MOLO - EP Out Now


We are so proud to announce the release of a brand new 4-track EP from our recording project in Johannesburg last year.  The title – MOLO – is Xhosa for hello. This is the first release on our new record label, Africa Express Records.  We hope you love it as much as we do.

Get it here:

Featured artists are BCUC, Blk Jks, Blue May, Damon Albarn, Georgia, Ghetts, Gruff Rhys, Infamous Boiz, Mr Jukes, Moonchild Sanelly, Morena Leraba, Muzi, Nick Zinner, Otim Alpha, Phuzekhemisi, Poté, Radio 123, Remi Kabaka, Sho Madjozi, and Zolani Mahola

Video shot by Denholm Hewlett & Edited by Matt Cronin
Artwork by Gareth Halliday

We would like to dedicate this record to our friend and legend, DJ Spoko.

In Honour of DJ Spoko

It is with great sadness that we mourn the passing of a true giant of African music, Marvin ‘DJ Spoko’ Ramalepe (15/08/82 – 14/03/18). The young electronic music producer was born in Limpopo, and grew up in Atteridgeville, Pretoria, honing his love for music as part of the Hip-Hop crew GBE. DJ Spoko went on to create and enrich various musical styles that swept through South Africa and eventually the world, including Sghubu Sa Pitori, Direkere and most famously Bacardi House and Shangaan Electro.

Marvin went on to put his city on the map and redefine South African house through monumental songs such as ‘Mugwanti’, ‘Township Funk’ and ‘Cucumba’, alongside colleagues such as Mujava. He moved to further pushed the envelope by fusing his style of production with maskandi and rock as part of the collective Fantasma.

Marvin enjoyed global acclaim and was at the beginning of a promising touring career when he was struck by  illness. Never one to give up, Marvin put his love of music to the world until the very last days of his life.

His great talent, uncanny wisdom, sense of humour and charm will be missed by his friends, family, and fans around the world. He was a true pioneer who despite his humble background, used his abilities to make a living for himself and inspire many people around the world.

DJ Spoko’s funeral service will be this weekend in Atteridgeville, Pretoria. Any contributions towards the wellbeing of his 3 young children, will be greatly appreciated. Continue to support and share his music, and keep the legacy of The King of Snares alive.


DJ Spoko – Discography




Words by Spoek Mathambo

Fatoumata Diawara New Album Out May 25th

Malian songstress and advocate for women’s rights Fatoumata Diawara has performed with Africa Express on several occasions. We were honoured to have her join us during the Train Tour in 2012, Marseille’s Fiesta Des Suds and our Roskilde takeover in 2015. Since her critically acclaimed debut album “Fatou” (2011), Fatoumata has toured the world, featured in films such as Timbuktu and Mali Blues and now is releasing her hotly anticipated album “Fenfo”. The record, set to be released by Wagram/Montuno on 25th May features collaboration with musicians such as Malian Kora player Sidiki Diabaté, Vincent Ségal on Cello and Matthieu Chedid (playing organ and guitar).

Expect to hear a mixture of styles on ‘Fenfo’ as it crosses between ancient and modern, from slow simmering blues to funk and afro-pop and beyond.

Watch the video for Nterini directed by Aïda Muluneh  below and stream/buy it here.


Catch Fatoumata on tour across Europe and US throughout 2018:

