Take a Musical Journey to the Land of Yangalele with Papa Siama and Auntie Dallas

With their lively interactive world music concerts and “instrument petting zoos” around the Twin Cities, Congolese-American artist “Papa Siama” Matuzungidi and singer/emcee “Auntie Dallas” Johnson are introducing children to African culture, rhythms and music. Inspired by happy experiences with their growing young fan base, Siama and Dallas will release an album of new original rumba songs and rhythms called Land of Yangalele this spring.


As Siama says in the opening track, “Welcome to Bas Congo, land of yangalele, smiles, games, dancing and music.” These capture the feeling of the all-ages sing-alongs which Siama remembers from his childhood in rural Zaire (now Democratic Republic of the Congo. After dinner, generations of family and friends would sit outside under the stars to share songs and stories together.

Congolese guitar man Siama (“see-AHmah”) enjoyed a prolific soukous career in Africa during the 1970s and ‘80s. Over his two decades in the United States, Siama has emerged as one of Minnesota’s foremost voices of global roots music. His intricate guitar style, spirited vocals and feel-good songs make him a crowd favorite. Dallas Johnson’s robust background in music, storytelling and community arts organizing makes their all-ages shows distinctly educational and interactive as well as entertaining.

Using traditional instruments and lyrics in English, Swahili, Lingala and Kikongo, this new recording provides listeners an opportunity to learn about a vibrant African culture through engaging music.  Dallas’ strong female voice adds just the right harmony to Siama’s deep vocals and Siama performs most of the instruments himself, employing acoustic guitar and bass as well as traditional instruments like balafon (calabash marimba), mbira (thumb piano), and Jamaican rumba box.  Dallas adds fun flavors like penny whistle and toy piano and David Tullis drives the sound with conga drums.

Audience participation is expected from the very first track, “Welcome Bakongo Chant,” and continues with “Monkey Game”, “Ko Yimbi Ko” (No Hawk, No) and “Auntie’s Song” (Yangalele). “It’s So Easy To Make a Song” and “ABCD” celebrate a child’s power to create and learn, a love for the natural world is evident in songs like “Sweet Water,” and a yearning for peace and freedom shines in, ”When We’re Free” and “Nalingi Bosembo” (Peace Lullaby).

The colorful album liner notes include lyrics and guitar chords, a glossary (“Yangalele” means happiness in Kikongo), an African map, pictures of instruments, and a fun quiz to enhance the educational fun relating to these 10 tracks. Discover more and download the lyrics and a coloring page by award-winning cover illustrator Kayla Harren at SiamaMusic.com.

Land of Yangalele is available directly from SiamaMusic.com now, and it will be available from various retailers on March 23. Music videos and several public family concerts are planned at Twin Cities libraries and community venues this spring.

Watch a special Twin Cities PBS program about Siama’s life and music here or watch him playing mbira with singing birds near the headwaters of the Mississippi River on his YouTube channel.

This music is fun and lively and I really recommend this one for younger children! They will enjoy dancing to this CD!~SoCal City Kids.

Self Disclosure: Information and images were provided by Sugar Mountain PR. I also received a free CD but only feature CD’s that I recommend. 


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