Staff Benda Bilili Biography (Wikipedia)
Staff Benda Bilili are a group of street musicians in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. They used to live around the grounds of the zoo in the country's capital city, Kinshasa, and play music which is rooted in soukous, with elements of old-school rhythm and blues and reggae. The core of the band consists of four senior singers/guitarists, who are paraplegic (they had poliomyelitis when they were young) and move around in spectacularly customized tricycles. They are backed by a younger rhythm section consisting of abandoned street children who were taken under the protection of the older members of the band. The soloist is an 18-year-old boy (2009) who plays guitar-like solos on an electrified one-stringed lute he designed and built himself out of a tin can. The group's name translates roughly from Lingala as "look beyond appearances".
Staff Benda Bilili earned the 2009 Artist Award at Womex (World Music Expo).
The group has sought to raise awareness about crimes against humanity in Democratic Republic of the Congo, contributing to the Enough Project and Downtown Records' Raise Hope for Congo compilation.
Staff Benda Bilili Tracks