Africa’s new and improved sounds

Congolese singer and songwriter Pierre Kwanders will also perform at ‘Africa Now’ concert.
Iris Maenza

They’re back with the Motherland’s newest sounds.

The yearly music event celebrating the trendiest and popular sounds to come out of the African continent returns to Apollo Theater on March 3. The “Africa Now” concert spotlights African artists and the emerging sounds they are bringing to the African music scene. Organized by the famed theater and the World Music Institute, together they are giving the stage to show, said the co-curator.

“The show is specifically about showcasing what is happening right now in African music, and the contemporary trends in African music,” said Par Neiburger, the artistic director of World Music Institute.

He says a show dedicated to what is in the now in African music, will help audiences that tend to imagine the more traditional-leaning music of Africa, with the current.

“When one thinks about African music that is international music or world music, often times that tends to lend itself to the traditional art forms or folkloric forms of African music,” said Neiburger. “Youssou N’Dour and Fela Kuti, — they are great artists but they are mostly known for playing their traditional African music forms.”

But the show is designed to give people the experience of what Africans are listening to back home and who are the people making those shifts in the various genres.

“On one hand you’ll get to know what are people in Africa listening to right now, and not from the western audience perception, but what also artists are taking African music to new territory,” he added.

German and Nigerian singer Ayo, is one of the six artists that will perform at “Africa Now.”
Julien Mignot

Six bands and artists from various parts of the continent will be performing at the Pan-African show — most of whom are artists exploring electronic music. One in particular is South African deejay Black Coffee, who will make his Apollo debut and a good choice to the lineup, said Neiburger.

“We came up with idea that we wanted to focus on contemporary trends, electronic music, and who’s doing that, and one of the first names to come up was Black Coffee — a mega superstar in house music,” he said. “He’s a very well known outside of South Africa and having him at the Apollo is going to be unique .”

Other artists to perform are Ayo, Pierre Kwenders, and a duo performance between Jeff Mills and Tony Allen — the famous drummer in Fela Kuti’s band, Africa ‘70.

Neiburger adds that shifting what people commonly think of when it comes to African music, will help introduce the world to the new sounds talents are coming with, and this is an annual celebration of all of the continents premier music that people love.

“It’s a special event with unique and different artists, and the lineup this year and very forward thinking,” he said. “It’s a great experience every single year — I’ve had a lot of people come and anytime people are there for the first time an they ask ‘Why haven’t I been coming every year?’ ”

“Africa Now” at Apollo Theater [253 W 125th St. between Frederick Douglass and Adam Clayton Powell boulevards in Harlem, (212) 531-5300,]. March 3 at 8 pm. $25-65.

Reach reporter Alexandra Simon at (718) 260–8310 or e-mail her at asimo[email protected]
South African deejay Black Coffee is making his New York debut at the annual “Africa Now” music concert at Apollo Theater on March 3.

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