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From Congo Dem. Rep.
Life-affirming sounds from the streets of Kinshasa
To say that Staff Benda Bilili's story is an unlikely tale redefines the world 'understatement'. Take several disenfranchised, homeless guitar-pickers who, cast down by polio, live in the grounds of Kinshasa Zoo and get around town on pimped-up motorised tricycles. Team them with a bunch of street kids, one of whom fashions his own instrument - the satonge - using an old milk-powder can and a strand of electrical wire. Not exactly the stuff of The X Factor. But Staff Benda Bilili found their own Simon Cowell - Vincent Kenis, the Belgian record producer behind the European success of Konono No 1 and the Congotronics compilations, who went into delirium when he heard Staff Benda Bilili's joyful sound. The subsequent album - Tres Tres Fort - also sent press and punters into collective rapture, a sensation repeated when the band flew in for their first European tour. For those yet to be touched by this remarkable music and story, the ride starts here.
(Biography written by Nige Tassell 2010)