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Three African Songs to Listen to on Bandcamp in May

Three fresh releases that combine African styles and world culture.

Charlotte Kohlberg



“Mama Africa” by Uprising Youth

Uprising Youth has a particularly interesting mission statement: “A musical collaboration led by young musicians from around the world who advocate for intercultural dialogue, community building, and political resistance through global music.”

This single from their debut album, One Humanity, speaks to the reason the group formed by uniting musicians from different cultures and backgrounds and exemplifying the beauty of multi-cultural collaboration.

The record was been recorded in recording studios around the world; Sicily, Tunisia, Tunis, Syracuse, and North Carolina. It shares stories of crossing both physical and cultural boundaries. A true celebration of coming together to make upbeat and amazing music.

“Vina Vina Malawi” by Madalitso Band

This duo from Malawi comes from humble beginnings. They were discovered by a local producer when busking outside a shopping center in Lilongwe in 2009. Since then, Madalitso Band has been featured on BBC Africa and performed around the world at festivals, most notably the Roskilde in Denmark.

“Thandizo” is filled with impressive guitar riffs, made with a four-string guitar and a home-made one-string slide bass, known locally as Babatone. The rhythm is contagiously foot-stomping with a cow-skin drum and their raw and undiluted voices.

Their newest album was released in March 2019 and recorded in Geneva for Bongo Joe Records, who fell in love with the band’s ethos: “so what that we can’t afford instruments, we’ll build our own.” This song is full of joy and grit, an anthem that will be sure to brighten your day.

“Johannesburg” by Africa Express Gruff Rhys, Morena Leraba, Radio 123, Sibot)

Hailed as “the most revolutionary force in popular music for two decades,” Africa Express unites musicians from different cultures, generations, backgrounds (and even genres) to break boundaries and offer a new perspective in African music.

With influences of jazz, funk and electronic music, “Johannesburg” is multi-layered with melodious singing and hip-hop background lyrics in multiple languages. It’s a calming and meditative track that appeals to all the different styles in music from all over the world. 

If you obsess over singers and bands, and are one of those people who make a playlist for every occasion, join CMN’s Music Journalism Course and get real-time experience, intense feedback on your writing, exposure to music industry insiders, and a great place to display build your portfolio. Get all the details on the Music Journalism Course here.

Charlotte is a recent Graduate in Art History from New York University. After working at a publishing company, she realized her affinity for writing when she had to write weekly newsletters on authors and podcasts. She started her journalism career contributing for online media and entertainment source, The Knockturnal. Currently living in New York City, Charlotte enjoys going to concerts and art museums, and mixing cocktails for her friends.

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