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  • Writer's pictureThe Sound Cafe

Afromondo Presents NYC Debut of Mandingo Festival Featuring Kandia Kora, Maate Keita & Wazumbians

By Stevie Connor.

Afromondo Productions Presents the NYC debut of the first annual Mandingo Festival, a new live music series dedicated to showcasing the best in contemporary talent from West Africa and beyond. Curated by NYC-based veteran producer and promoter Alex Boicel, this debut edition of the festival will feature Guinean kora master Kandia Kora, Cote d’Ivoire’s afropop songstress Maaté Keïta, and Ghanian afro-rock band Wazumbians. The Mandingo Festival will take place on Monday, October 15th at SOB's (204 Varick St, New York, NY 10014).

Tickets Available HERE.

And don't forget to save the date for next year's Afromondo Showcase (6th edition), January 11th, 2024 at SOBs .

Kandia Kora was born in Conakry, Guinea in 1989, son of a long line of Mandingue griots, and younger brother to the legendary Sekou Kouyate. Trained as a traditional singer and kora player, Kora is the prodigal son who transforms the immortal, ancestral art of his family into modern afropop. Kandia Kora has worked with some of the finest musicians in Africa, such as Salif Keita, Taken Jah Fakoly, Sidiki Diabate, and the late, great Mory Kanté, with whom he toured regularly. Kandida is considered one of the best living kora players in Africa today. His music draws from a wealth of traditional styles, merging myriad West African styles — from ancient melodies to modern pop — with global influences, including reggae and Afro-American sounds. The surprising maturity of Kandia’s voice is the perfect counterpoint to the stunning virtuosity of his kora. dance.

Cote d’Ivoire’s Maaté Keïta first came to fame as one the founders and lead singers of famous ‘90s Ivorian girl group Les Go de Koteba (The Girls from Koteba ). In their heyday, Les Go de Koteba toured worldwide, including the US. When the group separated after the 2014 death of their mentor, Guinean director, choreographer, and producer Souleymane Koly, each girl went solo and pursued her own muses. Like the great Malian singer Salif Keita, Maate Keita came from a long line of hereditary griots and singers; but Maate was also attracted to dance and acting and eventually created her own theater company — building on the legacy and lessons of Koly’s famous theatrical group, which she also belonged to. Her 2017 album Baba solo is a classic of modern Afropop, and her performance at the 2018 MASA festival in Cote d’Ivoire is still talked about today. She is the subject of the 2023 documentary film, Maaté: Africa’s Mom, which explores her work and life with her musicians and drummers in France; and screened in NYC in May as part of the NY African Film Festival.

Wazumbians are a Ghanian afro-fusion group, dedicated to and focused on promoting African Culture through African rhythms, melodies, stories and dance. The group’s sound harks back to Ghanaian’s legendary afro-rock group Osibisa, one of the earliest pioneers of world music and afro-fusion. With musical direction from experienced producer Wazumbi, the band's music is a mixture of catchy tunes and ornamented rhythmic grooves. Wazumbians' music is also influenced by Salif Keita, Bob Marley, Fela Kuti and Lucky Dube. With such a wide array of influences, the group achieves a coherent, cohesive sound; carefully curated and shared open-heartedly with their live audiences. Much loved in their home city of Accra, Wazumbians have helped bring back a vibrant live music scene to their bustling city.

Alex Boicel, founder of Afromondo productions and Afromondo Festival, is one of the world’s leading independent promoters and the creative force behind many well-known festivals worldwide. Alex’s passion for music has fueled his decades long career as a producer, manager, and consultant, leading him to work with some of the greatest luminaries of the international entertainment industry where he has become known as an innovator. Over the years Alex has gained a wealth of experience and ingenuity which he infuses into all of his productions including his successful music television show, ‘Soul of Africa’, which ran for three years on the American cable channel BET J. ‘Soul of Africa’ featured music videos from the African Diaspora and was syndicated on VH1. He currently serves as artistic director and consultant for several international festivals as well as musical director of Farafina Café Harlem and curator for the world music series at the legendary Apollo Theater in Harlem, New York, where he is based.


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