Zaire 74: The African Artists

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When the famous “The Rumble in the Jungle” fight in Kinshasa, Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo) was announced in 1974, it was universally recognized as having the potential to be the biggest fight in boxing history. You have to remember, at this time boxing was as big as soccer, football and basketball are now. Plus, it was Muhammad Ali against George Foreman! How could it not be one of the biggest events in the world? Everyone on the planet would be watching. One of those who believed in the grandeur of the bout is record producer Stewart Levine.

Levine saw the event as a unique opportunity to put African music on the global stage. So he asked his good friend and South African trumpeter legend Hugh Masekela to help him organize a 3 day music festival to proceed the fight. The music festival would showcase some of the best musical acts Africa had to offer and pair them with well established American acts. Perhaps you’ve seen the documentaries “When We Were Kings” and/or “Soul Power” which include footage from the festival featuring James Brown, B.B. King, Bill Withers and many others. However, due to disputes over money and control (amongst other things), much of the audio and video from many of the African performances were never exposed outside of those three days. Until now.

Zaire 74: The African Artists is a compilation of live recordings from the festival exclusively made up of African artists. Guess what? It was produced by Stewart Levine and Hugh Masekela too! Check out a couple of videos from some of the performances both of these live recordings are included on the album as well.

Abumba Masikini is the band that backed Abeti, who was one of the biggest Congolese artists at that time. This is the song “Magali Ya Kinshasa”

Poems Dance Troupe was also a well known Congolese collective during the early 70s. This is a snippet of their performance of “Pembe Dance Song”