Bibi Tanga and the Selenites—Bright New African Soul Grooves, Leavened With Whitman's Leaves of Grass!

Written by

Bibi Tanga has a great new cd out, called 40 Degrees of Sunshine.  It’s on the National Geographic’s label, Nat Geo, and I think it’s their most exciting release to date.

His band, The Selenites, were named (most probably) not after the chemical compound but rather after the insect-like moon creatures in H.G. Wells’ 1904 sci-fi romance The First Men on the Moon.

I’ve been playing the first song on the album, “Poet of the Soul”, a massive, catchy dance groove.  Little did I know that the lyrics come from a poem by the great 19th century American poet Walt Whitman.   Those very words came from Whitman’s great 1860 spiritual & poetic manifesto, Leaves of Grass:  “I Am the Poet of the Body and I Am the Poet of the Soul”.  With poems like “I Sing the Body Electric” and “Song of Myself”, Leaves of Grass was to become the Bible of American poetry.  There had never been a poetic proclamation so bold or so modern in the 19th century, and Whitman’s verses are today as contemporary and compelling as ever.  What a way for an African musician to open up his new cd on!

I also didn’t know that Bienvenu (welcome) “Bibi” was born in the landlocked Central African Republic, that his dad was a diplomat who shuttled his family back and forth from Africa to Paris to Washington D.C.    Fitting with this international upbringing, Bibi sings in three languages, English, French, and Sango, the Central African language.

Poet of the Soul 1

It’s exciting new music, and some of you may have recently heard him live….he’s been on a U.S. tour, and recently played the beautiful Grand Performances watercourt venue, adjacent MOCA in downtown LA.  What a treat to  have him here.