Salif Keita

A master of West African rhythms and credited as one of the founders of the Afro-pop genre, Keita is world renowned for his unforgettable live performances, soaring vocals and his emotionally-fueled songs. 

Born in Mali, West Africa in 1949, Salif Keita comes from a noble family, and is a descendant of Sunjata Keita, who founded the Mali Empire in 1240. Keita was the third of thirteen children born to Sina Keita, a landowner in the village of Djoliba, where he grew up, near Mali’s capital, Bamako. Born albino in a land of blistering sun and heat, with limited eyesight and poor despite his social standing, his mother had to hide him to avoid the attacks of the superstitious crowds who called for his death. In addition to the problems of growing up as an albino, Keita found the opposition of his family to his interest in becoming a singer since the traditions of his ancestry excluded members of the nobility from becoming singers. Keita’s decision to become a musician broke an important taboo as in Mali only the lower jeli class makes its living from music. In 1970, at the age of 18, Salif Keita left Djoliba for Bamako, where he spent time as a street musician and playing in bars. The first group that he worked with was the Rail Band, a state-sponsored ensemble that was based at a Bamako railway station hotel, and which has served as an important launching pad for the careers of numerous West African musicians, including kora player and singer Mory Kante, and guitarist Kante Manfila. 

The Rail Band became legendary because it nurtured Mory Kante and Salif Keita and also because it was one of the first to electrify Mandingo music and integrate Afro-Cuban influences which many West African instrumentalists brought back from their stay in Cuba. In 1973, Salif Keita left the Rail Band, and with guitarist Kante Manfila he joined Les Ambassadeurs, which later became Les Ambassadeurs International. The new group developed the fusion between traditional music and western electric influences. 1977 saw Salif Keita being awarded the National Order of Guinea by Sekou Toure, the Guinean President. By that time, Salif Keita had also discovered American singers like Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles and Tina Turner. Their powerful way of singing and presence on stage taught Keita a lot about live performances. Restricted by the limited opportunities and political climate in Mali, the group moved south and set up base in Abidjan in the Ivory Coast, where they performed and recorded successfully during the late 1970s.

In 1984 Les Ambassadeurs Internationales broke up, and Salif Keita moved to Paris, launching a career that saw him recording the classic Soro album in 1987, produced by Ibrahim Sylla. A recording deal with Island Records followed, which resulted in the release of the album Ko yan in 1989, an album that nods to the Weather Report sound, and that led directly to Salif’s collaboration with Weather Report keyboard man, composer and arranger Joe Zawinul in 1990. 

With help from Carlos Santana, Wayne Shorter and a number of carefully picked musicians from Mali and France, Zawinul produced Amen, the album that made Salif the first African band leader to win a Grammy nomination. Although Salif Keita now tours extensively internationally, and is based in Paris for much of the year, he still resides in Mali. He tours with a mixed Malian/American 11 piece ensemble including singers, drums, percussion, bass, guitar and keyboards.

Yemi Alade

Alade made her musical debut in an all-girl group called Noty Spices in 2005, but her music became widely popular after she won the Peak Talent Show in 2009. She later released her first single “Fimisile” under the Jus’ Kiddin’ label.

In 2012, she signed onto the music label, Effyzzie Music Group, and released her single “Ghen Ghen Love”.

In July 2013, Alade released the video for her romantic afro-R&B song “Bamboo”, produced by Fliptyce. “Bamboo” went on to be a moderate hit and a popular wedding song. In the last quarter of 2013, she broke records when her most recent hit single, “Johnny”, produced by Selebobo, was leaked on the internet. The song became an international smash hit as it dominated music charts in Tanzania, Kenya, Ghana, South Africa, Liberia, Uganda, Zimbabwe, and the United Kingdom, among others. It has been listed as one of the best songs of 2013, despite the fact that it was released towards the end of the year and without a music video.

