Zaiko Langa Langa and dj.henri at (le) poisson rouge, in partnership with Radio Africa Online
Zaiko Langa Langa
At long last, Zaiko Langa Langa has arrived in the United States!
This great Congolese band has often been rumored to be coming, but this time it really is happening. Zaiko is already in this country and has performed to thrilled audiences in Los Angeles, Dallas, Houston and Washington. It will appear at the popular New York City club Le Poisson Rouge on Tuesday, November 27th.
And it’s the real Zaiko Langa Langa, not an offshoot of an offshoot or a bunch of pretenders. This is the band led by Jossart N’Yoka Longo, a key member, singer and songwriter since the late 1960s and its leader for more than 30 years.
Originally formed by students in Kinshasa, this group soon distinguished itself from the famous Congolese bands of the time – Franco and his OK Jazz, Rochereau and his Afrisa International, and Docteur Nico and his African Fiesta Sukisa. Those musicians had been prominent for a decade or two, and although the Zaiko kids had grown up listening to their many hits and admiring their gifts, these teenagers and young adults (who included Papa Wemba, Bimi Ombale, Evoloko Jocker and Manuaku Waku as well as N’Yoka Longo and others) were in the vanguard of a new generation, determined to reinvigorate the popular music of their country with their youthful sound and energy.
They replaced conga drums and maracas with trap sets and drove their beats hard and tirelessly on snare drums. They dispensed with the saxophones and trumpets of the older bands and turned up the volume on their electric guitars. In front they featured four singers who took turns with leads and harmonies and calls and responses, plus animateurs who shouted greetings and slogans from the stage. When the song shifted into the instrumental section called soukous the singers and animateurs danced. Of course Congolese pop singers had moved their feet and swayed their hips before Zaiko Langa Langa appeared, but not with the fresh style and choreography of these talented showmen. The dances they invented, such as cavacha and zékété-zékété, quickly became popular in Kinshasa and then throughout Central Africa.
Zaiko Langa Langa traveled too, and beyond Central Africa to East Africa, West Africa, and eventually Europe. The band’s most successful album of the 1980s was Live in Japan. By that time several of the original members had left to form new bands while newcomers such as Bozi Boziana, Malage de Lugendo and Dindo Yogo joined. Over the years Zaiko Langa Langa parented so many bands – Isifi Lokole, Grand Zaiko Wawa, Langa Langa Stars, Choc Stars, Anti-Choc, Viva la Musica, Familia Dei and Nkolo Mboka (to name only the most famous) – that fans referred to them collectively as Clan Langa Langa.
But it is the patriarch that has finally come to the U.S. It’s taken a long time to get this far. Don’t miss it! Who knows when the next time will be?
Eto’o Tsana and Mabina Danseuses
Eto’o Tsana is a New York City Harlem native Afro-Puerto Rican choreographer, dancer, singer, and dance educator. She graduated from Queens College Summa Cum Laude with a bachelor’s degree in Drama, Theater, and Dance, and attended New York University for her Master of Arts in Dance History.
Since 2008, Eto’o Tsana has traveled extensively throughout the United States, the Caribbean, Canada, France, the Republic of Congo, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, collaborating, teaching, and performing professionally with renowned African artists. After spending several years traveling to the Congo she was inspired to take her performance arts career to different heights. With the collaboration of Ngouma Lokito (internationally renowned Congolese recording artist) she debuts her first single “Tobina.”
Mabina Danseuses is a New York City-based dance orchestra cultivated by founder and Artistic Director Eto’o Tsana. Founded in 2011 on the principles of Cultural Performance, Humanitarianism, and Anthropology, Eto’o Tsana & Mabina Danseuses is a direct reflection of Ms. Tsana’s deep-rooted Africana studies, travel experiences, diverse dance training, and her multicultural origins.
Eto’o Tsana & Mabina Danseuses have also traveled internationally performing with renowned artistes, in addition to creating and presenting original works that challenge the complexities of ‘Our Being’ as displaced children of the Motherland. It is through their individual and collective histories, self-explorations, studies, intellectual and cultural exchanges that makes Eto’o Tsana & Mabina Danseuses a premier act.
