Habari Africa Festival in Toronto!Posted: August 14, 2016
After a baking-hot day on Friday, August 12th – when the temperature reached 36 degrees celsius here in Toronto – the logical place to cool down at sunset was lakeside for the Habari Africa Festival where African singers and musicians – now based in Canada – sang and played for us from the outdoor stage by the water.
Malian “griotte” (female story-teller and praise-singer) – and current Montrealer – DJELY TAPA performed a rousing set with her three band members, one of whom accompanied her in a lilting song on his “kora”. Her brother translated from her French introduction the importance of the message of Une Chanson Contre La Violence Contre Les Femmes (A Song against Violence against Women).
Congolese singer BLANDINE MBIYA sang in French and Lingala, and was accompanied by Cour des Grands, veteran Congolese musicians (now living in Montreal) who paid tribute to great 1960s-70s “orchestres” of the Congo “rumba” tradition (Tabu Ley, Papa Wemba, OK Jazz). Mbiya’s voice was tender and sexy – and very sweet in tone! She bantered in English with the audience in between songs – sounding uncannily like Jennifer Lopez when she speaks.
Habari Africa Festival is one of those events we look forward to – when it’s summer in Toronto! Those of us who love musical variety and discovery are grateful to Batuki Music Society founder Nadine McNulty – and to every supporter and partner, including Harbourfront Centre – for making it all happen, down by the Lake!