Africa Oyé, the UK’s biggest free festival of music and culture from Africa and the Diaspora, has revealed the latest wave of acts ahead of the festival next month.
Over the last few years, Akala has emerged from London’s hip hop underground and into the mainstream as one of the leaders of a new British artistic renaissance. Bursting into the scene in 2004, he made history by being the first unsigned artist to have a video appear on MTV UK’s ‘TRL’ show. 2006 saw his first album ‘It’s Not A Rumour’ drop with trance-sampling smash single ‘Shakespeare’ being play-listed and championed on BBCs Radio 1. The album received critical acclaim and earned Akala the ‘Best Hip Hop Artist’ award at the 2006 MOBO awards.
Reflecting the disorder and flux of contemporary life, the award-winning hip hop artist, writer, poet and educator will bring some lyrical storytelling to the Oyé Stage.
Wesli was born in Haiti and lives in Montréal. He’s a singer, multi-instrumentalist, composer, producer but especially, an outstanding guitarist. When he was eight, he built himself his first guitar out of an old oil can and a nylon shoe lace and he has been creating original music ever since.Wesli sings in French, Haitian Creole and in English as well. He mixes reggae, afrobeat, hip-hop, soul and traditional Haitian music. His festive, lively and committed music has been rewarded with several prizes and earned him a worldwide renown.
Baloji, or ‘sorcerer’ in Swahili, is an acclaimed multi-faceted artist born in the DR Congo. After the release of his album Hotel Impala (2008), this poet, composer-lyricist/beatmaker, scriptwriter, actor and performer, video artist and stylist is back with the new EP, 64 bits & Malachite. His music stands at the crossroads of African music, rap music, the French singer-songwriter tradition, Afro-American music (soul, funk, jazz) and electronic music (trance, deep).
Accompanied by L’Orchestre de la Katuba, Baloji will perform a show that combines live programming loops, electro synths and traditional rumba sound lead by Dizzy Mandjeku (legendary guitarist of Franco/OK Jazz, Tabu Ley Rochereau) while continuing to serve politically and entertaining, uplifting dance music.
Born in the island of São Vicente (the same place where Cesária Évora, Tito Paris and B.Leza were born), Bilan always had music in his family. In 1999 he moved from his hometown in Cape Verde to Portugal to study. The first fifteen years of his new life were spent in Oporto where he recorded his first two albums (Ar/Água and Sur le Niger – a live collaboration with the Malian Kora player Sidiki Diabaté) resulting in several years of concerts around Portugal and playing with musicians from several origins and musical styles. After moving to Lisbon, Bilan was invited to some of the trendiest groups of the new music scene including Meu Kamba and Cachupa Psicadélica. In 2016 he was one of the chosen artists to showcase in the Atlantic Music Expo in his home country. Despite the distance from his island, Bilan always keeps track with the new perspectives of the Cape Verdian music scene and blends them with his other influences such as Brazilian music, Blues, Indie and Afrobeat which will be present in his new album release in 2016.
Now in its 24th year, Africa Oyé attracted record crowds of around 80,000 in 2015 to the two-day, family friendly city event. Already announced for the festival are DR Congo’s genre-bending Mbongwana Star, Ghanian highlife legend Pat Thomas & Kwashibu Area Band and kora pioneer, Sona Jobarteh.
The main stage acts will be complemented by the usual eclectic ‘Oyé Village’ featuring an array of foods from across the globe, traders, DJs, dance classes and workshops in the Active Zone, as well as kids entertainment to keep Sefton Park buzzing throughout the festival weekend.
Artistic Director, Paul Duhaney said of the latest reveal “Wesli was someone we looked at bringing to Liverpool in the past but travel issues held us back, so I’m really pleased to confirm him for this year’s event. Baloji is another exciting, genre-mixing act that I know the audience are going to love and Bilan is someone I had the pleasure of seeing perform in Cape Verde at this year’s Atlantic Music Expo. And to round off the announcement with a performer of Akala’s stature is fantastic – one of the most important British rappers of the last decade.”
Africa Oyé will take place on 18th and 19th June in Sefton Park, from 12:30pm until 9:30pm both days. Entrance is FREE for all. For more information, please visit africaoye.com