Tuesday, June 12, 2007

IVORIAN REGGAE STAR ALPHA BLONDY

Alpha Blondy the Bob Marley of West Africa


The first son in a family with nine children, Seydou Koné was born in Dimbokro Côte d'Ivoire, 1953. Alpha was raised by his grandmother, and his memories as a child were all filled with happy years. Carrying the first name of his grandfather, his grandmother always joked that Alpha was her "small husband". Growing with his grandmother, Alpha learned the local Dioula culture and norms. One of his memorable lessons as a child was the importance of speaking the truth and not lying, for the consequences of lying were dire.



Alpha with his grandmother and cousin Abou on the left

In 1962, Alpha moved to Odjenné, Ivory Coast, to live with his parents. Whilst attending high school Alpha formed a band. This hobby affected his schooling, however, and Alpha was expelled from school due to poor attendance. His parents then sent him to study English in Monrovia in the neighbouring country of Liberia in 1973. He spent thirteen months there and then moved to the United States of America, with hopes of improving his English, attending university and setting up a full fledged music band. Life as an immigrant in the USA was not easy for Alpha Blondy.

Young Alpha with his friend Fulgence Kassy


In 1976, Alpha Blondy on the ferry boat to Staten Island, New York.

Having landed in the Big Apple, the city of New York, to commence his English studies, Alpha had to work part time to make ends meet. In New York, he met Rastafarians and attended Jamaican music concerts, such as Burning Spear. During this time, Alpha maintained his passion for writing music. He later moved on to Texas, briefly working in poultry slaughter houses. This was not what he had dreamed of when he moved to the United States. He attempted to record music; however, due to financial problems, his album was never released. Already, four years had gone by, and he was still in the United States, without any real tangible result. In 1980, Alpha Blondy decided to return to Ivory Coast. Distinctly lacking in glory, his return was made even more painful by the transformation of his American dream into a nightmare.


On returning to the Ivory Coast, Alpha got in touch with his childhood friend, Fulgence Kassi, who had become a famous television producer. This was the beginning of his real career as a singer, a transition marked by him changing his name to 'Alpha Blondy'. He had always been a rebellious child, and, for this, his grandmother had nick named him "Blondy," her unique pronunciation of the word "bandit." He later took on the name Alpha (the first letter in the Greek alphabet) so his name literally translates to "first bandit."


After various TV shows for Kassi, in the early '80s, he recorded his first single, Brigidier Sabari. Blondy recorded his first solo album in 1983, entitled 'Jah Glory'. However, by the time of the album's release, he was not able to share the joy with his cherished grandmother; she had passed away. This album was to have enormous success and would become later a symbol of resistance, because of the song 'Brigadier Sabari', where Alpha criticized the harassment of the police. Alpha Blondy became a big star in Abidjan, with his own African twist of Reggae music, becoming, in the eyes of his fans, 'the Bob Marley of West Africa'. Having found success with his music in Europe, Alpha went to Paris in 1984, to make his second album, 'Cocody Rock'.


Blondy sings in Dioula, English, French, Arabic, and Hebrew. His band, The Solar System, is likewise international, with members hailing from Cameroon, England, France, Ivory Coast, Jamaica, and Togo.

Alpha has had a rich musical career that has seen him release more than fifteen albums. With his group, Alpha's musical artistry has been heard world wide, spreading their African rhythms far and wide.

Ivorian reggae star and UNOCI's Messenger of Peace, Alpha Blondy (with microphone and in dark jacket) and Charles Blegoude, leader of the Young Patriots (right of Alpha Blondy with a cap), along with other youth leaders call for calm and denounce violence on the eve of UN Security Council resolutions concerning the stalled peace process in Côte d'Ivoire. Picture taken in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire, 30 October 2006.


Alpha has also been hailed as a world star because of his fight for peace and unity all around the world. "Jah Blondy", as his friends call him, has been a UN goodwill ambassador because of his actions in favor of peace and justice. He has also participated in many humanitarian and charity concerts, such as the concert in Senegal in March, 2006, for the eradication of Malaria in Africa.


