History of Sierra Leone Music

by 09/11/2012 10:39:00 0 comments 1233 Views

Sierra Leone's music is a mixture of native and French, British, and Krio influences. Palm wine is representative, and is played by an acoustic guitar with percussion in countries throughout coastal West Africa. Palm wine, the drink, is the source of the name of the music and the clubs where it was both drunk and played.


Sierra Leonean palm wine music is known as maringa, and it was first popularized by Ebenezer Calendar & His Maringar Band, who used styles that came from freed slaves from the Caribbean, especially Trinidadian calypso. Calendar's most popular song was "Double-Decker Bus", which was commissioned by Decca to promote the launching of a double-decker bus line. Calendar was a skilled instrumentalist who played the guitar, trumpet, mandolin and the cornet. Calendar eventually moved towards socially and spiritually aware lyrics, while also penning some of the most oft-played songs in Sierra Leonean music in the 1950s and 60s.


Gumbe (goombay), a genre more closely associated with the music of West Africa, has also had a long presence in the form of milo-jazz. Milo-jazz is a distinctly Sierra Leonean style named for a brand of chocolate powder, empty cans of which were filled with stones to form a core percussion instrument of the genre. Dr.Olo is the most widely-acknowledged innovator of milo-jazz.


Beginning in the 1970s, rumba, Congolese music, funk and soul combined to formed a popular kind of Afropop. Major bands of this era included Sabannoh 75, Orchestra Muyei, Super Combo and the Afro-National. Sierra Leoneans abroad have created their own styles, such as Seydu, Ansoumana Bangura, Abdul Tee-Jay, Bosca Banks, Daddy Rahmanu, Patricia Bakarr and Sidike Diabate and Mwana Musa's African Connexion .


Sierra Leone, just like much of West Africa is experiencing a change in its popular music culture. Western style Rap, Reggae, Dancehall, R&B, and Grime (music) have begun to have an impact on the new music generation of Liberia. The wars and civil conflict throughout West Africa , have resulted in a decrease in the presence of the traditional music artists.One of the newest celebrities to emerge out of Sierra Leone is new Urban artist iGniTer also known as "Lj". The internet and spread of wesern culture has encouraged the youth, of countries like Sierra Leone, to express themselves through new styles of music. Many of these songs have had political and social themes in them and have played a role in informing the populace and checking politicians. The independent film, Sweet Salone, displays many of these artists, fans, and their music. There was also Mwana Musa (aka Musa Kalamulah) and African Connexion who married Sierra Leone, Congolese and Jazz rhythms to his music. The Band African Connexion was signed to Charlie Gillet's Oval Records and produced C'est La Danse, Moziki, City Limits and Midnight Pressure (Oval 28/12)and also Dancing On The Sidewalk a soca tinged soukous and E Sidom Panam typical Sierra Leone dance music. Mwana Musa was an able composer who worked with musicians such as David Toop, Steve Beresford, Ray Carless, Ugo Delmirani, Robin Jones, Mongoley (Lipua Lipua) Safroman (GO Malebo)Len Jones one of Sierra Leones finest guitarists, Lindel Lewis, Ayo-Roy MAcauley leading guitarist from Sierra Leone, Kevin Robinson, Paapa Jay-Mensah etc.