Wazimbo’s warm voice is one of Mozambique’s most beautiful. With Orchestra Marrabenta, his urban style, electrifying guitars and soul-tinged voices added to the heydey of Maputo.
Born Humberto Carlos Benfica in 1948 in Chibuto, Mozambique, Wazimbo is now one of the best known singers of marrabenta, a typically Mozambican musical style that emerged in the 1930s, blending traditional rhythms with Portuguese and western styles. Wazimbo is a leading light who maintains a contagious passion for this type of music.
Wazimbo grew up in the capital, Lourenço Marques (now Maputo), and decided at an early age that he would be a professional singer. His wish was fulfilled: he began singing in 1964 in the group Silverstars and later joined the Geiziers. Their music was then a blend of international pop with Brazilian influences. At that time, Maputo was a nightlife hot spot for South Africans, and the lively musical scene was favourable to a creative spirit like Wazimbo. In 1972, however, he settled in Angola and stayed there two years before returning to Mozambique.
Just after independence, in 1975, he became involved in the national radio orchestra of Radio Moçambique, and in 1979 he joined the group Marrabenta Star de Moçambique, quickly becoming its lead singer. Under his influence, bringing in electric guitars, horns and talented singers, the band developed its own marrabenta style. Success was not long in coming. But the civil war then raging in Mozambique lessened chances for development. The group went into exile in Zimbabwe, began a tour in Europe and brought out two albums, IndepenDance and Marrabenta Piquenique.
In 1995, the members of Marrabenta Star de Moçambique split. Wazimbo wnt off on his own. He recorded Makwero in South Africa and issued another album in 2001 repeating one of the band’s great hits, Nwahulwana (Night Bird), recorded off the cuff, lost and then found again. The song is to be used in a Microsoft ad and in the Sean Penn film The Pledge.
Since then, he has continued to perform on stages around the world. A new album is expected later in 2012. One sure thing is that the “Golden Voice” of Mozambique, as he is nicknamed, has lost nothing of his lustre and continues to rally his audiences.
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Concerts of the artist:
Festival International Nuits d'Afrique -Compilation 2012