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Olufemi Sanyaolu was born in Nigeria, went to school in the UK and for many years created music between London and Paris.
He started to write songs as a teenager. At first, he used an old piano at school but later switched to a guitar. After graduation, he opposed his father’s will and devoted his life entirely to music. He was discovered when busking with a guitar in the Paris underground. To kick off his career, Jones got help from the man who found his talent – Phil Pickett, the former Culture Club keyboard player, who quickly became his manager.
Jones calls his style “Blufunk” – this is a mix of African influences, blues and funk rhythms. This word appears in the title of his debut album – “Blufunk Is a Fact”, which was released in 1992. The record includes such hits as “Rhytm Is Love” and “Free Your Soul”, which quickly became popular in the UK. At the turn of the 20th and 21st centuries, Jones was considered one of the most interesting blues and rock musicians on the European scene. So far, he has released six albums. The last one – “Capitan Rugged” (2013) – is a comeback of the satirical superhero who magically captures the stories of African refugees in pop songs.
A contemporary nomad who feels like home wherever her music is well-received.
Born in 1980, Flavia grew up in the favelas of Rio de Janeiro. In such hard conditions, she was accompanied by diverse music, ranging from samba, pagode and bossa nova to reggae, soul and funk. Perhaps, this is why today her trademarks are genre diversity and mixing. As a teenager, she sang in bars in Copacabana. Few years later, she decided to give it a shot in Europe. Eventually, she settled in Paris in 2006. A huge turning point in her music career was meeting the producer Victor-Attila Vaghiem, who enabled Flavia to record her debut album – “Bossa Muffin” (2011). The record combined elements of reggae, which she has loved since she was a child, with African styles and rhythms, which she studied under the watchful eye of Pierre Bika Bika, a bass and guitar player from Cameroon. The next step was “Mundo Meu”, an album on which the young artist was accompanied by Patrice Bart-Williams from Sierra Leone and Tony Allen himself.
Her music has the vitality of samba, the joy of forró, the cheekiness of hip-hop, the positive vibrations of reggae and the lyrical echoes of bossa nova. Despite the fact that she is a true volcano of energy on stage, she can also show her more peaceful and melancholic side – the famous saudade. It is particularly noticeable in the bitter-sweet lyrics which refer to life in favelas and personal recollections full of emotions. Moreover, Flavia sings about women’s strength and wisdom – they are often the main topic of her songs and a constant warranty of the world’s continuity. Still, Flavia’s music is first and foremost a huge dose of positive energy and a multi-colour conglomerate of issues, styles and topics.
Sofiane Saidi grew up in Sidi Bel Abbès near Oran. He listened to local raï artists who performed at weddings in music clubs. At the age of 15, Saidi started singing. In the 90s, just like many of his fellow countrymen, he emigrated to France. There, he set on a journey to various musical worlds and cooperated with the hip-hop band Tukuleur, Natachą Atlas, DJs from Acid Arab and the legendary raï band from his hometown – Raïna Raï – among others. In 2015, he released his debut solo album – “Mordjane”. Three years later, he cooperated with the band Mazalda on a well-received record – “El Ndjoum”.
Saidi plays with the style of raï in a fascinating way, drawing a lot of inspiration from funk, rock, electronic music and disco. He managed to capture the energetic spirit and freshness of raï from its glory days. Primarily, Saidi is a fascinating singer and a charismatic frontman who was born to perform on stage. Mazalda, a six-member band from Lyon, are fascinated by raï, fans of Bedouin rhythms and gasbah sounds as well as psychedelic synthesiser music. Along with Sofian Saidi, they take the audience to the world of the best version of the 21st-century modern raï.
Known as the “Prince of Raï 2.0”, Sofiane Saidi and the outstanding band Mazalda present a post-modernist vision of electro from Maghreb. Analogue synthesisers, an electric saz and saxophones as well as Saidi’s hypnotising voice create a new quality of raï, a music genre from Algeria.
Raï, once music for workers from the port city of Oran, became popular in the 80s and dominated the dance floors of the Algerian diaspora in France. Its origins date back to the mid-20th century and zendanis, first Algerian protest songs. Poor port and seaside factory workers complained in the lyrics about harsh living conditions, increased number of crimes and colonial oppression. In Algerian, the word “raï” means “opinion”, and it was often used in the lyrics of zendanis. The new genre absorbed nearly all musical elements that appeared back then in multicultural Oran: the Moroccan gnawa, Arab-Andalusian themes, flamenco, rhythm and instruments of the Bedouins as well as French cabaret songs. In fact, this still happens today. The peak of raï’s popularity came in the 80s and 90s thanks to the expansion of electronic instruments. This is when, Khaled, Rachid Taha and Faudel started their careers.