Lionel Loueke

For those of you who are jazz fans, I am sure you are similar with the very talented guitarist and vocalist Lionel Loueke. Born in Benin in 1973, this artist has had a very long journey to the fame that he is now garnering.

Loueke grew up in a middle-class family listening to Afro-pop beats performed by his older brother and samba which was popular in his mother's village due to Portuguese-Brazil influence in Benin. He was also inspired by traditional African music from countries such as Nigeria, Congo, Zaire, and Mali. Jazz came into his life when a friend of his brother went to Benin with a CD by guitarist George Benson and it basically touched a major chord within him.

Even though he did not pick up the guitar until he was 17, once he got a hold of it his world journey took off. Getting serious about music, he moved to Ivory Coast to attend the National Institute of Art. Unfortunately jazz was not a popular subject at the school so Loueke eventually moved on to American School of Modern Music in Paris. Upon graduation, he received a scholarship to attend the Berklee College of Music in Boston. It was there that he would meet his bandmates and eventually make several albums including the latest Karibu.

One of my personal favorite tracks on the album is Nonvignon which is a great blend of African beats mixed with his passion for jazz. In additional, he sings in his Fon language on this track which makes it a unique song on the album.

Click here to read more about Loueke in the New York Times or here to buy the Karibu album.

{Photo from the New York Times}


Anaka said...

Thanks for sharing this! In the last couple of years I've started listening to a lot of Afro beat (Fela, antibalas, tony allen) but living in India means that you have to try extra hard to find out about new artists.

Brandie said...

Anaka - you are very welcome. I am always jotting down new African artists that I'm loving in and it's great to be able to share them with others. I'll keep you posted. ;)