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Habib Koité Joins Afropop Hall of Fame

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Tuesday November 14, 2006

History made at “Putumayo Presents Acoustic Africa,” in New York City
Sean Barlow, Afropop Worldwide

On Tuesday, November 14, 2006, the Afropop Hall of Fame inducted three outstanding artists to its ranks—Habib Koité, Vusi Mahlasela, and Dobet Gnahoré. Past inductees include Youssou N’Dour, Baaba Maal, the Mahotella Queens, and Thomas Mapfumo. The Afropop Hall of Fame honors artists for their artistic excellence, and also their significant role in connecting Americans to Africa .

The 2006 Afropop Hall of Fame took place before a rapturous, sold-out crowd at the B.B. King Blues Club in New York as part of the hugely successful “Putumayo Presents: Acoustic Africa” nation-wide tour. We all felt lucky to be there as this constellation of stars may never appear on the same stage again. And unlike a typical three-set presentation, Habib, Vusi and Dobet all performed on each other’s songs, and interchanged musicians in constantly shifting lineups that added new textures and vocal power to familiar songs, and broke new ground as well. Vusi, who often performs solo, sounded supercharged with a full backing band of mixed musicians from Habib’s and Dobet’s bands. The Vusi Mahlesela and Dobet Gnahoré share the stage show, which ran nearly three hours, concluded spectacularly with the three principals harmonizing together Vusi’s signature “When You Come Back,” Habib’s first hit “Cigerette Abana,” and the SA classic “Pata Pata.” It was a thrilling and rowdy wrap up to one of the most varied nights of music we have ever seen.

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