Mon 19th – Konzerthaus – Vienna, Austria
Thurs 22nd – Moods – Zurich, Switzerland
Fri 23rd – Philharmonie – Luxembourg, Luxembourg
Sat 24th – Philharmonie – Koln, Germany
Sun 25th  – Paradiso – Amsterdam, Netherlands – SOLD OUT
Mon 26th  – Jazz Café – London, UK – SOLD OUT
Tues 27th – Theatre Municipal – Reze, France – SOLD OUT
Thurs 29th – Theatre Romain Rolland – Villejuif, France – SOLD OUT
Fri 30th – De Roma – Antwerp, Belgium
Thu 5th – Festival Chorus – Boulogne Billancout, France
Sun 8th – San Francisco Jazz Festival – San Francisco, USA
Thurs 12th – Koerner Hall – Toronto, Canada
Fri 13th – The Andy Warhol Museum – Pittsburgh, USA
Sat 14th  – Black Rock Arts Centre – Germantown, USA
Mon 16th – Brooklyn Bowl – Brooklyn, USA
Sat 21st  – Cully Jazz Festival – Cully, Switzerland – SOLD OUT
Sat 28th  – Fest. TouCouleurs – Toulouse, France
Sun 13th – Guitar Fest – Barcelona, Spain
Sat 19th – Corbak Festival – La Chaux-du-Milieux, Switzerland
Sat 26th – Massala Festival – Hannover, Germany
Thu 31st – Int´l Africa Festival – Wurzburg, Germany
Sun 24th – Etnojazz Poland – Wroclaw, Poland
Sun 8th – Rudolstadt Festival – Rudolstadt, Germany
Sat 14th – Festival Cruilla – Barcelona, Spain
Fri 27th – La Mar de Musicas – Cartagena, Spain
Sun 29th – Iboga Summer Festival – Valencia, Spain
Sun 5th – Concertgebouw – Amsterdam, Netherlands
Tue 11th – Le Trianon – Paris, France

On The Corner Records: Triple Album Giveaway!

Mugwisa International Xylophone Group hail from Iganga, Uganda and play the embaire, a powerhouse xylophone that requires 12 people to play it. The instrument is dug into a pit for extra resonance and is often used for ceremonies that last for hours. This special strand of Ugandan folk  music was first formally released by On The Corner Records last year. This year they’ve returned with a rip-roaring Iganga Embaire EP, recently featured in Vinyl Factory’s Best New Releases. 

In celebration of the release, we’ve teamed up with On The Corner Records to offer one lucky winner a triple pack which includes the newly released Mugwisa record and the 2016 Embaire Umeme release. Alongside these two gems, we’ll also be giving away The Search,  the latest album from Collocutor – the experimental jazz band led by friend of Africa Express and stellar sax player Tamar Osborn. With support from Ethiojazz pioneer Mulatu Astatke and tastemaker Gilles Peterson, Collocutor’s second album is definitely one for your collection.

For your chance to win these three records, simply sign up to our mailing list and share this post on your social media channels. Competition closes on December 6th and a  winner will be announced within 2 days.

Listen to the albums below for a taste of what you might have in store!


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Terms and Conditions: The competition is open to entrants in UK. All entries must be received by 6th Dec 2017. 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.

Oumou Sangare In The Round: 31st Jan 2018

Earlier this year the revered ‘Songstress of Wassoulu’, Oumou Sangare released Mogoya, her first album in 8 years. Now she brings her new material to the Roundhouse for a special, intimate one off show on Wednesday 31st January 2018. The new album out on No-Format marks a shift in Oumou’s artistic voice, made with young producers from France and Sweden Mogoya  (which translates as Today’s People) seems crafted to speak to a new younger audience. The album, which features a stunning collab with Tony Allen (listen to Yere Faga here), carries stories about Mali’s current political crises, migration and more, bubbling over a bed of driving riffs and uptempo rhythms. Now seems as good a time as any to see one of the world’s most powerful vocalists in her element.

Doors at 7pm on Wed 31st Jan, tickets available now

Oumou’s performance kicks off a week of In The Round gigs, find out more about the other artists here.


For a taste of what’s in store watch Nowness’ stunning video of Oumou’s latest track ‘Kamelemba’:

Photo by  Benoit Peverelli

Paul Weller and Krar Collective team up on new track

Krar Collective are the Ethiopian (London based) three piece band who joined our UK train tour in 2012. Five years on, the trio have toured the US and played stages like Paris’ Musee du Quai Branly amongst others. Paul Weller joined our most recent tour with the Orchestra of Syrian Musicians in 2016, offering audiences this stunning rendition of Wild Wood . It’s a pleasure to see these Africa Express alumni collaborating to bring you a cross genre experiment in the form of ‘Mother Ethiopia Part 3’. Krar Collective feature on the third and final part of this project, which will be out on 12 inch vinyl from September 29th.

Pre-order Mother Ethiopia here and listen to Krar’s contribtuion to Mother Ethiopia below!

Photo by Jacob Crawfurd: Krar Collective, live at Womex 2011.

