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Oliver Ngoma: The Legend of Afro-Zouk Music
If you love African music, you have probably heard of Oliver Ngoma, the Gabonese singer and guitarist who popularized the genre of Afro-Zouk in the late 1980s and 1990s. His song "Bane" became a huge hit across Africa, France, and the French West Indies, and is still considered a classic party anthem. But who was Oliver Ngoma, and what is Afro-Zouk music? In this article, we will explore the life and work of this talented artist, as well as the musical style that he helped create and spread. We will also show you how to download his songs for free, so you can enjoy his music anytime, anywhere.
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Who was Oliver Ngoma?
Oliver Ngoma (his true name Olivier N'Goma), nicknamed "Noli", was born in Mayumba, a small town in south-west Gabon, on March 23, 1959. He was one of the most famous and influential African musicians of his generation, known for his fusion of Zouk, Soukous, and Afropop styles. He released four albums in his career: Bane (1990), Adia (1995), Seva (2001), and Saga (2006). He died on June 7, 2010, in Libreville, Gabon, after suffering from kidney failure for two years.
Early life and musical influences
Oliver Ngoma's father was a teacher and a harmonium player, who introduced him to music at an early age. He learned to play the harmonium and the guitar by himself, and started performing for audiences when he was 12 years old. He moved to Libreville to attend school, where he joined a band called Capo Sound. He studied accounting, but his passion was music and cinema. He got a job as a cameraman with Gabon TV, who sent him to France in 1988 for training.
Career and achievements
While in Paris, Oliver Ngoma recorded some demo tapes of his songs, which he shared with Manu Lima, a renowned producer from Cape Verde. Lima was impressed by his music and agreed to produce his first album, Bane. The album was released in 1990 and became an instant success, thanks to the catchy title track that blended Zouk rhythms with Soukous guitar riffs. The song was played on radio stations across Africa, France, and the French West Indies, and sold over a million copies. Oliver Ngoma became a star overnight, and toured extensively in Africa and Europe.
His second album, Adia, came out in 1995, again with the collaboration of Manu Lima. The album featured more diverse influences, such as Reggae, R&B, and Makossa. The song "Adia" was featured in the film Beau Travail by Claire Denis. His third album, Seva, was released in 2001, without Lima's involvement. The album had a more acoustic sound, with less synthesizers and more guitars. His fourth and final album, Saga, was released in 2006, after he reunited with Lima. The album had a more modern production, with elements of Hip Hop and Dancehall.
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Oliver Ngoma won several awards for his music, including the Kora Award for Best Central African Artist in 1997 and 2001. He also collaborated with other artists such as Monique Seka from Ivory Coast, Lokua Kanza from Congo, Tshala Muana from Congo-Kinshasa , Meiway from Ivory Coast , Ismael Lo from Senegal Death and legacy
Oliver Ngoma was diagnosed with kidney failure in 2008, and had to undergo dialysis regularly. He continued to make music and perform until his health deteriorated. He died on June 7, 2010, at the age of 51, in Libreville. His funeral was attended by thousands of fans and dignitaries, who paid tribute to his contribution to African music and culture. His songs are still played and loved by millions of people around the world, who remember him as the legend of Afro-Zouk music.
What is Afro-Zouk music?
Afro-Zouk is a musical genre that combines elements of Zouk, a style of dance music from the French West Indies, with African rhythms and melodies. It is also known as Zouk-Love, Zouk-Chiré, or Zouk-Rétro. It is characterized by a slow tempo, a smooth groove, and romantic lyrics. It is popular in many African countries, especially in West and Central Africa, as well as in France and the Caribbean.
Origins and characteristics of Zouk music
Zouk music originated in the late 1970s and early 1980s in Guadeloupe and Martinique, two French overseas territories in the Caribbean. It was influenced by various musical genres, such as Cadence-Lypso from Dominica, Compas from Haiti, Soca from Trinidad and Tobago, Calypso from Trinidad and Tobago , Biguine from Martinique , Gwo Ka from Guadeloupe , and Makossa from Cameroon. It was also inspired by American and European styles, such as Funk, Disco, Rock, Pop, and Reggae.
The word "Zouk" means "party" or "festival" in Creole, and reflects the festive and lively spirit of the music. The main instruments used in Zouk music are electric guitars, bass guitars, keyboards, synthesizers, drum machines, and horns. The vocals are usually sung in French or Creole, with harmonies and choruses. The songs often have catchy hooks and refrains that make them easy to sing along.
African adaptations and innovations of Zouk music
Zouk music spread to Africa in the mid-1980s, thanks to the success of Kassav', a band from Guadeloupe that is considered the pioneer of Zouk music. Kassav' toured extensively in Africa and collaborated with African artists such as Youssou N'Dour from Senegal , Salif Keita from Mali , Tabu Ley Rochereau from Congo-Kinshasa , Manu Dibango from Cameroon , Mory Kanté from Guinea , and Cesaria Evora from Cape Verde . Their songs were also played on radio stations and nightclubs across the continent.
African musicians adapted Zouk music to their own cultures and languages, creating new variations and subgenres. They also added more traditional instruments, such as balafons, djembes, congas, marimbas, flutes, and kora. Some of the African subgenres of Zouk music are:
Afro-Zouk: The most common form of Zouk music in Africa, which blends Zouk rhythms with Soukous guitar riffs and Afropop melodies. Oliver Ngoma is one of the most famous Afro-Zouk artists.
Cabo-Zouk: A form of Zouk music that originated in Cape Verde in the late 1980s. It mixes Zouk beats with Coladeira melodies and Funaná rhythms. Suzanna Lubrano is one of the most popular Cabo-Zouk artists.
Kizomba: A form of Zouk music that originated in Angola in the late 1980s. It combines Zouk grooves with Semba rhythms and Portuguese lyrics. It is also a dance style that involves close body contact and sensual movements. Anselmo Ralph is one of the most famous Kizomba artists.
Zoblazo: A form of Zouk music that originated in Ivory Coast in the early 1990s. It incorporates Zouk elements with traditional Ivorian rhythms such as Ziglibithy , Agbadja , Gbégbé , Akwaba , Bété , Baoulé , Mandingue , Malinké , Dan , Gouro , Sénoufo , Wobé , Yacouba , Attié , Ebrié , Abidji , Abouré , Abidji , Abouré , Abidji . Meiway is one of the most famous Zoblazo artists.
Popular Afro-Zouk artists and songs
There are many Afro-Zouk artists and songs that have made an impact on the African music scene and beyond. Here are some of the most popular ones:
Bane, Adia, Icole, Fely, Lusa, Nge, Nelly, Saga
Okaman, Missounwa, Yaye Demin, Adeba, Yélélé, Bayé, Oké Byé
Wapi Yo, Shadow Dancer, Nakozonga, Liteya, Famille, Plus Vivant, Mutoto
Mutuashi, Malu, Lekela Muadi, Cicatrice D'Amour, Dezo Dezo, Tshibola, Africa Mokili Mobimba
Zoblazo, 200%, Miss Lolo, Golgotha, Rouler Moutou, DJ Tassouman, Ma Folie
Festa Mascarado, Tudo Pa Bo, Fofo, Nha Sonho, Saida, Recorda Passado, Pensa Na Mi
Não Me Toca, Curtição, A Dor