[29 January 2009]
PopMatters Editor & Publisher
Staff Benda Bilili croon beautiful harmonies accompanied by spare but perfectly suited instrumentation. This Congolese group of street musicians is comprised four elderly singer/guitarists and a young rhythm section, highlighted by a 17-year-old player of the one-string electric lute that he constructed himself from a tin can. These are musicians of extremely humble means who create startling warm and vital music from the barest of resources. Making their story even more poignant is that these artists are paraplegics and polio victims. It’s a compelling story for sure, but the music is superb enough to speak for itself. Crammed Discs will release Staff Benda Bilili’s debut in the US on April 7th. In the meantime, check out the first video, “Polio”, and a short documentary about the group.