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DR Congo: Music from the Margins

Staff Benda Bilili are a group of Congolese street musicians. They live around the grounds of the zoo in Kinshasa, and play music which is rooted in rumba, with elements of old-school rhythm’n’blues and reggae. The core of the band consists of four senior singers/guitarist, who are all disabled (they suffered from poliomyelitis when they were young) and move around in spectacularly customized tricycles. They are backed by a younger rhythm section consisting of ex-sheges, abandoned street kids who were taken under the protection of the older members of the band. The soloist is an 18 year-old boy who plays guitar-like solos on an electrified one-stringed lute he designed and built himself out of a tin can.

They recently published their third album entitled ‘Effacer le tableau’.

 

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