Alade has been featured on the covers of several magazines and performed around the world, sharing stages and songs with Mary J. BligeShina PetersM.IWizkidBecca, May D, Waje and Yemi Sax. She also headlined the Super Diva’s Nite at the 2013 Calabar Festival, and opened for the 2013 Headies Awards (popularly referred to as the “Nigerian Grammys“).

In 2014, Alade was featured on Yung6ix’s track “Lights”, as well as on a remix of “Sebiwo” by Beninese afropop star Lace. Alade teamed up with award-winning cinematographer Clarence Peters to create a music video for “Johnny”, which was released in March 2014 to critical acclaim and now has more than 32 million views on YouTube, as of December 2015.

Alade joined M.I, Waje, Timi Dakolo, and Burna Boy in singing the theme song for Port Harcourt, the UNESCO 2014 World Book Capital, as part of a project urging young people to read and stay in school. Shortly after that, Alade released a new single entitled “Tangerine”, featuring Selebobo; the critically acclaimed track charted across Africa. She appeared as a guest artist on Falz’s debut album.

She released her debut album, King of Queens, on 2 October 2014, and then went on tour. Yemi Alade then released her second studio album, titled “Mama Africa”, in March 2016.

Ladysmith Black Mambazo

Founded by Joseph Shabalala during the 1960s, Ladysmith Black Mambazo is a Grammy-winning choral group from South Africa. Specializing in isicathamiya, a harmony-focused Zulu style of a cappella and offshoot of mbube, they became known to pop audiences around the world when Paul Simon featured them on his 1986 album, Graceland. After joining Simon on his 1987 Graceland tour, they became regular headliners on the international touring circuit.

Born in 1941, Shabalala was one of eight children in a family that lived on a farm near the town of Ladysmith, South Africa. As the oldest boy, it was Joseph’s duty to take care of the family after his father died, and he eventually took up factory work.

His first musical experience, save for a bit of fooling around on the guitar, came with a choral group called the Blacks. Shabalala eventually took over leadership of the group and became its main composer. The Blacks won the majority of the local vocal competitions and became the most popular Zulu vocal group, but Shabalala felt that something was missing. “I had been hearing a voice inside me,” he said. “I didn’t know it, but it was the voice of God.” Shortly thereafter he became a Christian. Blending the choral music he heard in the Christian church with multiple elements of the Zulu tradition not typically combined, he forged his own style.

When the Blacks refused to take part in Shabalala’s experiments, he formed Ladysmith Black Mambazo. The group consisted of seven bass voices, an alto, a tenor, and Shabalala singing lead. After signing with Gallo Record Company, their recording debut, Amabutho, arrived in 1973. The combo began releasing albums at a staggering rate, creating a massive catalog of vocal music.

Shaka Zulu After Ladysmith Black Mambazo contributed to the eclectic mix of styles on Simon’s international hit Graceland and joined him on the subsequent tour, Simon produced a trilogy of Warner Bros. releases for the group. Shaka Zulu, released in 1987, won a Grammy for Best Traditional Folk Recording. It was followed by 1988’s Journey of Dreams and 1990’s Two Worlds One Heart. Among continued releases for other labels, including Gallo, a pair of best-of samplers appeared on Shanachie, including 1992’s Best of Ladysmith Black Mambazo. The 2000 compilation In Harmony was issued by Wrasse. The group won another Grammy for 2004’s Raise Your Spirit Higher, this time for Best Traditional World Music Album, and No Boundaries, which featured the English Chamber Orchestra, arrived on Headsup Records in 2005. In 2007, Ilembe: Honoring Shaka Zulu was released in South Africa with an American edition following in 2008. It took home the Grammy for Best Traditional World Music Album, and Live: Singing for Peace Around the World won the Best World Music Album Grammy in 2013.

With a lineup featuring four of Joseph Shabalala’s sons, who by that point had sung with the group for over 20 years, Ladysmith Black Mambazo released Songs of Peace & Love for Kids & Parents Around the World in 2017.


