The influence of African culture is a global phenomenon, nowhere more evident than in music. Africa Now!, an annual concert in the USA, will on Saturday 26 March celebrate the best of today's African music scene.
Four of Africa’s most exciting young acts have been invited to perform at the world famous Apollo Theater in New York City for the fourth edition of Africa Now! The concert will feature Bombino (Niger), Mokoomba (Zimbabwe), Alsarah & The Nubatones (Sudan) and Jojo Abot (Ghana) – all artists who have drawn from their African roots for inspiration and transplanted them onto the global music landscape.
The legendary Apollo Theater, considered by many to be ‘the soul’ of African American culture, plays a vital role in cultivating emerging talents and launching legends. Since its founding, the Apollo has served as a center of innovation and a creative catalyst for Harlem, the city of New York, and the world. This year’s Africa Now! concert is hosted in partnership with World Music Institute.
Bombino, born and raised in Niger’s northern city of Agadez, is a member of the Tuareg Ifoghas tribe, a nomadic people descended from the Berbers of North Africa. His dazzling live performance and virtuosity on the guitar have led notable music critics to compare him to Jimi Hendrix and Carlos Santana. His 2013 album Nomad debuted at number one on the Billboard World Music album chart and earned rave reviews. His fifth album Azel, collaboration with Dirty Projector producer Dave Longstreth, will be released on 1 April 2016.
The six-piece band Mokoomba combines traditional and modern instruments with a rich blend of rhythms to create a distinctive, vibrant sound consisting of not only traditional Tonga music but embracing the diverse cultures of southern Africa. Mokoomba made a big impression with their debut tour of North America in 2014 and are thrilled to be returning to the US and Canada in March and April 2016 with brand new material from their upcoming album, Luyando. After their upcoming performance at the Apollo. they will perform more gigs in the following two weeks, including in Montreal, Canada on 3 April, Washington DC on 6 April and ending at the Savannah Music Festival in Georgia on 8 April.
Mokoomba's manager Marcus Gora told Music In Africa: "The band is very excited to be a part of Africa Now! together with a great line-up of African acts. It is also such a big deal to play at the Apollo Theater, a legendary venue with a history of showing and nurturing some the very best artists ever!"
Alsarah is a Sudanese-born singer, songwriter and ethnomusicologist. Born in the capital city of Khartoum, she relocated to Yemen, and later moved to the United States in 1994, following the outbreak of civil war. Through a collective love for Nubian 'songs of return' and an evolving conversation around shared migration experiences, Alsarah, drummer Rami el Aasser, Armenian-American oud player Haig Manoukian, and French-born Togo-raised bass player Mawuena Kodjovi, formed Alsarah & The Nubatones with a sound that has grown into what they have dubbed ‘East African retro-pop.’
Jojo Abot, an emerging Ghanaian singer-songwriter, is poised to capture the ears of discerning listeners worldwide with her experimental blend of electronica, afrobeat, jazz, neo-soul, house and reggae. Dividing her time between Accra, Copenhagen and New York City, Jojo's music is a cultural and sonic fusion driven by her sultry voice, enchanting vulnerability and thought-provoking lyrics.
The concert will be hosted by actor, director and musician Sahr Agaujah, whose portrayal of Nigerian Afrobeat star Fela Kuti in the Broadway production of Fela! earned him numerous award nominations.
The March showcase promises to provide concert-goers with an exciting taste of the freshest music from across Africa. Mikki Shepard, Apollo Theater Executive Producer, said: “We are absolutely delighted to present our fourth Africa Now concert with World Music Institute. Our program of artists showcases the amazing range of musical talent within the African music scene. This year we are proud to showcase artists from Niger, Zimbabwe, Sudan and Ghana. Each year’s concert sets the bar high for the next year, and those who attend the festival know they can expect a world-class event, a great line-up and an overall incredible experience!”
Tickets for Africa Now! cost between $25 and $50 and are available at the Apollo Theater Box Office (253 West 125th Street) and Ticketmaster. For more information, visit the Apollo Theater website or watch the video below.