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Manecas Costa

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  1. 1.
    Esta Noite - Narf ,
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    Irmón Di Terra - Narf ,
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  3. 3.
    Paraiso Di Gumbe
    4:570:30
  4. 4.
    Aló Irmao - Narf ,
    7:080:30
  5. 5.
    Nha Mame - Narf
    7:030:30
b. 1967, Cacheu da Silva, Guinea Bissau. Situated between Guinea and Senegal on the West African coast, Guinea Bissau was Portugal’s only mainland colony in the region and Costa sings in Bissau-Kriolu, a mixture of Portuguese and indigenous languages.
The region’s predominant form of musical expression is the sensuous gumbe dance, played on the tina water drum and the work of singer-songwriter and virtuoso guitarist Manecas Costa draws on such traditions with subtlety. Costa was performing with fêted local group Africa Libre by the age of 10 and by his mid-teens he was a local star. The singer was appointed a goodwill ambassador for UNICEF at the age of 20, campaigning for child health programmes and composing songs to spread the message: the track ‘Meninos’ (Children) advised ‘I don’t like to see children who are ill/Mothers, don’t stay at home with your children when it is time to vaccinate them’. However, in Guinea Bissau, there are no recording studios and few venues for gigs and, like many of his country’s musicians, Costa emigrated and settled in Lisbon, Portugal in 1990.
He made his first UK performances as part of the showcase for Earthworks’ compilation Palop Africa!, which gathered songs by a number of musicians from Portuguese-speaking Africa.
Costa’s most widely available album, 2003’s Paraiso Di Gumbe, was produced by BBC Radio 3 presenter Lucy Duran in Guinea Bissau itself and, despite the country’s rich musical heritage, is believed to be the first album ever recorded there. Problematically, however, Guinea Bissau was still in the process of reconstruction after the civil war of 1998 destroyed much of the country’s infrastructure. Nevertheless, Duran and Buena Vista Social Club’s Jerry Boys established a makeshift studio in a coastal nightclub, The Rio. Despite working predominantly with local musicians, Costa and Duran were also astute enough to incorporate non-indigenous instrumentation into their recording. The result was a gratifying and lovely album.

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