sexta-feira, 21 de dezembro de 2007

Wazimbo, aka Tio Waz

Born in 1948 in Chibuto/Gaza, Mozambique's top singer Wazimbo (Humberto C. Benfica), grew up in Mafalala, a popular bairro of Lourenco Marques (today Maputo).
He started singing in the '60s with the local "Silverstars" band and then the "Geizers", touring all over the Lusophone Empire.After independence Wazimbo was the only singer permanently engaged by national radio and later Orchestra Marrabenta Star. He made several recordings with this band, among them the classic one in Harare, Zimbabwe in 1988.
The producers were not aware of the existence of the track "Nwahulwana", which must have been made during a supposed recording break. It appeared as if magically during remix in London and, by the force of Wazimbo's voice, made its way into history. The song became a cult hit starting in California where Microsoft used it for an international campaign. And in 2001, Hollywood picked up on the sounds of this sweet and gruff voice. "The Pledge", a Hollywood film directed by Sean Penn and starring Jack Nicholson, adopted Wazimbo's everlasting ballad for his sister in the soundtrack.


Wazimbo started his musical career in 1964 with the Silverstars (1969) and continued as a singer with the Geiziers, performing a colonial mix of international pop music with a Brazilian tinge in Mocambique´s capital, Maputo.
Maputo's relationship with South Africa was comparable to Havana's reputation as a "casino hotspot" for the inhabitants of Miami before the Cuban Revolution.
After the independence of Mocambique from Portugal in 1975 Wazimbo worked with the big band of the national radio station, "Radio Mocambique". He became the lead vocalist of "Orchestra Marrabenta Star De Mocambique" in 1979 and worked with various members from the the big band of RM.
"Orchestra Marrbenta Star de Mocambique was a talented group made up of the best musicians, singers and dancers from the south of the country. They were one of the few groups that flourished during this period due to their close relationship with the only national radio station at this time "Radio Mocambique". They were the main band for the radio station as well as favorites of the ruling political party "Frelimo". Led by the main vocalist Wazimbo, "Orchestra Marrabenta Star de Mocambique" developed a full and funky style of marrabenta featuring electric guitars, powerful horn lines and soulful vocals.

In 1988 Wazimbo recorded with "Orchestra Marrabenta Star de Mocambique" the popular "Harare Sessions" in Simbabwe as Mocambique did not offer any music industry. During a recording brake Wazimbo played his legendary "Nwahulwana ballad" while the tape machine was still running, discovered later in London when the mixing took place. What a magical birth of a song. Later used by Microsoft for a commercial and the Soundtrack for the American film "The Pledge" in 2001, directed by Sean Penn.

After becoming extremely popular at home in Mocambique, they toured in Europe and released two CD's on Germany's "Piranha label". Both showcased a varied mix of dance styles plus the occasional, strikingly soulful ballad. The 90´s saw a return to peace in Mozambique, but by then there were no recording studios or music venues and the group finally disbanded in 1995.
Marrabenta was the rough-edged, urban dance music of Mozambique which emerged in the 50´s. It included a fast folkloristic rhythm called "Majika" as well as a kind of "Calypso" and Angolan "Merengue" and emerged as an energetic dance-music. It became strongly associated with the struggle for independence and was almost completely wiped out (along with Mozambique's music industry) by the bitter civil war, which raged throughout the country during the 80´s. Accompanied by the controversial social vocals sung in "Ronga" and "Shangana", "Marrabenta" was played on self constructed guitars from fuel canisters and fishing wire, often struck so hard the strings snapped. Thus "Marrabenta" got its name: "arrabentar", which is Ronga and means "breaking".

The members are:

Wazimbo - Lead vocalsDulce - VocalsMingas - VocalsSox - Solo guitarGuimarães - Rhythm guitarXico - TrumpetLeman - TrumpetMatchoti - SaxMilagre - Bass guitarZeca Tchecho - DrumsStewart - Percussion

Selected Discography

2001 CD Nwahulwana Piranha CD-PIR 1572

With Orchestra Marrabenta Star de Mocambique

1996 CD Marrabenta Piquenique Piranha CD-PIR 1043 (not available)

1989 CD IndepenDance - Piranha CD-PIR 15 (only online available)

Press Quotes

"Wazimbo's music is a fine example of music that suits when the lights are low and the hands are wandering."Chris Smith.

"With its dance-inspiring fusion of lively marrabenta, Fena and Xingombela rhythms, Congolese guitar melodies, and the soulful vocals of female singer Mingas and male singer Wazimbo, Orchestra Marrabenta Star De Mocambique was one of Mozambique's most exciting bands in the 1980´s and early-90´s."Craig Harris, All Music Guide.

"Wazimbo and his Orchestra Marrabenta were the first to play top-quality marrabenta music, and took it on tour to Europe. Although the orchestra is no longer together, Wazimbo continues to enjoy considerable popularity as a solo artist at home."The rough guide of world music.

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