Venerable marrabenta vocalist
It’s been a long old trawl for Humberto Carlos Benfica – the singer better known as Wazimbo. Now in his 70th year, the Mozambican started out in the 1960s, singing the international hits of the day in the bars and hotels of the capital Maputo, then known as Lourenço Marques. These were the times of Portuguese colonial rule when native Mozambican music was suppressed. Then in 1975, after a decade-long war, came independence, allowing artistic expression to flourish. The dominant music was marrabenta, a style that fused folk traditions and local dance rhythms. From the late 1970s onwards, Wazimbo was the singer with the legendary Orchestra Marrabenta Star de Moçambique, before taking that breathy, unmistakably southern African voice and becoming a solo artist of note. His signature song, Nwahulwana – aka ‘Night Bird’ – was used on the Sean Penn film The Pledge. As Wazimbo himself says, “we don’t want our music to reach Mozambique only”.
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