Togo All Stars
Togolese afrofunk & voodoo-rhythms
In the middle of the night, The Togo All Stars performed on a LOFT edition back in 2018. It has been a few years, but soon in January, they’ll be back in VERA!
The heavy-rhythmic sound of fluid guitars and pulsating horns provide the backbone of The Togo All Stars. But there is more to it than that: a distinctive Togolese sound drenched in afrofunk and voodoo-rhythms.
The band combines the best of two generations. Lead singer Aguey Cudjoe was an afrofunk pioneer in Accra back in the 1970’s – when the music of West-Africa was at a creative high – and influenced by American jazz and soul. Next to him you will find the young Awumakuga Otu Rodrigue. As the most talented young singer of Lomé he has made it his mission to carry on the Afrobeat legacy of his idol Fela Kuti.
Over the years, the band has amassed a spectacular live reputation. Shows at festivals like North Sea Jazz Festival and Down the Rabbit Hole and venues like Paradiso, Amsterdam were received with great enthusiasm.
Since Togo All Stars’ debut album in 2018, they have been reinventing themselves constantly. Creative director Energy Federator (Ekue Leopold Messan) introduced players from abroad for new album Fâ, named after a spiritual system that carries the stories, rhythms, songs and time-tested wisdom of the ancestors.
Since Togo and neighbouring country Benin are considered the heart of voodoo culture, voodoo exists at the core of the All Stars’ music. Voodoo is all about music: every god has his own rhythm and his own chants. Voodoo also stands for dualism, where bad and good meet and where woman and man are the same entity. You cannot talk about one without the other. So there couldn’t be Togo All Stars without the female stars of the band: Agbolotovi Sexy and Dodji Alice.
The influence of the West-African religion on modern music cannot be underestimated, although it often is. In fact, it’s very logical to combine voodoo with funk, since voodoo travelled with the slave trade to the Americas. In ‘The New World’ it was banned by planters who feared spirituality and the beat of the drum. That’s where voodoo got its undeserved bad name. But it survived underground, in music. The chants and beats nested in what we now call jazz, salsa, blues and funk. If you want to hear traditional drumbeats mixed with afrofunk, you should come and see the Togo All Stars!