Music of Benin

Dance of greeting, Benin, taken before 1969

Benin has played an important role in the African music scene, producing one of the biggest stars to come out of the continent in Angélique Kidjo. Post-independence, the country was home to a vibrant and innovative music scene, where native folk music combined with Ghanaian highlife, French cabaret, American rock, funk and soul, and Congolese rumba. It also has a rich variety of ethnomusicological traditions.

National music

The national anthem of Benin, adopted upon independence in 1960, is "L'Aube Nouvelle" (The New Dawn) by Gilbert Jean Dagnon. The Gangbe brass band is an internationally prominent Beninese ensemble.

Traditional music

The majority of Benin’s 9.32 million people live in the south. The population includes about 42 ethnic groups overall. These include coastal populations of Yoruba in the southeast, who migrated from what is now Nigeria in the 12th century, the Fon in the south central area around Abomey, Mina, Xueda and Aja who came from what is now Togo.

Northern peoples include the Dendi in the north-central area, who came from what is now Mali in the 16th century, the Bariba and Fula people in the northeast and the Betammaribe and Somba in the Atacora Range.

Popular music

Ignacio Blazio Osho was perhaps the most influential musician of the post-independence period, alongside Pedro Gnonnas y sus Panchos, Les Volcans and Picoby Band d'Abomey. Pedro produced the song Feso Jaiye,[1] which became a hit and was performed by many bands at the 2nd All-Africa Games in 1973.

In 1972, however, the Kérékou government came to power and instituted curfews and other measures that inhibited musical expression. Kérékou encouraged indigenous folk music. Some musicians, like Tohon Stan, adapted folk styles for mainstream audiences at home and abroad, including tchinkoumé, a funeral music played using water percussion which was adapted into tchink-system music.[2] Sagbohan Danialou, a multi-instrumentalist from Porto Novo, is another very influential musician who transformed traditional Vodou religious rhythms such as kakagbo into popular music.[3]

Nel Oliver who debuted in France in 1976. He took elements from all over Africa and the United States to create "Afro-akpala-funk".

The “Tout Puissant” Orchestre Poly-Rythmo are still a household name in Cotonou and one of Africa's most prolific groups with over 50 LPs, hundreds of 45s and CD re-issues of their work. They have toured both England and the United States; according to a concert review in the New York Times, the band "belongs on the very short list of the world's greatest funk bands."[4]

Beninese guitarist Lionel Loueke is one of the most important young musicians in jazz, infusing African influences. Loueke currently lives in New York and is a member of Herbie Hancock's band.

Zeynab Ouloukèmi Habib, born in Abidjan in 1975, has given concerts around Africa and won a Kora Award for Best Female West African Artist in 2005. She released her first album Intori in 2001, a second album D'un endroit à l'autre in 2004, and a third album Olukèmi in 2011.[5]

The last few decades of the 20th century saw numerous other developments, including the rise of reggae brought from Jamaica by Yaya Yaovi. In hip hop and R'n'B like the Projet Minwi-Flow and Afropop are mostly popularized by the artists: Swaggeraux and Swaggereuse Republic, Zeynab, King Jerry Bee a.k.a Kerekou De Showbiz, Yvan, Nila, Secteur Trema, Dibi Dobo, Pépé Oleka, Kuamy Mensah, Afafa, Diamant Noir, Cotonou City Crew, Ardiess, H2O, Dhalai-k, Kaysee Montejàno, LKS-Clan, Kaizah, Esprit Neg, Nasty Nesta, Mister Blaaz, Self Made Men, B-Syd, DAC, K-libr Volkaniq, Méthod X, Enod, Duce, Roccah, Jay Killah, Polo Orisha, Mutant, Adinon, Jupiter, 3K6, Kemtaan, 3 Game, CTN Heroes, Cyano-Gêne, ADN, 3e Monarchie, WP Baba Djèdjè, Orpair, Big C, Young J, Marshall Cyano, Wilf Enighma, Sam, Radama Z, Shinnin, E-ray, Cruiz AG, Sam Seed, Inox, BMG Yari, Fool' Faya, Mamba Noir, Beezy Baby, Eric le blanc, Assane Sas, Vision, All Baxx, Moona, Sakpata Boy, Trust Infinity Crew, Riacemau. For the zouk music we have : Richard Flash, Martin Hod, Miss Espoir. Gangbé Brass Band, from Cotonou continued the trajectory of transforming traditional Vodou music, combining it with jazz and brass band traditions.[6] Gangbe has released four albums: Gangbe (1998), Togbe (2001), Whendo (2004) and Assiko (2008), and tours extensively in Europe and North America.

See also


  1. Golden days highlife #13 "Feso jaiye" Check |url= value (help). Retrieved 30 March 2008.
  2. "the brothers gnonlonfoun vodun gangbe and jomion the uklos". Retrieved 2 February 2014.
  3. "nicolas moncadas orogod vodun and sagbohan danialou". Retrieved 2 February 2014.
  4. Pareles, Jon (July 12, 2010). "From West Africa, a Recipe for Spicy Trans-Atlantic Funk". New York Times. Retrieved July 10, 2012.
  5. "ZEYNAB, DU TALENT ET DES AMBITIONS.". Retrieved 15 July 2015.
  6. "Benin: Transforming traditions". Retrieved 30 January 2014.


External links

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