STAFF BENDA BILILI

Tres Tres Fort

2009-05-17

Staff Benda Bilili is a band of homeless and disabled (four members are paraplegic) people living in the grounds of Kinshasa Zoo in Congo. Benda Bilili literally translates to "put forward what is hidden", which pretty much means to look beyond appearances. Playing mostly home-made and found instruments, including a plastic armchair drum kit, they were "discovered" when introduced to British and US musicians who visited Kinshasa as part of the Africa Express trip of 2007. They won the hearts of members of Massive Attack and Damon Albarn, with whom they performed. This is an album of amazingly optimistic songs that document everyday life for these people. Take the lyrics to "Tonkara", for instance. "I once slept on cardboard. Good luck hit me. I bought myself a mattress. It can happen to you..." Optimistic indeed! Rebecca Ruth.

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