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Africa Now! at the Apollo: Fatoumata Diawara / Les Fréres Guissé / Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars


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The artists featured in the second edition of AFRICA NOW! at the Apollo, the weekend festival spotlighting today’s African music scene, all hail from West Africa—but each brings a radically different sound, experience and energy to the stage. The centerpiece event, a blow-out concert on the Mainstage of Harlem’s legendary theater, will showcase a griot trio from Senegal, a roots-reggae/Afrobeat collective from Sierra Leone, and a dynamo diva from Mali.

“The most beguiling talent to hit the world music scene in some time” (The Telegraph), Malian songstress Fatoumata Diawara has created her own distinct contemporary folk sound, inspired by Wassoulou tradition, jazz, and blues. She adds an African spin to the concept of the female singer-songwriter. At the center of the music is her warm, affecting voice; spare, rhythmical guitar playing; and gorgeously melodic songs that draw powerfully on love, politics and her own often-troubled experience. And can she DANCE!

Trio Les Frères Guissé, originating from the Fouta region in Senegal, continue in the rich musical legacy paved by Ali Farka Touré, Kar Kar (Boubakar Traoré) and Seydina. Beautiful and sensitive, their close harmonic singing, primarily in Peulh and Wolof, swirls around the melodies of two acoustic guitars and subdued ­percussion – and mesmerizes the audiences they encounter.

Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars (SLRAS) celebrates their 10th anniversary and the launch of their new CD, Libation, with this special concert performance. Joining forces in refugee camps while their homeland was being racked by years of bloody warfare, the band members overcame struggle with the redemptive power of music. Fusing traditional West African music with roots reggae, the SLRAS catalogue is full of bubbling rhythms, irresistible hooks, intricate dub elements, “buoyant grooves and fierce optimism”(NPR).  They have become one of Africa’s most active touring bands, embraced by audiences worldwide for their unique sound and their utterly extraordinary story.
presented in partnership with the apollo theater

Weekend Festival events include:

  • April 4, 10 pm: Apollo Music Café – Africa Now! Curated by OkayAfrica
  • April 4, Midnight: Africa Now! Late Night Jam Presented by Shrine World Music at Silvana, 300 W 116th St.
  • April 5, 1 pm: Africa Now! Les Frères Guissé Family Show Presented by Apollo Family Showtime and WMI
  • April 5, 8 pm: Main Stage Concert Event
  • April 5, 10 pm: Apollo Music Café – Africa Now!
  • April 5, Midnight: Africa Now! After Party Presented by Shrine World Music Center at 2271 Adam Clayton Powell Blvd.