Salif Keita at Barbican, February 10th!

Malian singer and living legend Salif Keita performs at London’s Barbican Centre on February 10th. The world renowned artist brings his blend of griot sensibility, rock, jazz and funk to London for one night only. He will be supported by Kora virtuouso Sona Jobarteh. She will be performing material from her debut album Fayisa. 

Tickets for the show are available here. You also have a chance to catch Salif in Cambridge on 11th Feb. Don’t miss out, and watch the videos below for a taste of what’s in store!

Africa Express Presents...The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians and Guests Album Out Now!

We’re delighted to announce the release of a live album entitled Africa Express Presents… The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians & Guests, which is out now on Transgressive Records!  Click here to stream and download the album exclusively on Google Play Music.

                                             ★★★★ – The Independent       7/10 Uncut Magazine        ★★★★ – MOJO

We recorded the album live in June when The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians came together for the first time since the conflict in their country flared up five years ago. They were joined by artists from Britain, Syria, Algeria, Lebanon, Mali, Mauritania, Senegal, Turkey, Tunisia and the United States including Bassekou KouyatéBu KolthoumDamon AlbarnEslam JawaadFaia YounanJulia HolterMalikahMounir TroudiNoura Mint SeymaliPaul WellerRachid Taha and Seckou Keita.

Raghad Haddad, orchestra member (viola) from Damascus said: “The album is very important to us. It was a very unique project, artists from all over the world performing with the most brilliant musicians from Syria. It was an honour for me. And this new album will give people another opportunity to get to know The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians for what we are – passionate, professional musicians.”

The joyous and uplifting album showcases Syrian and Arabic music, alongside unique interpretations of some well-known Western songs. It features tracks recorded live at Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall –  a show described in a 5 star review by the Evening Standard as “an epic paean to their lost homeland”- as well as songs from the storming opening slot on Glastonbury’s Pyramid Stage and the Holland Festival in Amsterdam, Istanbul Jazz Festival and Roskilde Festival in Denmark.

This album was made possible with the support of Google Play Music.

Co commissioned by 14-18 Now & Holland Festival

Full track listing:

# Track Title – Artist

Track listing:

  1. Intro – The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians
  2. 3azely – The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians
  3. Wild Wood – Paul Weller & The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians
  4. Yah Mahla El Fus’ha – Faia Younan & The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians
  5. Out of Time – Damon Albarn & The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians
  6. Rakeb 3al Hamra – Mounir Troudi & The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians
  7. Feel You – Julia Holter & The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians
  8. Al Ajaleh – The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians feat. Bassekou Kouyaté & Seckou Keita
  9. Blackbird – The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians feat. Damon Albarn & Paul Weller
  10. Old Damascus – The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians
  11. Richa – Noura Mint Seymali & The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians
  12. White Flag – Damon Albarn & The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians feat. Eslam Jawaad, Malikah, Ceza & Bu Kolthoum
  13. Ya Rayeh – Rachid Taha & The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians
  14. Oghneyat Men Baladi – The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians

Ghana Soundz Repressed by Soundway Records

2002 saw the first release of ‘Ghana Soundz: Afro-Beat, Funk & Fusion in 70’s Ghana’, a record which brought the genesis of a specifically Ghanaian genre, to a wider global audience. Renowned for its collation of loud horns, pounding beats and bold vocals, the record documents an era which saw highlife blend with the influences of James Brown, Fela, Santana and more. The first ever compilation from Soundway, ‘Ghana Soundz’ gained worldwide acclaim thanks to the use of one of the tracks, ‘Bukom Mashie’ in Hollywood Blockbuster The Last King of Scotland.

Some 15 years after initial release, the seminal compilation is being repressed by Soundway Records, out on 2xLP January 27th. You can pre-order your copy of the exclusive vinyl here, with tracks from the legendary Ebo Taylor, Oscar Sulley and The Uhuru Dance Band and more.


Tunisian Band Bargou 08 release debut album on Glitterbeat Records

Bargou08 are a Tunisian band creating traditional highland music with electro and rock sensibilities. Formed in 2013 following a three week residency, the band have toured Europe and Tunisia, with a clear emphasis on playing in marginalised areas. The album was recorded in the village of Bargou, a valley between the mountains of northwest Tunisia and the border with Algeria. Band leader Nidhal Yahyaoui grew up there and was inspired by the regional songs he heard his mother and father singing. The debut album ‘Targ’ features local musicians as well as European instrumentalists, and was entirely recorded in Yahyaoui’s family home. Expect to hear Moog merge with the haunting power of ancient songs: the sound of past fusing with present. Targ’ is out on Glitterbeat Records Feb 17th. Preorder it here:

Watch the album trailer below for an insight into Bargou08’s creative process.

Seun Kuti, Tony Allen and more live on 24th March 2017

For all fans of Afrobeat, this night is not to be missed! On 24th March 2017 at Kentish Town’s ForumSoundcrash brings together a stellar line up celebrating the genre that changed the world. The bill includes long time Africa Express alumnus Tony Allen; one of the fathers of Afrobeat and master drummer who played with the great Fela Kuti. Fela’s son and longstanding ambassador of West African music Seun Kuti and band Egypt 80 will headline the show. These Afrobeat heavyweights will be joined by London “funk-sci-fi-jazz-psychedelic” band The Heliocentrics. Formed in the late 90’s, they have been creating their particular brand of super galactic jazz funk ever since, and have collaborated with giants as diverse as MF Doom and Mulatu Astatke. XOA and Melt Yourself Down also feature on the bill.  This may just be the best night of 2017, so don’t miss out.

