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Pre-Course Assignment #1 – Orchestra Baobab

Orchestra Baobab formed in Dakar, Senegal in 1970. They were the sole entertaining band for the Baobab club, then the nicest in Senegal. The band took its name from the club, which took its name from its bar made out of Baobab tree trunk. They were influenced by cuban music, which flooded French-ruled West Africa, but notably added an African influence. They helped break through the prevalence of cuban music and make pan-African music more popular. They faded in popularity in the 1980s, as they chose not to conform to the dance music trends of the time. Members were struggling and gradually leaving, at the same time that they were gaining attention in the Western world. They broke up in 1985. World Circuit Records and Youssou N’Dour (a fan of theirs) helped instigate their revival in 2001. They were arranged to appear at a Dakar concert at London’s Barbican, which was a smash hit. Their return was welcomed and they enjoyed new success.

A performance of their popular song, “Nijaay” in 2017: