Sat. January 25, 7 & 9 p.m.

Cheikh Lo

Cheikh N'Digel Lô is a Senegalese musician, who draws upon his culture and faith to bring spiritual, transformative music to his listeners.

Note: This is a past event. For upcoming events, click here.

Cheikh Lô looks like good fun from the off, attractive, unique, with Ray Bans glued onto a craggy face. An extremely slender frame enveloped by dreadlocks that mark out his membership of the Muslim sect Baye Fall; a wide-braided leather necklace, offering protection from the evil eye. Cheikh Lô has added a personal touch to this spiritual shield: embroidered tunics and a woven cotton frock coat complement the jeans, with their deliberate rips, finished off by sneakers with a pop art design. Sometimes, he'll be wearing a hat. He's swag. These adornments provide a stage for the voice. And the voice of Cheikh Lô is unique, cosmopolitan, graceful, slender and high-pitched, pulsating irregularly.

It can also switch suddenly to the bass line of Afro-beat, since the Nigerian Fela Kuti had left his mark on Senegal and Burkina Faso as well. And Cheikh also worked with the historical Afrobeat drummer Tony Allen in 2010. Cheikh Lô has forty years of music in his dreadlocks. He started out as a drummer. "From Bobo Dioulasso to Dakar", summarises the chilled-out guy. Born in 1955 in Burkina Faso's second city, where his father was a jeweller, this passionate Senegalese man took his first orchestral steps with Volta Jazz. The ensemble, one of the best in post-independence West Africa, revisited Cuban song, classics from the Congolese Tabu Ley Rochereau and created Creole-style dance pieces.

These days Cheikh Lô lives in Keur Massar, in the suburbs of Dakar. He has maintained an enlightened faith in the pathway taken by Cheikh Ibrahima Fall (1858-1930), founder of the Baye Fall, a branch of the Mouride brotherhood. "Work as if you will never die, and pray to God as if you will die tomorrow", said the man who established the n'djajne (dreads) as symbols of ardour to the task - "He didn't have time to spend on his hair" says Cheikh Lô rolling his wild hair into twists.

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