Tickets available here and check out the master in action below:


The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians and Guests Live Album Giveaway

Just last Friday we released our latest album, Africa Express Presents… The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians and Guests. The record features live performances from Paul Weller, Bassekou Kouyate, Faia Younan and many more, where each track was picked from the Orchestra’s five shows across Europe this summer. Whilst the album is out now (you can buy it here) and available to stream over at Google Play Music, we’ve decided to share the magic and offer two lucky winners their own copy of the album. Pitchfork’s Kevin Lorenzo gave it an 8.0 stating that “As an exercise in technical genius it is astounding“, and The Independent, MOJO, Q Magazine and the Evening Standard have all given it four stars.

For your chance to get your hands on the album that brought together some of Syria’s best classical musicians and artists from around the world, just sign up to our mailing list below. And in case you needed convincing, check out Bassekou Kouyate, Majd Jredah and Seckou Keita performing ‘Al Ajaleh’ at the Southbank Centre show in June.

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Terms and Conditions: The competition is open to entrants in UK. All entries must be received by 21st Dec 2016. A winner will be selected at random and notified within three days of the above closing date by email. The winner will then have three days to respond and claim the prize. The winner will be required to supply details of a valid delivery/postal address. Once confirmed, the prize will be shipped free of charge. By entering this giveaway you confirm that Africa Express are allowed to contact you via email only with information on new products, shows or competitions. You can unsubscribe from these emails at any time.

Orchestre Poly-Rythmo Album Giveaway

Legendary Benin musicians Orchestre Poly-Rythmo de Cotonou have released their new album Madjafalao and it’s out now! The album follows the release of Cotonou Club in 2011, their first new record since the early ’80s. The band, founded in Benin in 1968 by bandleader Mélomé Clément, reached popularity across West Africa throughout the 1970s, recording over 50 albums and playing alongside greats such as Fela Kuti. The name “poly-rythmo’ was born out of the plethora of influences and rhythms that inspired the band who brought together sounds from traditional Vodoun rituals to funk, Nigerian Afro-Beat, Ghanaian high-life and more. The 80s saw the band go into indefinite hiatus,  only returning to action following re-releases from labels like Soundway and Analog Africa. The band reformed in 2008 and toured the world to critical acclaim. Despite the death of founder Mélomé Clément in 2012, singer Vincent Ahehehinnou, bass player Gustave Bentho and singer Loko Pierre decided to keep the Poly-Rythmo flame alive and after a few months hiatus they resumed rehearsals and started composing new songs, tracks which would eventually form the basis of Madjafalao.

To celebrate, Africa Express have teamed up with Because Music to bring 4 luck winners a copy of the album. Simply share this post on twitter or facebook to be in with a chance to win! Competition winners will be contacted on Monday 5th Dec at 12pm. Good luck.


Poly-rythmo photo by Florent Mazzoleni

Header photo TP Orchestre Poly Rythmo session at bar Coco Beach, Cotonou, taken by Youri Lenquette 06/2016


Mali's BKO Quintet on UK Tour

BKO Quintet hail from Bamako, Mali and are bringing their self titled brand of ‘World and Roll’ to the UK.  Renowned artists in their own right, the five band members fuse the sounds of their griot heritage to deliver a traditional take on contemporary Mali. With talented percussionist Ibrahima Sarr who has toured with Omou Sangare, vocals from virtuoso Fassara Sacko whose innovation is rooted in the griot tradition, djelingoni master Abdoulaye Kone (who has travelled the world with Salif Keita and Tiken Jah Fakoli),  Nfali Diakité donsongoni player and singer, and Aymeric Krol, this band is not to be missed.

The tour kicks off with a free show on Sunday 27th November at London’s Hootananny in Brixton. If you can’t make it, check out the other dates below and clear your diaries!
27/11 – Hootananny Brixton London – free entry
28/11 – Sound Control Manchester –
29/11 – The Parish, Huddersfield –
30/11 – student workshop (sold out), Liverpool
01/12 – 24 Kitchen Street, Liverpool –
02/12 – The Canteen, Bristol – free entry
03/12 – The Duke of Cumberland, Whitstable –
04/12 – Norwich Arts Centre Norwich –


Africa Rising, Book Giveaway

Africa Rising showcases some of the diverse artistic and creative talent from across the continent. Covering fashion, design, music, photography, architecture and all in between, Africa Rising presents a contemporary snapshot of African innovation. The book sheds light on a new wave of artists marrying a distinct connection to the traditional with unique visions which speak directly to their contemporary contexts. Whether it be Hamed Ouattara’s innovative use of discarded materials to make furniture or Le Ndomo’s use of ancient Malian textile dyeing as a means to mobilise Malian youths, Nle‘s architectural answers to climate change and rapid urbanisation or Gonçalo Mabunda‘s recycling of weapons to make sculptures and traditional masks,  Africa Rising offers an insight into the steps African creatives are taking, whether or not the wider world is watching.

The volume is co-edited by Design Indaba: a multifaceted design platform that garners worldwide critical acclaim for their annual design conference held in Cape Town.

Africa Express is very pleased to partner with Gestalten, the publishers of Africa Rising to offer one lucky reader a copy of the book. To be in with a chance to win, share this post on your twitter or facebook (making sure to tag @AfricaExpress) so we can get in touch with you. The competition will end 12pm on Tuesday 22nd November. See the stunning photos below for a snapshot of what you could get your hands on!


Le Ndomo, from Africa Rising, Copyright, Gestalten 2016
Le Ndomo, from Africa Rising, Copyright, Gestalten 2016


Wangechi Mutu, from Africa Rising, Copyright, Gestalten 2016
Wangechi Mutu, from Africa Rising, Copyright, Gestalten 2016


from Africa Rising, Copyright, Gestalten 2016
Nle, from Africa Rising, Copyright, Gestalten 2016