Photo courtesy of Jonathan Henderson
Diali Cissokho and Kaira Ba in Senegal
Securing a surprise nomination via email from a mysterious pan-African music organization based in Nigeria would rightly inspire some skepticism. “It was totally like one of those emails,” says Kaira Ba bassist Jonathan Henderson.
But the band did some digging and realized this was no scam. Indeed, Diali Cissoko and Kaira Ba had been nominated for “Best African Group” by AFRIMA, the All African Music Awards.
The awards are a new initiative to promote and preserve Africa’s musical heritage. The event is in partnership with the African Union. Organizers and partners worked together to curate nominations and design an award show that will be broadcast on more than 130 stations around Africa. The continent-wide press bump they’ll receive as a part of their nomination might be reward enough, but AFRIMA is also flying two members of the band, Cissokho and percussionist Will Ridenour, to Lagos to attend the ceremony and associated events.
As the sole non-African band in their category, the story of just how they landed this recognition is still a bit hazy. “It makes sense to me that it’s finding appreciation because I think people can really identify with his lyrics,” says Henderson, who cites targeted Facebook promotions and a recent trip by Diali Cissokho home to Senegal as possible sources.
“It’s one of these interesting situations where we have really no idea exactly who the music’s finding over there, but it seems to be making its way around,” he says. “It feels really exciting, on one hand. On the other hand, I feel totally humbled by the nomination and am aware that it’s a tricky dynamic to be white, U.S.-based people nominated for this award given the history of cultural appropriation and colonization in that part of the world.”
Public voting for the award is open, and you can cast your vote here
Local fans can catch the band with Scythian at the Cat’s Cradle November 15th and look forward to a new 7” of remixes on Jan. 24, 2015. Follow along with these and other band updates here