I've always loved the feel and the sound of Salsa, Merengue, Rumba, Bachata and the like but I never got INTO it. I mean as a kid I wasn't really INTO my own music (Kompas and Ya Miziki Ya Congo respectively) so I wasn't exactly about to dive headfirst into Latin American music. As I (re)discover Congolese music and it's roots I find myself getting more and more into Latin American music. It is no wonder why there is a connection between the music in Latin America and that of what some call "Congolese Afro Pop" (I'm going to keep a tally of how many different names for Congolese music I come across lol). As Guy stated on the show last night, there is the matter of language. Lingala as a language seems to fit the rhythm of Rumba the way Spanish does. Guy admits on the show last night that when he first stepped off the plane at age 12 with his family and he heard the people speaking Lingala he could have sworn it WAS Spanish. The influence of the Portuguese on the language are probably to 'blame'.
And of course there is the matter of rhythm that traveled with the enslaved Africans that found themselves in the Americas, only to find its way back to Africa through radio waves and Cuban hotel lounge singers. The Congolese who fell in love with Cuban Rumba took on the music so naturally. It doesn't sound out of place at all to hear early Grand Kalle et African Jazz next to say...Celia Cruz. Although she is known as a Cuban Salsa singer I bring her up for good reason...
It's gonna sound silly but I remember distinctly first seeing Celia Cruz on Sesame Street as a child. And although I was never a true fan of her music I was always a fan of HERS and was always pleased to see her on television. She's the only big STAR of Latin American music that I really am familiar with (aside from Tito Puente, whom I was acquainted with through an episode of The Cosby Show).
It was recently brought to my attention that Celia Cruz performed in Kinshasa in 1974 in the huge concert held for one of the biggest fights in the history of boxing, most famously known as The Rumble In The Jungle.
Muhammed Ali and George Foreman weren't the only show in town that October. Big American stars like James Brown and Ike & Tina Turner were there as well as local superstars like Franco & OK Jazz. Also present were Hector Lavoe and The Fania All-Stars who accompanied Celia Cruz.
Here is some footage from You Tube that I found of the concert. Honestly to see the Puerto Rican band and Cuban songstress exchange energy with the African crowd was so beautiful to me I had to blog about it. It is a live reel full of the fantastic sounds of a people returning home and their family welcoming them.
I leave you with Le Grand Kalle et L'African Jazz's version of Guantanamera
R.I.P. Celia Cruz and Hector Lavoe...
Until next time...PEACE