Sekouba Diakite is an Ivorian reggae musician. In the tradition of rootsy reggae from the 70s, Sekouba combines an eclectic mix of traditional West African rhythms known as Bolomba, using djembe drums and balafons. His potent lyrics, heavy ideas, and delicate voice are laced in his music in six different languages: Mandingo, French, English, Malinke, Bambara, and Dioula. He humbly has graced stages around the globe with generous performances, including Israel, Germany, Switzerland, Mali, Senegal, Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire.
After being enriched into the roots of the Bolomba style in The Gambia, the young Sekouba came alive with the West African sounds of the Mandinka. Sekouba’s desire to sing came naturally but it was never a reality without the musical influence of his brother, Ismael Isaac. Sekouba’s other musical influences include, Lucky Dube, Alpha Blondy, and Bob Marley.
Sekouba’s uplifting and heartening lyrics enliven audiences with spiritual liberation and African consciousness. His debut album “I’m So Glad” was self-produced in New York and arranged by Oscar Ankou. Sekouba’s sophomore album in 2010 “Sejo” was co-produced by Sidney Mills, Grammy award-winning reggae artist and keyboard player for the legendary band Steel Pulse. The album includes outstanding, liberal tracks like “Mandela,” featuring Bob Marley’s guitarist Junior Marvin from The Wailers. “Mandela” is a sharp and arousing tribute to former President of South Africa Nelson Mandela, and has been well-received by international fans.
Sekouba and his band Bolumba Stylee have decorated the nation with groovy, soulful performances at venues and festivals such as Fête de la Musique in Mali; SummerStage in New York City, alongside Israeli artist Idan Raichel; NJPAC SummerStage; New Haven Music Festival; Brooklyn’s International African Arts Festival; S.O.B.’s; Shrine World Music Venue; and many more. Sekouba’s music is inspired by a conglomerate of modern-day music, and the ancestral dialogue passed down to him as a descendant of a long line of griots. In one show, Sekouba’s listeners share in a universal experience.
Sekouba is the youngest brother of Isaac Ismael, the lead singer in Ivory Coast’s best-known musical group. He currently lives in New York City and is the Senior Artistic Director for the Go Africa Network.
Lubangi Muniania (Emcee)
Lubangi Muniania is an Art Educator, specialized in the visual and performing arts of Africa. He has worked as a Director of Education at the Museum for African Art in New York, African Art Education consultant for the Art Institute of Chicago, Saint Louis Museum of Arts, other museums, festivals, and cultural centers.
He has written articles for newspapers, essays for museum publications and universities. Lubangi Muniania is currently the president of Tabilulu Productions. He has also produced live concerts for prominent African performers such as Koffi Olomide, Kanda Bongo Man, Lucky Dube, Lokwa Kanza, Awilo Longomba, Soukous Stars, Shiko Mawatu and many more.
He also produced documentaries and educational events for Harvard University, Yale University, Columbia University, City College of New York, United Nations, Africa-America Institute, Session at West 54 for Sony, Africa One for AT&T, African Portrait for NBC, Memories of Lumumba for the Museum for African Art, radio programs and a documentary on Democratic Republic of Congo for Bill Moyers Journal at PBS.
dj.henri is the creator of Radio Africa Online, the longest-running African all-music station online. But it’s little known that the station had its humble beginnings as Soukous Radio – dedicating its entire 24/7 schedule to spinning more than a thousand tracks of Congolese Soukous, some of them very rare. At dance parties, it’s those guitar-centric Soukous tracks which always form the backbone to a nonstop driving beat for dj.henri. He’s had the privilege to see many Soukous legends like Kanda Bongo Man, Soukous Stars, and Les 4 Etoiles in concert, and opened the show for master Soukous guitarist Diblo Dibala when he came to New York. dj.henri spins African sounds at venues including the Apollo Theater, B.B. King’s, Symphony Space, Joe’s Pub, and elsewhere. He’s been booked to open for World Music legends like Salif Keita, Femi Kuti, Tinariwen, Vieux Farka Toure, and many others. Beyond the radio station, his popular Radio Africa Online Mixes podcast is featured in the iTunes Store and elsewhere, generating 50 Terabytes of traffic annually.