Johannesburg’s Soweto district is gearing itself up to what could be the biggest African spiced World Cup opening ever on June 10th at South Africa’s Orlando stadium. Performing at the event will be two groups:
An international ensemble led by the Black Eyed Peas, Alicia Keys, Shakira and John Legend.
The African contingent includes Benin’s Angelique Kidjo, Mali’s Vieux Farka Toure and the Tuareg rockers Tinariwen, Mahlasela, Parlotones and BLK JKS.
Time for Africa, by Shakira and Freshlyground is the 2010 official anthem
Angelique Kidjo, the Benin born, afropop, afrobeat and reggae musician is a Grammy award winning musician. She is Africa’s most celebrated female musician and enjoys the same stature as Miriam Makeba did. She has collaborated with Alicia Keys, Peter Gabriel, Carlos Santana and a few others. Angelique, who is a UNICEF Goodwill ambassador, runs a foundation called Batonga which promotes education for girls.
Tinariwen is undeniably one of the most unique bands in the world, with a story as compelling as any. The band is made up of Touareg or Kel Tamashek people from the Sahara. The rather remarkable turbans and robes, rebel insignia and the unusual, if not bizarre mix of a “traditional” people playing rock n roll ensured their immediate success internationally. Tinariwen has played over 700 concerts in North America, Japan and Europe to date. WOMAD, Glastonbury and other international venues are familiar territories to them.
They describe their music as “assouf” which means “blues, loneliness, heartache, homesickness, the darkness beyond the campfire”. The founding members of Tinariwen were rebels who fought against the creation of Post Colonial Mali (centrally controlled government) which they saw as an affront to their nomadic “nationless” and “borderless” way of life.
The Tinariwens are reputed to be the best selling African group in the world to date with countless awards to their name and a huge and loyal fan base.
Vusi Mahlasela,is a singer-songwriter, poet and a consummate guitarist who took up music at an early age.
His sound is described as a “hybrid of folk, world, blues and soul, one that connects South Africa’s apartheid-scarred past with its promise for a better future”
Vusi performed at Nelson Mandela’s inauguration ceremony in 1994 and has since worked closely with Mandela’s 46664 Foundation to raise awareness of Aids/HIV.
The South African, rock band, the Parlotones last album “A world next door to yours” is the highest selling Rock album in South Africa in the last decade.
The Parlotones are particularly adept at producing quirky videos and are probably the only bonafide rock band that has their own acclaimed brand of wine called “Giant Mistake” found in most reputable wine retail stores across Europe.
As they said recently in an interview “We’ve always had the attitude to just do anything, because everything counts. We’ve done it all; from having kids throwing water bombs at us, to waxing each others legs on national television and eating tripe in Soweto. And it really does all count; soon the whole country knows who you are. (Well not ‘soon’, rather ‘eventually.’)”
BLK JKS (pronounced Black Jacks) is a South African head nodding Afro rock Band made up of childhood friends from East Rand, Johannesburg. Their psychedelic style has been described as the “the sound of a new South Africa” and “an example of the post-apartheid nation’s new cultural momentum and frontier-breaking sensibility”.
Their lineup includes Linda Buthelezi (lead vocals), Mpumi Mcata (guitar), Molefi Makananise (bass) and Tshepang Ramoba (drums).
Amadou and Mariam met at Mali’s Institute for the Young Blind where their music journey began. Their music can be best described as Afro blues-rock, pop and funk. Their use of Syrian Violins, Indian tablas and Cuban trumpets is somewhat unique, especially, when combined with soulful rhythms in English or French
The best way to describe Viex Farka Touré’s music is one that blends contemporary and diasporean African music forms with ancient Malian music..He seamlessly blends traditional musical instruments with more modern intruments, to produce funky, reggae like sounds.He is an accomplished guitar player with a talent for putting together remarkable sequences.
His music brings together “the African Diaspora from both sides of the Atlantic with a reggae rhythm, syncopated guitar, heavily riverbed percussion and great vocals”
The Black Eyed Peas have sold an estimated 25 million albums worldwide and have won numerous awards. Some of their major hits include Where Is the Love?, Shut Up, My Humps and Don’t Phunk With My Heart.
Shakira, the musical prodigy from Colombia, has now won 2 Grammy awards and no less than 7 Latin Grammy awards. She also performed at President Obama’s inauguration ceremony at America’s Lincoln Memorial.
John Legend is the recipient of the Special Starlight award from the Songwriters Hall of Fame and winner of 6 Grammy awards. He runs the “show me campaign” aimed at developmental efforts in a Ghanaian village called Bossaso.
Alicia Keys’ 2001 album Songs in A Minor alone earned her 5 Grammy Awards and her second album Diary of Alicia Keys earned her an additional 4 Grammy awards. She has sold over 30 million albums so far in her short career.