This story began 500 years ago, in the land of the Congos, the Mina and the Mandinga, in that land where highlife, soukous and apala were born, where the drums, the kora and the marimbula have their roots. From there, all this music travelled to Colombia. And it is here, in San Basilico de Palenque — the Colombian town that rebelled against its Spanish conquerors in the seventeenth century and founded the ‘first free village of America’ — that Justo Valdez, Viviano Torres and Luís Towers were born.
Colombia is linked to Africa by the umbilical cord of history: inseparable like branches of a single tree and united by centuries of colonization. This album is the story of the reunion of Colombia and Africa through music, and brings these musicians closer together with their descendants from centuries ago.
What is Champeta? It is the first contemporary Afro-Colombian music genre, the result of a four-century-long history of musical exchanges between Africa and Colombia. In the 1960s, the Afro communities of the Caribbean coast discovered popular African music — highlife, soukous, mbaqanga and other Haitian rhythms. These records reached the port of Cartagena, on the Caribbean coast of Colombia, through the influx of travellers and sailors, and generated a huge musical movement, unpredictable and unique in Latin America and the Caribbean. The Afro-Colombians created their own versions of Congolese soukous, highlife and other modern African rhythms, fusing them with the folklore of the cumbia, bullerengue, chalupa and other Caribbean styles. This fusion, completely unique in its genre, was called Champeta criolla, a movement inspired by popular African music and readapted in Afro-Colombia.
This musical project is a dream come true. After many years of hard work, it presents the greatest talents of Afro-Colombian music from the Caribbean coast, alongside their African brothers. Led by the Congolese guitarist and arranger Bopol Mansiamina, and produced by Lucas Silva ‘Champeta-Man Original’ — a well-known figurehead of Afro-Colombian music — Voodoo Love Inna Champeta Land is the realization of a great and unique vision.
VOODOO LOVE INNA CHAMPETA LAND
The 1980s were just beginning on Colombia’s Caribbean coast when Viviano Torres, a black Cimarrón (descendant of runaway slaves) from San Basilio de Palenque, went to work in Maicao, a town bordering Venezuela. His aim was to earn enough money to buy himself a tape recorder and record the African music that was being played in the poor districts of Cartagena. Viviano, an Afro-Colombian, was a lover of music and dance, and a native of San Basilio de Palenque, which had resisted Spanish colonization for more than two centuries.
Meanwhile, at the age of 26, Dally Kimoko travelled from Kinshasa to France with Nyboma, a singer with the group Kamale Dynamique. Over the next twenty years Dally would live in Paris and record hundreds of African music albums, becoming a star soukous guitarist. Neither Viviano nor Dally Kimoko could have imagined that twenty years later they would be recording an album of soukous or Afro-Colombian Champeta together. This was the start of this album, which brings together descendants of Africa who struggled to survive in places far from home.
Congolese musician Bopol Mansiamina became famous with his group Les Quatres Etoiles, which features singer Nyboma and Syran Mbenza on guitar. However, he is also known for his countless other productions, many of which are among the best-loved African hits in Colombia.
In 2003, with the aim of recording an LP, ‘Champeta–Man Original’ brought Bopol Mansiamina and Guy Bilong together in Cartagena, along with Viviano Torres, Justo Valdez and Luís Towers.
Bopol, Bilong and the singers of the group then travelled to Bogotá, where the recording work continued. The sessions ended in Paris, with several well-known talents from the Congo, Guinea, Angola and Cameroon. Nyboma, known for his work with the Kékélé Orchestra, is the special guest on two songs. The legendary guitarist Sékou ‘Diamond Fingers’ Diabaté, founder of Bembeya Jazz, also took part in this adventure.
This release honours the greatest guitarists of Africa (the Congo in particular), including Diblo Dibala, Caien Madoka, Dally Kimoko and Rigo Star. The famous ‘animateurs’ (popular singers to the soukous rhythm) were also involved. Hadya Koyaute, a member of the group African Divas, took part as a guest from Guinea, and Cameroonian guest drummer Guy Bilong is supremely talented, with a repertoire that spans mandinga to soukous, as well as the makossa of his native land.
This production is a journey through the rhythms of Afro-Colombia and Africa, creating a new fusion, building bridges between two traditions, between mother and offspring. From cumbia to soukous, chalupa to Afro-beat, the lumbalú (funerary song) of Palenque to the Sowetan rhythm or South African mbaqanga, the dialogue between drums, guitars and voices could go on for ever.
The singers of the Colombiafrica Orchestra — Justo Valdez, Viviano Torres and Luís Towers— have had long careers, creating key pieces in the history of Afro-American music. Throughout their lives they have fought for this new musical genre, Champeta, which is part of the heritage of Africa in Colombia. They are the founders of this rhythm, which we hope one day will spread throughout the world.
