it, too. Black Nature is the youngest member of that group (and probably the only one with two earrings), but he comes off as grounded and dedicated to his craft as his older band mates. They put a heavy emphasis on playing live instruments, something many artists from Sierra Leone are just not doing. And that’s why they sounded so good later on that night as they got down to serious jamming, a session which included songs from their previous album like Soda Soap and Living Like a Refugee. You can find more photos from that night on the gallery page. And, of course, AFROfusion TV will bring you a preview clip from the show – coming soon! Bless….

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