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Joy Elizondo

Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, to an ex-slave, Gabino Ezeiza first picked up a guitar at the age of fifteen. Drawing from a rich oral tradition of earlier payadores, he gradually attracted an impressive following by taking his improvisational virtuosity on the road. The payada, a duel-like exchange in which singer-guitarists spontaneously compose formulaic refrains, is derived from both Spanish versification and African traditions of musical contests. In Argentina, it is considered “popular literature,” inextricably tied to the most symbolic of national figures: the gaucho of the pampas (roughly equivalent to cowboys on the range). While still a teenager, Ezeiza began writing for La Juventud, a Buenos Aires newspaper for and by members of the black community. From 1876 to 1878, while still building a reputation as a payador, publishing poetry, and writing news, he became the editor of La Juventud.

Before the twentieth ...

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Elias Bongmba

Congolese (Democratic Republic of the Congo [DCR]) composer, guitarist, poet, social critic, satirist, political commentator, and orchestra leader, whose full name was L’Okanga La Ndju Pene Luambo Makiadi alias Franco, reigned for more than thirty years as king of rumba, a wizard of orchestration, and a monument of the Congolese and the African song. He certainly was one of the intellectual giants of Africa in the twentieth century.

Makiadi was born in Sona Bata on 6 July 1938 to Joseph Emongo and his wife Mbonga Makiesse. He left school and focused on music, and made his own guitar at age 7. In 1953 Franco recorded his first song, “Bolingo na ngai na Beatrice” (My Love for Beatrice), beginning a long engagement with themes dealing with love and women.

Paul Dewayon served as a mentor to the young Franco During his long career Makiadi and his exemplary musicians recorded over 150 ...

Article

Joy Elizondo

Casildo Thompson grew up in a family that was active in the vibrant and creative Afro-Argentine community of nineteenth-century Buenos Aires. His father, Capitãn Casildo Thompson, a veteran of the Paraguayan war (among others), founded the most successful and the longest lasting Afro-Argentine mutual aid society of his time, La Sociedad Fraternal (The Fraternal Society). According to historian George Reid Andrews, Capitãn Thompson was also a respected vocalist and composer who enjoyed a large following and wrote some of the most popular songs of his era. These included “La Locomotiva” (The Locomotive) and “Recuerdo del Campamento” (Memory of the Encampment), commemorating the anniversary of Argentina's first railroads and memorializing the Paraguayan campaign, respectively.

Thus Casildo Thompson had a powerful family legacy to live up to Andrews highlights the tendency of some Afro Argentine families to produce two or more generations of musicians Thompson was no exception Following his ...