One of Africa’s greatest bands, Senegal’s Orchestra Baobab.
Their epic story begins in the heart of Dakar’s Medina in the late 1960s, and extends across the world and into the 21st century, featuring an extraordinary group of singers and players from across the continent, and encompassing a ground-breaking mix of Afro-Latin styles, international pop, traditional griot music, and an after-dark nightclub ambience of lilting, mellifluous rhythms.
The band owes their start to the entrepreneurial force that was Ibra Kassé, club owner, impresario and founder of the Star Band, whose residency at Dakar’s Club Miami in the mid 60s made it a notoriously lively joint. Here, Kassé’s house band lit up the night with a music flavoured by new rhythms from around the world, all flowing into Dakar – a modern and cosmopolitan city and one of the great ports of west Africa – from America, Europe, and Cuba, as well as from Senegal’s West African neighbours Ghana, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Guinea and the Ivory Coast. During this period of cultural convergence, Senegalese traditional music was also being heavily championed and promoted by Léopold Senghor, Senegal’s renowned president, poet and cultural theorist. This eclectic blend of local and international rhythms and styles would all later feed into Baobab’s DNA.
Over the decades Baobab’s lineup of course has continued to evolve, with some sad departures and some exciting new additions.
Under the great Balla Sidibé’s leadership, their critically acclaimed 2017 LP 'Tribute to Ndiouga Dieng' revisited old territories and broke new ground for these beloved West African veterans, and since its release, they have continued to tour worldwide, bringing their rich and much-loved sound to new and longtime fans alike.
In 2020 celebrating 50 years as one of Africa’s greatest bands – one whose popularity has taken them around the world – is an achievement few can equal, and while special Anniversary shows have been put on hold as a result of the global Coronavirus outbreak, plans remain in place to celebrate the band and their story through filmed performances and interviews, remixes and playlists, to help the prestigious Orchestra’s global legion of fans celebrate their half-century milestone.