Alpha Blondy is one of Africa's most famous reggae musicians. One of Alpha's ardent fans once noted that Alpha Blondy's albums are like hidden treasures. Once you discover them, you'll wonder how you ever survived without them. A pleasant surprise for new listeners, and a must for any true reggae fans, Alpha Blondy is one of the great inspirational song writers and singers in the evolving world of reggae music.



WATCH ALPHA BLONDY MUSIC VIDEOS
Cocody Rock
Jerusalem
Massada
Brigadier Sabari
Souroukou Logo
Who Are You


MORE INFORMATION
Alpha Blondy Official Site (French)
Alpha Blondy Myspace

10 comments:

BarbadosInFocus / PictureInFocus said...

This brings back memories of college life at SUNY New Paltz circa 1984-1986. Alpha’s music got me through many a night. My IRIVER player is packed with his songs. I really love his music. Funny thing is every chance I get I am always trying to introduce others to his music.

PEACE.

luihamu said...

WHAT HE DOES IS TO WORSHIP HIS MAJESTY HAILE SELASSI I,KING OF KINGS,LORD OF LORDS AND LION OF JUDAH.

NAMPENDA SANA NABII ALPHA BLONDY NAFURAHI SANA KUONGA BLOGU YAKO INAWAKUMBUKA MANABII.

NIKISEMA MENGI UTANIONA MIMI MWONGO.

JAH GUIDANCE AND PROTECTION.

LIZ NASEMA ASANTE SANA

luihamu said...

lIZ,

NAKUMBUKA KIPINDIKILE THE FIRST BANDIT WAKATI ANAIMBA ALIKUWA ANAVAA TRUE COLOURS MWILI MZIMA.

LEO NIMEFURAHI SANA,UNAJUWA KILA SIKU NIKIPATA KUONA PICHA AU HABARI YA MANABII SIKU MOJA INAONGEZEKA YA KUISHI.

NUFF NUFF RESPECT SISTER LIZ.

luihamu said...

lIZ,

NAKUMBUKA KIPINDIKILE THE FIRST BANDIT WAKATI ANAIMBA ALIKUWA ANAVAA TRUE COLOURS MWILI MZIMA.

LEO NIMEFURAHI SANA,UNAJUWA KILA SIKU NIKIPATA KUONA PICHA AU HABARI YA MANABII SIKU MOJA INAONGEZEKA YA KUISHI.

NUFF NUFF RESPECT SISTER LIZ.

Odegle said...

your blog continuously exceeds expectations my dear!

AFRICAN LIZ said...

Luihamu habari mshikaji ...basi hapa nime wakilisha ama vipi!!!!

Barbados in Focus it's always nice to know we have funs for our talented African music artists on this side of the Atlantic pond. Though Alpha's experience in New York was not a pleasant one, I believe his experiences and contacts he made influenced him and shaped his character as an individual and his music ...contributing to the person he later became to be. So i guess it was not all in vain.

Alpha Blondy brings back memories growing up in Africa and tunning in to watch the local TV show that showcases African music artists URTNA.

Alpha was frequently aired on the show performing before his fans in Ivory Coast...and we be jumping up and down trying to imitate our reggae maestro:))))) and shouting out our lungs Me feel ire ire ....

He was touring and having shows Brazil in May 2007...however he has not been touring much of the African continent and it would be great if he did....may be a reggae fest in one of the African countries with fellow artists such as Lucky Dube, Ras Kimono and the massive dread band etc etc

Aliko said...

As you can see the vibe keeps on knocking the doors open keep the good work! by the way you havent mentioned the making of the Jerusalem album i heard years ago that it included the legendary WAILERS?

luihamu said...

Sister Liz hapo umewakilisha kabisa,asante sana.

Ukipata muda naomba utupe picha na mazingira ya Itiopia sanasana Shashamane(the promised land)

Nuff Nuff Respect sister Liz.

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