Fredy Massamba live at Sugarfactory, Amsterdam

By Elizabeth Mbundu

The weather in Amsterdam has created some big challenges for Fredy Massamba, but as the start of the autumn season coincided with the sudden arctic conditions, the dancer and singer from Congo Brazzaville and his band, rose to the challenge.

Booked to perform for his second time in Amsterdam’s by African entertainment company Yangambi, Massamba managed to defy the weather gods, in order to bring tropical and sweltering sounds into the Sugarfactory venues.

People attended the set early and – to no surprise – were eager to get the party started. Massamba, described by many as a golden gem of African music, opened with the first song ‘Ngunga’ from his latest album ‘Makasi’, which means ‘strength’ in Lingala.

 You may not understand what he sings about, but the crowd didn’t mind. Everybody was feeling it: White, Blacks, Asians, they all broke loose. Fredy: ‘I feel that Africa is the future. The African rhythm is the tune of tomorrow.’ Using traditional djembés, piano and percussion instruments, he even adds his own body to the repertoire, by beating on his chest, producing sounds that were new to many ears. ‘My music is universal, but I go back to the traditional African music. My music is influenced by pygmy tones. I mix these sounds with ndombolo, rumba and bateteke.’

The politically engaged song Unity featuring Tumi Molekane is a great example how Massamba dreams about a united Africa. ‘Africa is my mother, he says, ‘I came to Europe in exile I was more in Africa than Europe’. While working and touring with many talented artists such as Zap Mama, Didier Awady, Erykah Badu and The Roots, Fredy developed his own material, writing personal songs about the Congo, his people, his experiences, about love and tolerance. Often labeled as an Afro Soul singer, he tries to shake off that stamp. I asked him why: A soul is a soul, even the white man has a soul. As soon as you say you’re from Africa, they will name it Afro Soul. I just call it modern roots music.

Fredy doesn’t mind to share the spot lights. You could tell it, when dancers from the Afro Vibes crew battled against each other, while Fredy was playing the djembé. At one point even the audience chimed in. It was really the highlight of the night.

Fredy is a true star with the exception of the attitude that comes with being one. Very humble and open, he took his time to talk to the fans and take pictures with them. Would you like to get a taste of his music, check his music online on Itunes, Spotify or in stores.

Enjoy the video of the concert…. He is really a great live performer. If you are looking for an artist that brings contemporary African music with a traditional touch to it, then look no further.