Alpha Blondy Biography

Seydou Koné, 1 January 1953, Dimbokoro, Ivory Coast. During the mid-80s, reggae vocalist Blondy, whose name translates as First Bandit, became one of West Africa’s most successful band leaders, his songs widely covered by other local reggae artists. Adopting not only the rhythms and instrumental arrangements of Jamaican reggae, Blondy also followed its tradition of militant protest lyrics. His embracing of reggae and rasta was not without its problems; after he returned in 1981 from two years’ study at Columbia University in the USA, his parents committed him to a psychiatric hospital for 18 months because of his Rasta beliefs. Although he dressed as a Rasta, Blondy took to travelling everywhere with the Star of David, a copy of the bible, and one of the Koran.

After releasing 1985’s searing Apartheid Is Nazism album, Blondy took the logical next step of flying to Jamaica to record the follow-up, Jerusalem, with the Wailers. By the early 90s he had established himself as an international star with such releases as Revolution and Masada. His backing band the Solar System supported him on many of these recordings. Blondy has continued to release a steady stream of studio albums, notably 1998’s Yitzhak Rabin, and is particularly popular and commercially successful in France.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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