Massukos' music preserves the traditional rhythms of Niassa province that were all but extinct after 17 years of civil war, and their first live public performance in 1994 coincided with the start of the peace process. Many of Mozambique's musicians and artists had fled the country during the war and the band set out to capture and spread their long-established musical heritage. They sing in the three common traditional languages - Yao, Nyanga and Makua.
The group's reputation grew and their music soon captivated international audiences. They made their first international trip in 1998 to perform at the EXPO 98 in Lisbon, Portugal. Their first CD Kuimba kwa Massuko (recorded in 2001) achieved phenomenal domestic sales and sealed their success. Voted best album in 2002, it won a gold disc in 2003. Later that year they were voted best group in Mozambique and they then went on to win the International Prize for Water at the Cannes Water Symposium. In 2004 they appeared at the Third World Water Forum in Japan and in the same year they toured with the UK band Empty Boat as part of an awareness-raising event organized by Poo Productions in association with WaterAid UK.
The Year of Africa/UK Tour:
The next chapter in Massukos' story was in 2005, the designated "year of Africa" when Poo Productions invited them to join the celebrations in the UK. During their eventful stay, they played before 100,000+ at the Make Poverty History Rally in Edinburgh, recorded their latest album Bumping and performed live on the BBC London 94.9 Charlie Gillett show and on Resonance FM. Other high-profile gigs included BBC Africa Live at the British Museum and UNICEF Children's C8 conference in Dunblane. Events around the UK at this time were focussing on Africa, in a bid to influence the world leaders at the G8 Conference in Gleneagles. Massukos brought their own pertinent message about the challenges being faced in their own country. The band's founder, Feliciano dos Santos, had the opportunity to discuss the hardships of life in Mozambique with Gordon Brown MP and Sir Bob Geldof. He also presented a petition to Tony Blair at 10 Downing Street on behalf of WaterAid to reinforce the UN Millennium Development Goals pertaining to water and sanitation. The film, The Big Shout, was shot whilst Massukos were on their UK tour.
Return to the UK for WOMAD 2007:
In July 2007, Massukos released their second album Bumping and returned to the UK. The highlight of their visit was a gig at the world-famous music festival WOMAD, which was recorded by Andy Kershaw for BBC Radio 3. Other events included two London gigs and a number of radio interviews, including an acoustic set and an in-depth interview with DJ Ritu for BBC Radio London 94.9. From the big name world music DJ's to the broadsheet music critics all the right people were saying all the right things about this Mozambiquan sensation.
Glastonbury & the UK Festival Circuit
In June of 2008, Massukos paid their third visit to the UK bringing with them their new female vocalist, Merce Nambale. From high profile festivals such as Glastonbury and Africa Oye to smaller, African-centric focused evenings, radio appearances and school workshops, the month-long schedule was hectic and varied with events happening almost every day. The band were joined by various other guest artists including a brass section with Dean Brodrick of Empty Boat (accordion), Julian Nicholas (saxophone) and Chris Bachelor (trumpet). Dancers Nelson Neves and Funmi Adewole performed at the key events and were aptly described by critics as "electric".
Highlights of the tour included Massukos' headline performance at Rhythms of the World Festival, the gig in the Ginglik, an (ex-public) toilet in West London, a workshop at St Bede's secondary school and an appearance on Radio 4 Loose Ends which was followed by lunch in the pub with Clive Anderson and Paul Daniels. Glastonbury too - of course! It was also great to be back in the studio with Charlie Gillett (World on 3, Radio 3) and DJ Ritu (World in London, BBC Radio London) where Massukos aired some of their new material. The tour was partly funded by the Arts Council England.
(from their website http://www.massukos.com/background.html)
- 2001: Kuimba kwa Massuko
- 2005: Bumping
- Feliciano dos Santos: composer, vocals and acoustic guitar
- Simão Ribeiro Fontes: composer, vocals and hand drums
- Nuno Miguel Militar Antonio: composer, vocals and electric guitar
- Merce Manuel Nambale: vocals
- Dionísio Robat: bass guitar
- Mbedo Luis Benjamin Lingundo: drum kit
- Manuel Williamo Dihuaia: spade, hand drums
- Carlos Alvaro Socrates: keyboards, acoustic guitar
To listen to "Bumping": http://www.myspace.com/massukos
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