Festivale de Football Day 28: Togo

Another toughie today, to some extent. Rather than look for something crazy and interesting today though, I think I'm going to head down the straightforward route and pick a well-known artist. Instead of Togo's biggest export (Bella Bellow) or the excellently named Jimi Hope (Joanna!), I'm going with maybe the third most well-known musical act in Togo, so maybe 'well-known' is stretching the definition a little... Saying this, I'm going to contradict myself again and say that King Mensah has received some serious international accolades over the last few years - variously described as being the "Golden Voice Of Togo" or, better yet, "the best singing voice of all time, King Mensah can today justly claim to be one of the biggest stars in African music.

And what do you know, turns out they're not over-rating his voice. If you were to imagine Youssou N'dour with a purer, even more confident style. It's high and sweet, but still has sufficient resonance to carry over the pretty acoustic backing of his band.

If you were to peruse Google and stumble across Mensah's ArtistDirect profile you would find him listed, curiously enough, as a reggae artist. There's little to connect Mensah with reggae however, and the sound is very much a francophone West African traditional/pop sound - a very smooth acoustic shuffle with djembes and flutes. From his beginnings performing in Abidjan theatres, he's progressed (via most of the rest of the world, it seems) to his fairly exalted status now and seems to have cemented a signature sound to match his unmistakable voice. So good on him.

King Mensah - Nana Benz
King Mensah - Amen

And just to add a little variety, the Lion Of Cameroon, Manu Dibango plays here with Bella Bellow, and you can also find Togo posts by Burning Oak, Benn Loxo Du Taccu and Call Me Mickey.

Manu Dibango & Bella Bellow - Dasiko

Buy Togolese music here
Buy King Mensah/Bella Bellow/Manu Dibango

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CIA Factbook: Togo

1 comment:

Rachel said...

His voice echo's with soul. And your right I don't know why they label this reggae...The only thing that might have a little association would be his voice, but even then it is really not even close.

But I enjoyed this so much. his voice is really quite beautiful especially along side those dancing flutes. Thanks for the introduction. :)