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World Music CD Reviews Africa

STARS OF AFRO-POP

By Michael Cowan
Published June 22, 2006

Arc Music

This collection lives up to its name: a great sampling of the top stars of Afro-Pop. There are tracks from well-known artists like Cesária Évora, Youssou N’Dour, Zap Mama and Manu Dibango, as well as lesser known singers like Esther Wahome, Franco, and Hanitra. Some of the tracks stay true to their Afro-Pop roots while throwing in some surprising influences. “Nganga Kisi,” from Zairian bandleader Ricardo Lemvo and his group Makina Loca, has a definite Latin influence, including a great rap in Spanish. “Lua Nha Testemunha,” the track from Césaria Évora is a vintage cut, is a bit more lively than the mournful mornas usually associated with the Cape Verdean diva. Other highlights on the collection include “Abelley Sphere,” by Manu Dibango. Nearly 30 years after he put Afro-Pop on the map with “Soul Makossa,” this legend from Cameroon still sounds great. This is a great collection that both novice and connoisseur will enjoy.