Summer is here, which means it’s time to roll the windows down and blast your favorite songs whilst grabbing the attention of everyone around you. A new season is a change of tune, so let ONE help you jumpstart your summer playlist with 12 songs from world-renowned African musicians that are sure to get you pumped.
Apart from being brilliant artists, these performers are also dedicated activists with inspirational stories to share. We are going to highlight just four of the seven incredible musicians featured in this playlist.
Curator of the ONE Campaign’s Girls and Women page for April of this year, Kidjo has long celebrated women and human rights in her music. Born and raised with nine siblings in Benin, West Africa, her father, against the social norms, insisted on sending his three daughters to school.
She recounts her father’s inspiration and notes: “it gave me the confidence not only to sing but also to speak on CNN or BBC and to meet world leaders to lobby on the behalf of the women of Africa.”
She is featured on this playlist with her songs “Agolo” and “Summertime.”
Senegalese singer, songwriter, and percussionist Youssou N’Dour has been considered by Rolling Stone, “perhaps the most famous singer alive” in Africa. Starting to perform at age twelve, N’Dour started his own recording studio and label, Jolol, by the age of 36. Perhaps more importantly, N’Dour has spent the last 30 years advocating on social justice issues. Nominated as Goodwill Ambassador of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN, he also served as a council member of the World Future Council, among others.
A powerful and influential figure in Senegal and around the world, he is featured on this playlist with his songs “I Bring What I Love” and “7 Seconds.”
The first musician from Africa to popularize African music on a global market, Zenzile Miriam Makeba, or Mama Africa as she was nicknamed, emerged on the music scene in the 1960s. Leaving the country to record in the US, she testified against apartheid at the UN, leading to the revocation of her South African citizenship. She was later appointed the official delegate to the UN for Guinea and won the Dag Hammarskjöld Peace Prize. By the time of her death she was granted honorary citizenship to ten countries and held nine passports.
She is featured in this playlist with her songs “What Is Love” and “Click Song Number 1.”
Amadou & Mariam
This Mali-based duo, Amadou Bagadado and Mariam Doumbia, met at Mali’s Institute for the Young Blind in the 1970s and by 1980 they were married. After gaining fame in Mali, they moved to Paris in 1996. There they recorded Sou Ni Tile, and soon after they exploded on a global scale. Amadou later helped found and became the president of the Malian Federation of Artists. Although they faced fierce adversity, Mariam says, “no matter whether you are blind or not, you can work, you can make music.”
A truly inspirational duo, you can hear Amadou and Mariam on this playlist with their song “Je pense a toi.”
Other artists featured: Salif Keita (“C’est bon, c’est bon”), Omawumi (“If You Ask Me”), Waje (“Fine Girl”), and Ice Prince (“Aboki,” and “Marry You”).