Africa Oyé Announce First Wave For 2020

Les Amazones D’Afrique, Santrofi and Valerie Ekoume grace the Sefton Park stage.

By Shaun Ponsonby
Wed 26 February, 2020

Africa Oyé have revealed the first three live music acts for their 2020 festival of music and culture in Liverpool.

Female pan-African supergroup, Les Amazones D’Afrique, Ghanian highlife stars, Santrofi and Cameroonian songstress Valerie Ekoume will all grace the Sefton Park stage when the festival returns for its 28th annual event.

An all-female collective of West African musicians, Les Amazones D’Afrique made a huge impact across the globe with their 2017 debut album, République Amazone. Singing out against gender inequality, FGM and ancestral violence, the group firmly believe that “music has the potential to be a weapon against the systematic disempowerment of women across Africa and beyond“.

While their cause is worthy enough in itself, their musical creative expression is equally powerful. Richly melodic and far-ranging, it blends pan-African styles and collaborative harmonies with gritty, contemporary pop, and the Congotronix-style production of legendary producer Doctor L.

Following in the footsteps of Ebo Taylor and Pat Thomas & the Kwashibu Area Band, Santrofi is a collective of celebrated young musicians known well within Ghana’s music circles.

After extensive touring with the aforementioned stars of their homeland, bassist/producer Emmanuel Ofori rose to form his own collective, deeply informed by vintage Ghanaian highlife music in all its variations, some largely unknown to the world.

These sounds range from the smelting, soulful highlife, that can only be nurtured by Accra’s afternoon scorch, to the riveting fast-paced pulse of 70s dance-guitar highlife. Or from the other-worldly sound of highlife funk to 50s big band highlife and the polyrhythmic beats and melodies that took Afrobeat across the globe.

Growing up in a family of musicians, Valérie Ekoumè is a French-Cameroonian singer who was raised listening to various musical styles, from congolese rumba and traditional Cameroonian music to mainstream eighties pop. She credits Miriam Makeba (Mama Africa) and Whitney Houston as her “virtual vocal coaches”, as she found herself singing along to their music at every opportunity at home.

This first wave artist reveal comes off the back of a call to action for all fans of the festival, as organisers stressed the importance of donations, sponsorship and investment in ensuring the event remains free entry and open to all.

Click here to donate to Africa Oyé

The event has been free entry since the first ever edition in 1992 when it began as a series of shows across city centre venues in Liverpool.

It has since showcased the finest in African and Caribbean music in Concert Square, Princes Park and even across the water in Birkenhead, before it made Sefton Park its home in 2005, where it has since taken place annually every June.

Recent years have seen the popularity of the festival soar, attracting a footfall of 80,000 people in its record breaking year in 2017.

The infrastructure costs that come with the increased audience numbers – added security, medical staff, and toilets to name just a few – have been a constant challenge year on year.

It’s something we’ve said many times before but it still rings true; Oyé is a victim of its own success. Our audience went up by thousands over a relatively short period of time. We’re grateful for the support we receive from Arts Council England and Liverpool City Council, but unfortunately due to rising costs, we need more support to keep the festival free.” says Oyé’s Artistic Director, Paul Duhaney.

Oyé – a registered charity – has set up an online donations button on its website which can be found on the Africa Oyé homepage as well as a Friends of Oyé scheme for those who are able to contribute a bit more on an annual basis.

Paul explained, “I think people look at the size of the event we put on each year and assume there’s a massive team of people behind it, when the reality is we have one full-time member of staff and just a handful of part-timers working throughout the year to make this happen.”

To donate to Africa Oyé online, supporters can click the Paypal donate button on the Africa Oyé homepage.

Africa Oyé will take place on 20th and 21st June 2020, in Liverpool’s Sefton Park from 12:30pm til 9:30pm both days and entrance is FREE.