One of the biggest festivals celebrating African music in the UK, Africa Oyé, has unveiled the first three acts to headline this year's event, which returns to Sefton Park in Liverpool on 18 and 19 June.
Up-and-coming Tanzanian rumba group, Ifa Band, DR Congo’s genre-bending Mbongwana Star and Ghanaian highlife legend Pat Thomas and Kwashibu Area Band are the first three acts announced to perform at the popular festival.
Ifa Band, with their close harmonies and disheveled elegance, blend rumba and Bongo Flava with muziki wa dansi in a fresh and exciting fashion. Founded by blind guitarist Jafari Rashid Igomba, the hard-working group have gone from busking their away across Tanzania to now playing at the UK's largest free festival of African music and culture. They will surely make their set one to remember.
Mbongwana Star includes former members of popular Congolese band Staff Benda Bilili. Shedding any preconceptions of African music that an audience may have, they perform a mix of electro-rock, soukous and everything in between.
Hailed as 'the Golden Voice of Africa', Pat Thomas's music updates the sounds of highlife and Afrobeat that arose during the 1970s in West Africa. He will perform at Oyé in conjunction with the Kwashibu Area Band, led by multi-instrumentalist Kwame Yeboah and saxophonist Ben Abarbanel-Wolff. The performance follows their first international release in 2015.
Now in its 24th year, Africa Oyé attracted record crowds of around 80 000 last year to the free, two-day, family-friendly event. Kenyan Band Sarabi were among the artists that performed at the 2015 festival.
The festival's artistic director, Paul Duhaney, said of this year’s selection: "We had a record amount of applications to play the festival this year and it was a real challenge to whittle it down to the final line-up. These three are just the beginning of an exciting 2016 programme and I can't wait to reveal the rest!"