Lucas Silva ‘Champeta-Man Original’
CHAMPETA-MAN ORIGINAL – LUCAS SILVA
‘In 2002, I was living in Paris, in the African quarter of Chateau Rouge. Whenever I left my house I used to run into Alain Kounkou, Dally Kimoko, 3615 Code Niawu, B-mas Producción, and many other musicians and producers of African music. The streets were full of music and people from all the countries of black Africa; the latest hits of the continent and the jewels of the past were calling to me on every corner. So, when I liked a song, I just had to go in and ask the name of the artist; they didn’t understand why a kid from Colombia would be interested in that music. For all of us, the musicians and producers of Champeta, it was a dream to record with the musicians of Africa. A dream which seemed almost impossible to fulfil. Bopol and Guy were in Cartagena and Bogotá for almost a month, recording the first part of this album. Then I went back to France and continued the struggle to complete this project, the musical meeting of two continents. I wanted to include the stars of Africa, so I invited the cream of the guitarists of the Congo: Diblo Dibala, Caien Madoka, Rigo Star, Dally Kimoko… but African music in its totality is vast, it’s not just the music of the Congo. So I had the good fortune to meet Sékou Diabaté ‘Diamond Fingers’ at the Africa No. 1 radio station. Sékou impressed me with his simplicity and his way of being. In a Parisian café, he spoke to me about Latin music, one of his great loves. Imagine my surprise when he sang me the introduction to the ‘Malanga’… an old Cuban song and a great favourite in the Afro-Colombian communities. I felt a spark of excitement when I realized that Africa and Afro-Colombia were the same thing, the same drive, the same birth and destiny. The song which had stirred up such a fever in Colombia was the same one that Sékou Diabaté was singing to me with incomparable poise and style. I also invited the singers 3615 Code Niawu and Ocean — their style is like that of an African ragga. The singer Nyboma had to be there, too, representing, as he does, the glory days of Congolese music from the Kamale Dynamique until today with the Kékélé Orchestra.
All of them are the icons, the stars of the universe of Champeta criolla. All of them have shone so brightly that, with their light, they have given Colombia a new awareness of its African roots and its cultural heritage.’
14 Sambangole/Tres Golpes Na’ Mas
feat Las Alegres Ambulancías De Palenque
Arrangement: Edgar Gutierrez/Lucas Silva
COLOMBIAFRICA –THE MYSTIC ORCHESTRA is:
Luís Towers: lead vocals & chorus, composer
Viviano Torres: lead vocals & chorus, composer
Justo Valdez ‘Gele Gele’: lead vocals & chorus, composer
Lucas Silva ‘Champeta-Man Original’: production, mix, editing, arrangements
Bopol Mansiamina (Congo) : rhythm guitar, bass, arrangements
Guy Bilong (Cameroon): drums
Edgar Gutierrez: bass, arrangements, acoustic guitar
Dally Kimoko (Congo): guitar on ‘Mama Africa’ and ‘Zarandia Champeta’
Diblo Dibala (Congo): lead guitar on ‘Mini Kusuto’ and ‘El Liso En Olaya’
Rigo Star (Congo): lead guitar on ‘Quien Manda A Quien’ and ‘Jaloux Jaloux’
Caien Madoka (Congo): lead guitar on ‘Tus Huellas’
Sékou Diabaté (Guinea): guitars on ‘Kumina’
Nyboma (Congo): lead vocals on ‘Jaloux Jaloux’, ‘Tus Huellas’ and ‘Mama Africa’
Hadya Koyaute (Guinea): lead vocals on ‘Zarandia Champeta’
Chief Udoh Essiet (Nigeria): percussion on ‘Kumina’
Ocean (Congo) : vocals on ‘Mama Africa’, ‘Jaloux Jaloux’, ‘Quien Manda A Quien’ and ‘Tus Huellas’
El Rey Valdez : vocals on ‘Kumina’
Niawu (Congo): vocals on ‘Mama Africa’, ‘Jaloux Jaloux’, ‘Quien Manda A Quien’ and ‘Tus Huellas’
Miguel Yamba (Congo): bass on ‘Mini Kusuto’ and ‘Tus Huellas’
Jean Philippe (Guyana): keyboards on ‘Mama Africa’, ‘No Habla Na'’, ‘Tus Huellas’ and ‘El Liso En Olaya’
Paulino Salgado ‘Batata’: drums on ‘Mama Africa’, voice on ‘No Habla Na’’
Tomas Valdez ‘Familia’: percussion on ‘Quien Manda A Quien’
Henry Ortiz : accordion
Lucio Tejedor and Enrique Marquez: voices on ‘Kumina’
Gustavo Garcia ‘Pantera’: trombone, chorus, brass arrangements on ‘No Habla Na’’, ‘Quien Manda A Quien’, ‘Kumina’ and ‘Zarandia Champeta’
Ramon Benitez: tuba, trombone
Pacho Davila: saxophone on ‘No Habla Na’’
Rafael Sandoval: saxophone
Roberto Coao: percussion on ‘Jaloux Jaloux’, ‘Tus Huellas’ and ‘Mama Africa’
Adriana and Erika: chorus on ‘Mama Africa’
Eduardo Martinez: maracas on ‘Quien Manda A Quien’
Kassiva and Melchor el Cruel: chorus on ‘No Habla Na'’, ‘Kumina’ and ‘Zarandia Champeta’
Alonso Puello: tambor llamado, maracas, tambora
Nicoyembe: chorus and güiro
Oscar Escobar ‘Caco’: tiple on ‘Tus Huellas’
Arnulfo Mendez: bata drums on ‘Sambangole’
Vladimir Coronado: keyboards on ‘Sambangole’
PALENQUE RECORDS is a label specialized in Afro-Colombian music, founded in 1998 by Lucas Silva Dj Champeta-Man. Since then,
we have released many records and we have changed the face of afro-colombian music, with a fusion of modern and traditional sounds. Our releases go from the very traditional genres of music, until the most modern and afro -electro beats....more