Since 2013, Nakhane has gone from being an artist to look out for, to one of the hottest tickets in town. Not only a remarkably brave and honest songwriter and musician, this young star has taken SA by storm by publishing a novel and by acting in the lead role in the internationally lauded movie The Wound (Inxeba). His albums Brave Confusion, The Laughing Son and more recently, the Clairvoyant EP have both seem him lay bare his feelings and refuse to look away from societal issues and raw, personal feelings.

Nakhane won a SAMA in the ‘Best Alternative Album’ category for Brave Confusion and subsequently collaborated with Black Coffee on the number 1 smash hit ‘We Dance Again’, which catapulted Nakane (still calling himself Nakhane Toure at that stage) into the limelight.

Apart from having an impeccable fashion taste and an aesthetically on-point approach to his craftsmanship, this artist has effortlessly picked up awards in every category of the arts that he’s embraced.

Nakhane is a humble, hard-working and fiercely relevant artist in South Africa right now. His new album You Will Not Die is due for release in March 2018. 

Dub Inc

Dub Inc are fully acclaimed by the entire reggae scene. The group won no less than three Victoires du Reggae awards (in 2014 for the “Paradise” album, in 2011 for “Hors Contrôle”, and 2008 for “Afrikya”). In 2016, they released a sixth LP, “So What”. Completely self-produced like all their LP’s, Featuring a mix of dancehall, hip-hop, and electronica influences, “So What” is a pure reggae album. They combine a range of styles, including dancehalldubska and rap. Their music is also influenced by African music with their songs being sung in a mixture of FrenchEnglish and Kabyle.

Rude Boy Story is the first documentary film released about this band.

After six successful albums, Dub Inc have been eagerly awaited to perform in Jozi


Ghorwane is Mozambicue’s legendary marrabenta band. Founded in 1983, the band got its name after the lake of the same name in the province of Gaza. This name was given by President Samora Machel during a festival to celebrate ten years of independence in 1985. Samora declared that “It’s prohibited to lie in the People’s Republic of Mozambique” and cited Ghorwane as an example. Ghorwane is the Shangaan term for “Good Boys”. Their style is a combination of traditional Mozambique music, Afropop, and fusion. Ghorwane’s music is sung in local languages, including Shangaan, Ronga and Chope. SAdly The band’s composer and saxophonistJose “Zeca” Alage, was murdered in 1993. Their 2005 album VANA VA NDOTA was dedicated to him (1959-1993) and Pedro Langa (1959-2001) Later that same year, Ghorwane started a music co-operative, the first of its kind in Mozambique, with the intention of promoting Mozambican music, improving working conditions for local musicians and protecting composers rights.

No strangers to South Africa and the Bassline Ghorwane is pipped to be one of the festival highlights.

Sipho ‘Hotstix’ Mabuse

From his first group, The Beaters, and then Harari, through to his stellar solo career that spans the better part of his adult life, Mabuse’s half a century of resolute commitment to aural emancipation remains as infectious as each of his precious recordings.

As the “Burn Out” maker and chart breaker, Mabuse’s primed to take his fans on a musical history lesson born out of the late 1960’s Soweto soul into what became the soundtrack to black consciousness. “There was a void our music filled,” Mabuse endorses. Mental emancipation took South Africans from a sense of passive helplessness into a world of pop possibility and strength through song.

“Our music served a much higher purpose,” he says when considering the foundation building years of his career in music. “We were all the sons and daughters of Africa, working on our strengths to take what we did to another level. As scary as those dark days were, through the 1970s, I remember them oddly fondly,” Mabuse recalls with a rue smile.

Between beats, political and social upheaval through a fair slice of the bigger pie that is Sipho “Hotstix” Mabuse’s marriage to the music he makes so well, “we were all equally foolish and brave,” he says by way of explanation as to how he and his peers powered their way through to what today we all know and love as a free and fair democracy.

