Birahim’s career began in 2004, at the age of 20, when he and friend Eumeu Kayré formed the duo Black Light. Their reggae dancehall-tinged single, “Africa Unity,” released in 2005, grabbed attention for its originality and positive message. Compelled by a passion for reggae music, he joined the group Akiboulan in 2006 and then Timshel Band in 2008. During this phase he recorded the hit song “Sa Rimbam” (Jololi, 2007) with Pape Daly and Babacar Seck. A seamless fusion of reggae with mbalax, the song brought Birahim into the sights of the general public and earned him an invitation to open for Jamaican stars Richie Spice and Ademan when they performed in Dakar in 2008.Having achieved some recognition as a reggae artist, Birahim made the decision to return to his own roots and focus on the Senegalese popular genre of mbalax. That same year he joined the chorus of Senegalese star Titi, and in 2012 began singing with Aïda Samb. After collaborating with some of Senegal’s greatest popular artists, he was encouraged to strike out on his own. “Now it’s time to make a commitment to myself,” he declared. His debut album, From Medina (Prince Arts label), hit the stores in May, 2014 and immediately became a runaway hit throughout Senegal. Featuring 9 tracks, the album confirms his extraordinary talent and broad range of musical knowledge. At 30 years of age he is the youngest artist on the Prince Arts roster, yet his objectives are mature and well-conceived. “To succeed in this environment, you have to have several strings on your bow,” he explains. “It’s an asset to have an open mind and sing in different styles. I think when we sing in the same style all the time it becomes monotonous.” Beyond this, Birahim wants his music to be international. “If you go outside [the country] you rarely see Senegalese play and attract people, there are few Senegalese artists participating in festivals abroad, and this is not normal. It requires research and creating other sounds,” he says. As the album’s title suggests, he pays homageto his ativedistrict. For him, beyond demonstrating his commitment to the area, the album is also a way to show the potential of young people of Medina. “Medina is a popular area. People think that those who live in these neighborhoods do not have the intelligence to stand on their own. This is to show them that there are young people who have talent and are able to do important things,” says Birahim. His songs address various social topics such as religion (a tribute to the prophet Muhammad), love, and the role and value of women in society. “My music is not just for fun. My music is also a way to convey messages. I want my music to be an example to generations. That is why I treasure the meaning and value of words,” he says. He speaks openly against celebrities who mistreat women, stating: “We who are famous do not have to take advantage of their weakness or vulnerability to abuse them. We all have sisters or female relatives and this should motivate us not to use women and then discard them like old socks.” In creating this album, Birahim collaborated with such musical greats as Bakane Seck, Yatma Thiam and Babacar Seck, with production by Ibou Ndour. Birahim is currently focused on promoting the album, with an international tour in the near future.
Born in Senegal to a Gewel griot family, singer and percussionist SIDY SAMB is the son of Daro Mbaye, one of the first women singers in the popular mbalax genre and from whom he learned the foundations of technique and composition. On a visit to Seville, Spain for the 1992 World Expo, he discovered a passion for flamenco music and decided to make his home there. He quickly found his way into the music scene and became a founding member of Mártires del Compás (Martyrs of the Compass), a seminal “nuevo flamenco” band, that same year.Read More
Bidew Bou Bess
BIDEEW BOU BESS (“New Star” in the Wolof language) is a performing group of three brothers: Moctar, Baïdy and Ibrahima Sall. The trio is recognized throughout Senegal for their innovative mix of musical genres and languages, as well as for their attention and commitment to important social issues at home and abroad. Natives of Podor, the brothers relocated to Senegal’s capital city, Dakar, where as young hip-hoppers they began performing in 1994. After winning a contest organized by the Ministry of Education in 1996, they caught the attention of Senegalese cultural icon Youssou Ndour.Read More
MAIMOUNATA (“Maï”) LINGANI is one of the most popular singers and songwriters of Burkina Faso, West Africa. She currently divides her time between New York City and Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso. Maï was born in Koudougou, Burkina Faso (formerly Upper Volta), grew up in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, and started singing professionally during her late teens. In the mid-1990s, she won several prizes with bands playing styles ranging from reggae to the traditional musics of various Ivoirian ethnicities, and toured nationally. In 1996, she met the musicians Lukas Ligeti (of Austria, now residing in the U.S.) and Kurt Dahlke (of Germany)and participated in the recording of their group Beta Foly’s critically acclaimed CD, her first international release (“Lukas Ligeti & Beta Foly”, Intuition Records, Germany, 1997).Read More
Ndongo Bahoum Diop was born in Ziguinchor, which is the richest cultural city in Senegal, in July 1964. His nickname is Lucky. He belong to the Diola (jola) tribe, one the rare tribes where everybody is a musician! His father’s position in the justice department gave him the great opportunity to learn about the dynamic music of the Toucouleur and the Wolof tribe at his early age. At the age of 10, Lucky was already performing for his classmates. In high school, he was among the first students to join the music band which won several competitions nationwide. During his last two years in high school, he collaborated with Solo Cissokho, a prominent kora player in Senegal. Lucky spiced up his compositions with sabar, bougarabou, seyrouba and djembe rhythms. As Solo’s repertoire became more diverse, they both gained more fans.Read More