â€œWe want to show the world that Congo is not just about war and famine,â€? Makombo says. In addition to dances and educational events, CAUSE also organizes soccer tournaments for Congolese and other Africans in New York. â€œWe decided to bring the best of Africa for our friends in New York. This group has played with major musicians like Koffi Olomide. They have traveled and played all over the world.â€?
Even as their country struggles to recover from war, Congolese residing in New York City are planning an evening of Soukous music and celebration. Congolese and their friends from other African countries will be joined by Americans on June 4th at a Manhattan hotspot when the world-renowned Soukous Stars take the stage at Club Demerara on 215 West 28th Street. Proceeds from the event will go towards planning an even bigger event â€“ a four-day feast â€“ from June 30 to July 4. That second event will be the celebration of DRCâ€™s 45th anniversary of Independence. The founder of the Soukous Stars, Ngouma Lokito says Americans will have the treat of a lifetime in terms of music and dance. â€œThey will not have to travel to Africa to hear excellent music and dance,â€? he says. â€œWe in Africa dance to American musicâ€”now itâ€™s our turn to make African music popular in America.â€?
Lokitoâ€™s group includes nine musicians â€“ bass, lead, rhythm, congas, keyboard, drums and three singers. There are also six dancers. â€œWe have one famous new musician,â€? Lokito adds. â€œHis name is Baby Black Ndoumbe formerly of Wenge Musica, which is one of the best groups in Congo. His father, Ndoumbe Opetum used to sing with Francoâ€™s TP OK Jazz.â€? Franco was one of the most famous musicians to come out of Africa. The organizer of the celebrations is Euloge Makombo, President of CAUSE a fraternal organization formed to bring Congolese living in the US together. â€œWe want to show the world that Congo is not just about war and famine,â€? Makombo says. In addition to dances and educational events, CAUSE also organizes soccer tournaments for Congolese and other Africans in New York. â€œWe decided to bring the best of Africa for our friends in New York. This group has played with major musicians like Koffi Olomide.
They have traveled and played all over the world.â€? Soukous Stars is currently based in New York. The Stars was founded in 1989 and the group has performed in several African countries and in Europe. The Stars have six dancers. One of the dancers, Vivian Akinyi, who is also a dance instructor and hails from Kenya said: â€œWe promise our guests that they will see and have a phenomenal evening that they will never forget. This is what we are trying to make popular. Africans can play the guitar and use the drum in an excellent manner. We want to introduce the new Africa to Americans.â€? She says the dancing involves a mixture of modern hip-hop and traditional Africa.
For tickets to the June 4th event call or to order Soukous Starsâ€™ CDs (347) 328-0533; tickets are $15 in advance and more at the door. To reach CAUSE to find out about future events visit www.causeus.org Also visit www.soukousstars.com To subscribe to the newsstand edition of The Black Star News please call (212) 481-7745.