“We still have a role,” he defends with smile. “I’m not about to stop walking on my road. I’m a voice in a space that speaks truth to power.” And until that may or may not change, listen out. Things are about to get interesting, all over again if Mabuse’s got anything to sing about out it. 

Femi Koya

World Afrobeat Music composer and performer, versatile saxophonist and dynamic vocalist,  Femi Koya is the new face of the African Renaissance, combining West African highlife and Jazz,  South African Sofiatown with a nostalgic Afrobeat root sounds, his music is arich blend of deep and sultry Afrobeat and contemporary  groove.. He is urban and urbane. His life’s journey – a story of migration from the West to the South – resonates in his music, which creates a conscious dialogue between West African and South African sounds. This musical fusion demonstrates the path to a new and culturally integrated Africa in which a common heritage is reinforced to meet the needs of today’s world. His quest is for African unity at a time when he believes Africa should claim its rightful and proud place in the world.

Femi Koya’s debut album “Just in Newtown” is evidence of the rich melodies that result from this fusion. Through his versatility on the saxophone, he breathes new life into African world music. “Iba” meaning “Homage” is the title of Femi Koya’s second album which was launched in August 2015. The Iba album also calls for African unity and makes a plea for human rights to be respected. But the album also celebrates Africa’s love of life with infectious dance numbers that bring fans to their feet. Latest album “Village Afrobeat” due to be release April 16 2018, the songs depict nature, fertility, rituals, change of seasons and traditions essential to village life. The Album tells stories and tales of what happens in Villages and especially fables with animals like tortoise, the role of town criers, village men and women as part of the whole village lifestyle.

His musical influences include Fela Kuti, Bob Marley, Manu di Bango, Hugh Masekela, Baaba Maal & John Coltrane

He has shared the stage with Youssou N’dour and Yvonne Chaka Chaka at the CAF (Confederation of African Football Awards) in Lagos and with John Legend in his first South African tour in Cape Town. He performed alongside the king of Juju music, Sunny Ade, at the Glo launch in the Republic of Benin. Other colourful festivals felt Femi Koya’s acrobatic music, where he performed alongside the Wynton Marsalis, Oliver Mtukudzi, Habib Koite , Salif Keita, Baaba Maal. He has recorded with Simphiwe Dana, Pops Mohamed ,Yvonne Chaka Chaka, and worked with Baaba Maal, Angelique Kidjo, Wizkid just to mention a few.

Other events where Femi Koya has laid his marks include, RSA Department of Arts and Culture and dedicated a song to the Haitian people. Femi Koya was part of the Radio 2000 song for Madiba. Starred the Joburg Theatre Africa day celebrations 2015, payed tribute to Fela Kuti with Lura of Cape Verde,  Abena Koomson NY/Ghana, Lira and Ringo Madlingozi of South Africa.

Femi Koya sees himself as part of the new Africa on the move, where home is not just one place but a multiplicity of places and influences. He believes that Africa will have its true homecoming when people see themselves as first and foremost African. Until then he will continue to make music suggestive of this homecoming and what the future holds if Africans unite. It is, he says, our destiny.

Sekou Kouyate

Sekou Kouyate was born in Conakry, the capital of Guinea, into a family of exceptional Griots. Passed down through 70 generations of kora players, the music and peaceful philosophy and wisdom, is taught from parents to children, preserving the Mandigo culture of West Africa. The Griots used to be advisors of the Kings, and teachers through music to society, as is still the case. His father, the acknowledged Griot and kora player, M ́Bady Kouyate, was the leader of ‘Ballet African National de la Guinée’ and toured the world with artists including Harry Belafonte and Miriam Makeba. His mother, Diaryatou, was lead singer in his father’s band. Sekou started touring with his parents at the age of ten, and first recorded with them at eleven, when he was already considered a kora talent in his own right. At the age of twelve, whilst on a tour of Europe, he experienced electric guitar, which gave him the idea to electrify the traditional African instrument, and experiment with wah-wah pedals to add distortion to the classic sound.

