Formed over 50 years ago in a nightclub in Dakar, Senegal, the Baobab Orchestra continues to be one of the most popular bands in the country. The Baobab Club provided the Senegal Baobab Orchestra with their namesake, but when the popular venue closed its doors in 1979, the band continued to thrive.
The musicians of the Baobab Orchestra combine African and Cuban musical influences creating their own unique sound. The founding members of the band hail from all over West Africa, including their musical legacies such as Wolof and Maninke in sound. The musical style, Cuban Son, found its way to Senegal with people hiding on boats leaving Cuba for Africa during the 19th century.
Originally the band consisted of seven members but over time has added more musicians. Some families even have multiple generations that have belonged to the Baobab Orchestra. Singers, saxophonists, percussionists and guitarists combine their musical talents to create a unique sound. Members incorporate sounds from different cultures, including reggae, Portuguese Creole, Senegalese folk music, and American jazz.
With the introduction of mbalax – a type of fast-paced pop music – in Senegal in the 1890s, the Baobab Orchestra saw its popularity in decline. In 1987 the group took a break, but as globalization spread and international fans heard the Boabab Orchestra for the first time in the late 1990s and early 2000s, the band reformed in 2001.
The band received a Grammy nomination in 2002 for their album “Specialist in All Styles”. Orchestra Baobab continues to tour internationally and has released over 20 albums in five decades.
To know more:
The biggest band from Senegal after 50 years