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Modern Senegambian Music Scene
Culture & Traditions   Music  |  Ndaga - Mbalax       
Modern Gambian music has evolved over the years thanks to influences from Latin America in the late 1960's and 1970s as well as other countries from the region such as Congolese music as well as the musical traditions of the Fulas, Jolas, Wolofs and other ethnic groups.

They all helped to create the uniquely Senegambia style of Mande music.

Forerunners & Origins:
The legendary band known as the Super Eagles, formed in the late 1960s, were at the forefront of the post-independence musical talent to emerge from Gambia. They had gained legendary status in much of West Africa at this time and toured the UK and the rest of Europe as well. They were influenced by West African music styles such as from the Congo as well as by Afro-Cuban Salsa and Jazz. They were the first modern Mande dance band in the country and toured widely including to countries such as Senegal and Sierra Leone as well as a visits to the UK and much of Europe. However, following the strong Pan-Africanist feeling at the time which emphasised original indigenous culture they decided to disband in 1972 and re-formed in 1973 under the new name Ifang Bondi. Their sound had evolved into a genuine, home- grown Senegambian style of music combining traditional musical instruments such as the Kora with the modern electric guitar.

To many they were the pioneers of the Afro-Manding music who paved the way for other local bands such as Guelewar and other Senegambian greats including the likes of Baaba Maal and Youssou N'dour of Ndaga fame.

Mr. N'dour himself has acknowledged their influence on him. Though they are both Senegalese they likewise influenced modern Gambian musical culture. Today it is it is N'dour's Mbalax style (helped along by the singer Viviane, his relation) that reigns supreme.

Today many happily combine the traditional with the new such as the Riti, tama, Kora and sabarr musical instruments with modern instruments such as the electric guitar, organ, drum and bass to create a uniquely West African style. The output comes in the form of Ndaga, Africanized Reggae and Hip Hop with mostly Wolof or English  lyrics but also includes Jola, Mandinka and other local tongues. Modern and traditional bands include Jalex, Jambedula Cultural Group, Daniel Jatta,  Manding Jatta. Though many local youths try desperately to get onto the bandwagon a shortage of cash and a small local market base often hinders any advancement. Many musicians have been forced to go abroad in particular to Senegal where they have banded up with other groups.

Thus as can be seen above there is no single style of music that can be called "Gambian" as the traditional sits side-by-side with the modern as well as a fusion of the old and the new played with instruments both indigenous and 'borrowed'.


Super Eagles




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