Trio Da Kali and Kronos Quartet Release New Album: Ladilikan

In June 2016 Malian singer Hawa Kassé Mady Diabate joined us for Africa Express presents Terry Riley’s In C Mali. She  performed both at Holland Festival (Amsterdam) and Les Nuits Des Fourvieres in Lyon. The daughter of Mali’s greatest traditional singer Kassé Mady Diabate, Hawa is joined by some of Mali’s most renowned musicians. Her star studded band Trio Da Kali, features Lassana Diabaté on balafon and Mamadou Kouyaté on bass ngoni. The trio are set to release their debut album Ladilikan on 15th September on World Circuit Records.

The album is a collaboration with leading San Francisco based Kronos Quartet, also known as the world’s most adventurous string quartet, with over 60 albums under their belt. Kronos and Da Kali come together, blending southern Mali’s Mande sonorities with Kronos’ mix of violas, violin and cello. The group collaborated with American composer Jacob Garchik to arrange Trio Da Kali’s repertoire, bringing it into new uncharted territory.

Listen to the result below, Eh Ya Ye Ye is the first single off the debut album ‘Ladilikan’ by Trio Da Kali and Kronos Quartet, out on 15th September:

You can pre-order Ladilikan (out on World Circuit Records) here .

Photo by Jay Blakesberg

The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians at Womad and Cambridge Folk Fest

Last summer, Africa Express reunited a Syrian Orchestra who had played with Gorillaz back in 09, and since been scattered across the globe by the ongoing conflict.  These incredible musicians reformed as ‘The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians’ for a tour of Europe featuring guests such as Noura Mint Seymali , Julia Holter , Bassekou Kouyate , Paul Weller and more. The played the pyramid stage at Glastonbury, headlined the Holland festival, sold out the Royal Festival Hall and released a critically acclaimed live album.  
A year on, with the conflict in Syria ongoing, many of the members of The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians have settled in the UK and Europe.  How lucky we are that they are able to bring their beautiful Syrian sounds to stages across the UK. Recently playing main stages at WOMAD (listen to their set on BBC3)  and Cambridge Folk Festival, the Orchestra shared their own arrangements of classical Arabic music and melodies with eager audiences, and featured a guest turn from their friend Maverick Sabre who joined them for a beautiful Syrian version of his hit ‘I need’ and the poignant ‘A Change is Gonna Come’.  

They weren’t the only Africa Express Alumni on the festival circuit – having met at Africa Express’ headline show for Fiesta Des Seds Marseilles Marseille in 2013 Fatoumata Diawara , Toumani Diabate and his son Sidiki  joined forces with (-M-)  as brand new supergroup Lamomali. They’re now set to tour Europe from November onwards, find out more here and put on your dancing shoes.

Watch The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians’ set at Cambridge Folk Festival on Sky Arts TV.

                     Mohamad Saleh on Qanoon

Maverick Sabre

Tarek Zaidieh

Jupiter & Okwess New Album: ‘Kin Sonic’

We had the pleasure of inviting Congolese superband Jupiter & Okwess to the Africa Express train tour in 2012. Their infectious energy and musicianship was undeniable then, and it’s a delight to see the global release of their second album Kin Sonic today. The album features collaborations from fellow Africa Express alumni Warren Ellis of Nick Cave’s Bad Seeds on violin and Damon Albarn on keys. Massive Attack’s Robert Del Naja also offered his own contribution in designing the album cover.

In true Jupiter style, the album blends political critique with storytelling and engrossing rhythms, offering a kaleidoscopic soundscape of today’s Congo. You’ll  hear the sound of Jupiter’s experiences, from living on the streets of Kinshasa (at age 18) to touring the world, cascading through the album. All of this held down by sturdy basslines from Yendé, impossibly dexterous rhythms from Montana (of Staff Benda Bilili) and infectious riffs from guitarists Eric and Richard – Blaise’s vocals provide a counter point to Jupiter’s enigmatic bass tone.

You can catch this Congolese powerhouse  live at Camden Assembly on August 25th, alongside Mali’s BKO Quartet. Tickets are still available hereKin Sonic is out now on Glitterbeat Records, available on CD, 180g vinyl and digitally.

Watch the video to the lead single Okafombolo here and stream the album below: