Afro and Highlife music has evolved over the years,nonetheless, the blueprint has remained the same. Here are a few Afro music legends that have remained timeless.
The legendary South African artist was a renowned musician in the African and Diaspora music scene, her song Vulindlela released in 1997 became a chant and theme song to the fight against apartheid and social injustice in South Africa. Until her death, in… she remains a music icon and one of the most predominant female artists to come from South Africa.
Dan Maraya Jos
Born in Jos, north-central part of Nigeria in 1946, he made music in the Hausa language, a predominant language among the Northern part of Nigeria, always seen harnessing his Kutungi, a small single-stringed guitar, popularly played around northern Nigeria performing for Emirs, and the elite of Northern Nigeria. He would often use his music and poetry to question societal vices such as; early marriages, forced marriage, and other orthodoxies going on in Nigeria. Until his death in 2015, he remains an icon in the poetry and Northern Nigeria folk music community.
Born in 1936 in Atani a small town in the southeastern part of Nigeria, his highlife music experience was a combination of Jazz, Calypso and salsa he went on to write over 500 songs with his most prolific album being Kedu America with hit Song Osondi Owendi, he eventually passed away in 2001 in the United States.
Born in 1938 in Abeokuta, a town 50 miles north of Lagos Nigeria, he was encouraged by his father to begin playing the piano at a young age, he would’ve eventually left Abeokuta for London to study medicine, but still determined to perform music he starts one of Britain’s first independent African and Caribbean labels, Fela Ransom Kuti and his highlife Rankers. He would eventually return to Nigeria and advocate for justice and peace against the then ruling military regime, spending time in prison and eventually establishing his band Egypt 80, He lived on advocating for the right to smoke weed and fighting against social injustice and corruption in Nigeria, becoming one of Nigeria’s most outspoken and dominating figures to introduce Afrobeats to the world. Eventually passing away in 1997 due to illness and complications, his youngest and oldest sons, Seun, and Femi, have carried on the torch and still performing with the band to this day.
Ali Farka Toure
Considered the pioneer for African desert blues and ranked 76th on the Rolling Stones’ greatest guitarist of all time. Until his death in 2006, from cancer, Farka as he was called, meaning Donkey, because of his stubborn nature, remains one of the finest multi-lingual artists to come from Mali.