Fela Kuti

(Abeokuta, 15/10/1938 – Lagos, 02/08/1997)

He was born in Nigeria, the son of a feminist active in the anticolonial movement and a Protestant pastor. He studied music in London at Trinity College of Music. The singer was one of the forerunners of Afrobeat, a blend of jazz, funk, highlife and traditional African chants. His songs never came to prominence outside of Africa, especially for being long – about 10 to 30 minutes – as well as refusing to play the same song again after having recorded it. Besides being a singer, Fela also played the role of political activist and was a defender of human rights.

Song: Army Arrangement

Angelique Kidjo

(Cotonou, 14/06/1960)

Singer born in the village of Ouidah, located on the Atlantic coast of the Republic of Benin. She has 10 albums and several jingles in her career, among them Gimme Shelter from the album DjinDjin, which earned her a Grammy Award for “Best Contemporary World Music Album” in 2008. In 2010 she released a new album, Õÿö, with inspirations in Soul and samba, one of her tracks was chosen for the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa celebrations, with Angélique invited by the organization to perform at the opening show alongside personalities and groups such as Shakira, Alicia Keys, John Legend and Black Eyed Peas. In addition to her important role in music, the singer has been involved in issues related to philanthropy, being since 2002 ambassador of UNICEF and since 2009 has carried out campaigns for the “Women’s Rights in Africa”.

Song: Malaika

Baba Maal

(Podor, 12/11/1953)

Singer and guitarist born in Senegal. Son of a fisherman, he decided to dedicate himself to the music under the influence of a friend of the family, the blind guitarist Mansour Seck. Later, he studied music at the University of Dakar before leaving for post-graduation with a scholarship at Beaux-Arts in Paris. Known in Africa and internationally, he is probably the most famous Senegalese musician after YoussouN’Dour. In addition to guitar, he also plays percussion. He has released several albums for both major and independent record companies. In July 2003, he was appointed UNDP youth emissary. Baba sings mainly in the Pulaar language and is the most important promoter of the traditions of the Pulaar-speaking people, who live on both sides of the Senegal River, in the old Senegalese kingdom of FutaTooro.

Song: Yela

Amadou e Mariam

(Bamako, 24/10/1954  e  15/04/1958)

Duo of Mali composed by AmadouBagayoko (1954), guitar and vocal and Mariam Doumbia (1958), vocals. The couple known as “The Blind Couple of Mali” met at the Mali Institute for blind youths, where both were members of the Institute Orchestra. Amadou lost her sight at age 16, since Mariam has been blind since age 5 as a result of untreated rubella.

The duo began in the 1980s after marrying and producing a series of songs and moving to Ivory Coast in 1986, becoming famous in their homeland, at which point they met Stevie Wonder. Their music underwent modifications throughout their career: in the 80’s and 90’s, they presented arrangements of guitar and voice, already in the 90’s, incorporate to the traditional sound of Mali, rock guitars, Syrian violins, Cuban trumpets, and instruments Egyptians and Indians, its sound being characterized as an Afro-blues.

Song: Sénégal Fast Food

Youssou N’Dour

(Dakar, 01/10/1959)

Singer, percussionist, composer, actor, entrepreneur and Senegalese politician, born in 1959. His career began in 1979 in the ensemble “Étoile de Dakar” reaching a great success all over Africa and already in 1991 he opened his own label. The style that made him one of the best-known African singers in all of history is a mix of rumba, hip-hop, jazz and soul. The magazine “Folk Roots” describes him as the African artist of the century, being in 2005 contemplated with a Grammy Award. His acting as an ambassador emerges as the ambassador of UNICEF and the International Labor Organization, as well as organizing various concerts for the benefit of Amnesty International. During the year 2012 N’Dour acted as Minister of Tourism and Culture of Senegal.

Song: Seven Seconds