I’ve been listening to African music since I was a kid, and it’s definitely my favorite type of music. The lyrics are so unique and beautiful, and the melodies are unlike anything else you’ll hear in pop or hip-hop or even world music (which is really just an umbrella term for everything other than American pop). It’s hard to narrow down exactly which artists are my favorites because there are so many amazing ones out there! Here are just 10 of them who inspire me every time I listen:
King Sunny Ade
King Sunny Ade is a Nigerian musician and composer best known for his use of Yoruba language in his songs. He is also the founder of the Juju music genre, which incorporates traditional percussion instruments like drums and bells alongside electric guitars and synthesizers.
Ade was born on September 15th, 1934 in Abeokuta Nigeria to parents who were both musicians themselves; his father was a guitarist while his mother played piano at parties throughout Nigeria’s western region during World War II when there wasn’t enough money to buy food so they used their talents instead! When he was five years old he began learning how to play percussion instruments such as congas & bongos from an older cousin named “Tunde”. After that he took up guitar lessons from another relative named “Ayo” who taught him some basic chords before moving onto trumpet playing when he got older because it had less strings than guitars (remember: back then only rich people could afford these things).
Ladysmith Black Mambazo
Ladysmith Black Mambazo is a South African vocal group that sings in the Xhosa language. The group was formed in 1960, and has been performing ever since.
Ladysmith Black Mambazo was formed by Joseph Shabalala, who had previously sung with Ladysmith Jazz Ensemble. When he left the jazz ensemble, he began to develop his own style of music: gospel music mixed with traditional Zulu sounds and rhythms. He named the group after his hometown of Ladysmith (now known as Umzimkulu). At first there were only four members; over time it grew into an eight-member ensemble that included both men and women singers as well as dancers from different parts of South Africa such as Transkei, Venda and Xhosa territories
Hugh Masekela is a South African musician and composer, who is best known for his trumpet playing. He was born in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa on 4 April 1939. Growing up in poverty, he learned to play music from his mother and father who were both musicians themselves. In the 1950s he joined the jazz band The Jazz Epistles before going solo with his own band Hugh Masekela & His Calypso Band in 1961 where they toured America and Europe extensively until 1965 when they disbanded after recording their last album titled “Mabhida”.
After touring with various bands around Europe and America again during 1966 – 1967; Hugh decided to move back home because he felt there weren’t enough opportunities left for him outside South Africa yet due to apartheid laws at that time preventing non-whites from working freely within those countries’ borders without restrictions imposed by white people only being allowed certain jobs which meant less money coming into circulation as well as fewer chances of success being made available for black artists like himself who might have wanted something different than just playing music all day every day but couldn’t afford any other options unless someone else helped them out financially first before anything else could happen realistically!
Makeba was a singer, actor and political activist. She was known as the “Mama Africa” and her song Pata Pata is one of the most popular songs in Africa. Makeba was born in 1932 in Johannesburg and grew up singing traditional music with her father who had been a singer himself before he died when she was young.
She began performing at local clubs while working as an elevator operator in Johannesburg’s main post office building and eventually became one of South Africa’s first black female singers on radio stations like Radio Zulu Nation where she sang traditional songs alongside Mahlathini & The Mahotella Queens band which later became famous for its own brand of township jazz music called mbaqanga (mbaqa meaning “to carry”).
Kotoja was a South African mbira player who was born in Zimbabwe, but moved to South Africa in the 1960s. He played with Paul Simon on his Graceland album and died in 2006.
Dorothy Masuka is a South African jazz and soul singer, known for her powerful voice. She has won several awards and released several albums, including the critically acclaimed “Lioness” (1995), which earned her a SAMA nomination for Best Female Vocalist. Masuka is an icon of the South African music scene, having performed with artists like Hugh Masekela and Miriam Makeba during apartheid rule when it was illegal for black artists to perform with whites in public venues.
In addition to being an excellent performer who has released many popular albums over her 30-year career as a professional musician, Dorothy Masuka is also an advocate against violence against women in South Africa; she founded Dorothy’s House charity organization after losing her husband due to domestic abuse when they were still dating!
Brenda Fassie was an iconic South African singer and activist who had a big influence on the music industry. She was known for her powerful voice, which she used to sing about social issues like HIV/AIDS and domestic violence.
She was also a trailblazer in using technology to reach her fans: she started her own radio station in 1996 (the first black-owned radio station) and released an album that same year titled The Best of Brenda Fassie: 20 Years of Hits, which sold over 2 million copies worldwide.
Brenda Ngxoli was a South African singer and actress. She was one of the first black South African women to become famous in the music industry.
Ngxoli was born in Cape Town and died in Johannesburg at age 69 on February 27, 2007 after suffering from cancer for several months.
Arthur Mafokate and other Cape Flats artists like Zandile Mkhize, Sibongile Khumalo and Bhekutshe Seiphemo.
I like to think of these artists as the “Cape Flats” school of painting, because they all come from that area. They’re some of my favorites, and it’s hard to pick one over another. I’m going to go with Arthur Mafokate and other Cape Flats artists like Zandile Mkhize, Sibongile Khumalo and Bhekutshe Seiphemo.
African music is so much more than just Africa
African music is a global phenomenon. It’s not just about Africa, or even the present day. It has roots that go back thousands of years and it continues to evolve today with artists like Fuse ODG, who blends traditional Ghanaian sounds with western pop music.
I’m so happy to have had the opportunity to share these artists with you. They are all great, but they also represent all the different styles of African music that exist today. There’s really something for everyone here!