With this pioneering idea, he truly developed a style of his own that led to world recognition, when he performed with his cousins, Ba Cissoko ́s band, formed in 1999. The press wrote “Jimi Hendrix meets West Africa”, a sentence that has almost become an accepted term in music language. After 12 years of touring the world’s biggest festivals with Ba, Sekou formed a new band ‘Experience’, with the Slovenian guitar master, Igor Leonardi. He then recorded and toured with Cuban pianist Roberto Fonseca. In 2011, Sekou met Joe Driscoll and recorded the award-winning album “Faya”, which was released on the American label Cumbancha. In 2013, Sekou also started collaborating with One World, touring internationally with his family band, Section Kora, and recorded this album during these tours.

Sekou ́s sound, mode of playing and the invention of the electric kora, has inspired a whole new generation of kora players. Today, Sekou Kouyate is considered among the world’s finest kora players.

His album “Sabaru”, meaning patience, sums up Sekou ́s musical history: rooted in his West African traditions and influenced by the contemporary blues, soul, funk and jazz, that had been his early inspirations. Sekou’s ideas have many sound layers that he extracts from this rich instrument, with its endless possibilities for complex combinations of tones and polyrhythms, and which he performs with great individual expression. It has been a pleasure to record this inspired but unpretentious album with a virtuoso who goes effortlessly into the studio, and creates on the spot. It’s an album that takes you on a joyous journey to Taouyah, Conakry, where it all started. Not in any way overproduced, the crystal clear recordings and respectful mixes, are simply made to sound as if the listener is present in the room with the musicians.


Amadou & Miriam – Mali | Asa – Nigeria | Vusi Mahlasela – South Africa | Oliver Mtukudzi – Zimbabwe | Ishmael Lo – Senegal | Femi Kuti – Nigeria | Baaba Maal – Senegal | Habib Koite – Mali | Ladysmith Black Mambazo – South Africa | Eric Wainana – Kenya | D’Banj – Nigeria | Doet Gnahore – Cote de Ivoire | Yuri de Kunha – Angol | Awadi – Senegal | Professor – South Africa | Tumi and the Volume – South Africa | Nkulee Dube -South Africa | The Parlotones – South Africa | Wonderboom – South Africa | Maya Kamaty – Reunion Islands | Hagar Samir – Egypt | Waje – Nigeria | Vaudou Game – Togo | Songhoy Blues – Mali | Mapumba – DRC | Chiwoniso – Zimbabwe | Zonke – South Africa | Nakhane – South Africa | Mystro – Nigeria | Maleh – Lesotho | Mahotella Queens – South Africa | Tribute Birdie Mboweni – South Africa | The Soil – South Africa | Kinobe – Uganda | Ringo – South Africa | Lesego – South Africa | HHP – South Africa | Lira – South Africa | Soweto Gospel Choir – South Africa | Gang of Instrumentals – South Africa | Gang-be – Benin | Vuvuzela Orchestra – South Africa |  Uju – South Africa | Toya – South Africa | Ghorwane – Mozambique | and many more

The Bassline Fest is a founding member of IGODA the first African Festivals tour circuit. IGODA is a Zulu word that means “knot” or “to bind together”. It is a unique and innovative concept that brings together the finest music festivals within primarily Southern Africa to create one of the first touring circuits on the African continent. IGODA enables the festivals in the circuit to have a wider diversity of artists and a better audience experience and an ease of opportunity for artists and fans to travel across the continent sharing their music.

• Jozi, South Africa •

• Maputo, Mozambique •


• Malkerns, Swaziland •

• Durban, South Africa •

• Saint-Pierre, Reunion Island •

• Kampala, Uganda •