Biography of Africando

Africando is a musical project formed in 1990 to unite New York-based salsa musicians with Senegalese vocalists. Musicians from other African countries were later included under the name Africando All Stars. Salsa has been a hugely popular style in Central and West Africa since the 1940s-1950s, and the goal of Africando was to merge salsa rhythms from both sides of the Atlantic, mainly based on the African salsa tradition. Africando was initiated by producer Ibrahim Sylla from Côte d'Ivoire and Malian arranger Boncana Maiga of Fania All Stars. Some of the musicians initially involved were:Ronnie Baro (of Orquesta Broadway) Pape Seck (ex member of Star Band), Nicholas Menheim, and Medoune Diallo. The first two albums were a big success both in Africa and in the rest of the world. Singer Pape Seck died in 1995, and was replaced by Gnonnas Pedro from Benin (who died August 2005) and Ronnie Baró of Orquestra Broadway. For the album Mandali, well known African musicians, such as Tabu Ley Rochereau, Koffi Olomide, Salif Keita, Sekouba Bambino, Amadou Balaké and Thione Seck were invited. This new constallation led to the new name Africando All Stars. Whilst in the beginning, the songs were Latin American classics sung in wolof language or a mix of wolof and Spanish, newer songs were African popular music classics, redone with Latin rhythms and instrumentation. With both approaches, Africando has been equally successful. For the album Martina (2003) the group name reverted to the name Africando. The singers on this tribute to mothers, sisters, wives and girlfriends include Ismaël Lô from Senegal, and Nyboma and King Kester Emeneya performing Papa Wemba's song "La Référence". Gnonnas Pedro's last recording is the title track of Ketukuba (2006) – he died before the CD was released. The same fate befell Alfredo Rodriguez who arranged 3 tracks on the album. With the emphasis on the links between Cuba and Africa, Ketukuba includes a Latinized version of Franco's "Mario", sung by Madilu System, and Joe King singing "Nina Nina", previously made famous by the Fania All Stars.

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