Anyone who walks out onto any stage – in Paris, or London, or Madrid, Melbourne, Mumbai and Osaka – is now in the front line of a battle. Music itself is on the front line. Take courage. We’ve got to win. The alternative is too bleak to contemplate: a life without joy, relief, togetherness. A life without music.
If the master plan succeeds, Mbongwana Star could become the Trojan Horse that penetrates the bastion of the world’s indifference (and revulsion and paranoia) and lifts the curse to bring that creative power out of rue Kato, the Beaux Arts, and other parts of Kinshasa. “The Beaux Arts is like a town within a town,” says Renaud. “Mbongwana Star has started rehearsing there and there’s a correlation with visual artists, stylists, people working on logos etc. It’s this kind of electric movement, this new vibe in Kinshasa that we’re trying to mix in with the music and the image.”
My 2014 photoshoot of Songhoy Blues in the Laffiabougou district of the Malian capital, Bamako, which yielding the cover shot of their hit debut ‘Music in Exile’.
What’s more extraordinary however is Bombino’s fame at home. He’s become a bona fide head-turning airtime-hogging star in his own country, not just amongst the Touareg, who mainly live in Niger’s northern deserts, but amongst the youth of the entire nation. That’s something that no other Touareg artists has ever managed to do, not even Tinariwen.