History of Benin Music

by 09/11/2012 12:17:00 0 comments 2811 Views

Benin has played an important role in the African music scene, producing one of the biggest stars to come out of the continent in Angélique Kidjo. Post-independence, the country was home to a vibrant and innovative music scene, where native folk music combined with Ghanaian highlife, French cabaret, American rock, funk and soul, and Congolese rumba. Ignacio Blazio Osho was perhaps the most influential musician of this period, alongside Pedro Gnonnas y sus Panchos, Les Volcans and Picoby Band d'Abomey. Pedro produced the song Feso Jaiye, which became a hit and was performed by many bands at the 2nd All-Africa Games in 1973.

In 1972, however, the Kérékou government came to power and instituted curfews and other measures that inhibited musical expression.

After Kérékou, the first musician to become a star was Nel Oliver, who debuted in France in 1976. His distinctive style took elements from all over Africa and the United States to create "Afro-akpala-funk". The last few decades of the 20th century saw numerous other developments, including the rise of reggae (brought from Jamaica by Yaya Yaovi) and hip hop (most popularized by Ardiess Posse), as well as a new wave of musicians, including Cella Stella, Africando, Ambroise Coffi Akoha, Bluecky d'Almeida and Angélique Kidjo.

Kérékou encouraged indigenous folk music. Some musicians, like Tohon Stan, adapted folk styles for mainstream audiences at home and abroad, including tchinkoumé, a funeral music played using water percussion which was adapted into tchink-system music.

The Gangbe brass band is an internationally-prominent Beninese ensemble.

Despite their relative obscurity outside of Benin, The “Tout Puissant” Orchestre Poly-Rythmo are still a household name in Cotonou and were one of the most prolific groups to ever exist in Africa with over 50 full-length LPs and hundreds of 45s. More recently, however, the group has begun to reach listeners internationally through CD re-issues of their work. As a result of this increased exposure, they have in recent years toured both England and the United States; according to a concert review in the New York Times, the band "belongs on the very short list of the world's greatest funk bands."

Beninese guitarist Lionel Loueke is one of the most important young musicians in jazz, successfully fusing African influences with modern jazz. Loueke currently lives in New York and is a member of Herbie Hancock's band.

In 1994, a young artist decided to make professional music. Zeynab Ouloukèmi Abiba, born in Abidjan, has been proven through various albums and singles. In 2001, Zeynab released "Intore" her first album. In 2002 she released Rhythm and blues, a bridge between RnB and Beninese culture. Zeynab Abib has had concerts, invitations outside of Benin, and a Kora trophy nomination. Zeynab released a second album "From one location to another" comprising 14 tracks.