Now in his fifties, Fredy Massamba is, as he says, “uninfluenceable musically,” and remains in a class of his own. On his YouTube channel, he takes on the title of “Congo’s voice of Afro-soul,” a reflection of his values and the pride he takes in his musical journey that began in Pointe-Noire and has extended to the four corners of the world. Massamba still bears the stamp of his younger days, notably the Tambours de Brazza from the 1990s, which is still evident on his latest album, Trancestral, in which he transcends his ancestral legacy by bringing it into the future. Free of sentimentality, the singer demonstrates his in-depth knowledge of Congo-Brazzaville’s musical repertoire from the 1960s. 


With Fredy Massamba, we enter into the deep equatorial forest of the Kingdom of Kongo, where the tribes celebrate life’s seasons. We are invited to take part in this entrancing whirlwind with “Buyelele” and “Bandeko” — a hymn to unity without betrayal — made all the more sublime with the voice of Malian griot Djely Tapa, a recent collaborator who we can’t get enough of. Always in tune with the times, this ageless artist is mindful of human and social fragility, and the struggles his people face. He becomes a voice for the voiceless, as in the poignant “Keriko.”


Gifted by the gods, this talented singer-songwriter has rubbed shoulders with stars such as Tiken Jah Fakoly, Didier Awadi and Salif Keita and of course fellow Congolese artists Lokua Kanza and Mory Kanté. All have contributed to enriching the unique repertoire of an artist who in 2014 was crowned Best World Music Artist at the Sabam Awards (of the Belgian association of authors, composers and publishers) and, at the 2020 Afro Artistic Awards, he received an award in tribute to his illustrious career. This champion of Congolese rumba and hip-hop artist also draws from soul and reggae to create his unique Fredy Massamba sound. 


Festival international Nuits d'Afrique - 38e