We had the pleasure of covering a free, yet exclusive show this weekend at the Levitt Pavilion headlined by a group currently based in Brooklyn named Kaleta Super Yamba Band. Led by vocalist Leon Ligan-Majek a.k.a. “Kaleta”, they come together ascending from his native home roots to spread peace and love but most importantly, knowledge. Doing so thru their music and efforts around a variety of communities/events such as this show. Being a free show, it was an event organized to simply bring people together, which is exactly what happened. Even with the skies turning to rain clouds, love and energy were vibrant and in the air.
Co-hosting the event was a local artist by the name of Zanib along with her band mates. Zanib is a vocalist, violinist, and ukulele performer. She creates sounds that spread messages of positivity, hope, and beauty of the soul. The theme of the evening was inspired by the African culture, and Zanib with her band dove in head first and performed beautifully.
“Brooklyn’s Kaleta & Super Yamba Band are fronted by Afrobeat and Juju veteran Leon Ligan-Majek a.k.a. Kaleta. The singer/guitarist from the West African country of Benin Republic lived his adolescent life in Lagos, Nigeria where Afrobeat was born. Kaleta’s guitar chops earned him decades of touring and recording with Fela Kuti, King Sunny Ade, Lauryn Hill, and more. Kaleta got his start in the late 70s performing in church and was soon after picked up by iconic Juju master and world music pioneer King Sunny Ade. A few years later Fela Kuti came calling. Kaleta would go on to tour the world playing guitar for the King of Afrobeat in his storied band Egypt 80 through the 1980s and into the 1990s.
Now based in New York City, Kaleta has been leading Super Yamba Band since 2017. Their debut album “Mèdaho,” which was released by California indie label Ubiquity Records, draws on the group’s shared reverence for the raw, psychedelic sounds that captivated Kaleta as a music-loving kid in 1970s Benin. Mèdaho means “big brother,” “elder” or “teacher” and is dedicated to Kaleta’s late brother Ligan-Ozavino Pascal who introduced him to funk and soul music at a very early age. The album was included on Bandcamp’s “Best Albums of Summer 2019” list and two of the songs were chosen for the ABC/Hulu series High Fidelity starring Zoe Kravitz.
Kaleta and his band have also erupted onto the stages and video screens of major music festivals and music publications across the US. They performed at the historic Apollo Theatre in 2019. They even prompted Action Bronson to stop his own show on VICELAND TV just so he could hear more Yamba. They also performed on Adult Swim’s Fishcenter Live show in 2019. In 2017 they rocked Paste Magazine’s Emerging Music Festival in NYC and after that performance Afropop Worldwide fell in love with Kaleta, saying “his James Brown grunts have got to be some of the best in the business!”
The members of Super Yamba Band have honed their craft performing with a diverse range of artists such as David Byrne, Rubblebucket, Yeasayer, and Between The Buried And Me to name a few. Collaborating over several years with Senegalese griot and talking drum master Modou Mbenge, known best for his work with African pop star Abdou Guite Seck, was a defining moment in the development of Super Yamba’s sound and the musician’s understanding of the African music tradition. Super Yamba has also collaborated with Ghanaian singer Osei Korankye and Guinean singer Ismael Kouyate.”
It was such a great pleasure getting the chance to meet so many great people that helped host the event, and encourage you to follow along with their progression as they continue to spread their wealth of knowledge as they send on their journey with the link(s) below.
Kaleta Super Yamba Band – https://www.superyambaband.com – (Source)
Photo Credit: Jason Simmons