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Sir Elvis in "Loving Man" (Youtube)

6 African Country Musicians You Should Check Out

Featuring Sir Elvis, Jess Sah Bi & Peter One, Emma Ogosi and more.

With Lil Nas X's EP going straight to number on the American charts, it seems like country music revival is taking over 2019 and beyond, thanks to its unlikely fusion with trap music. It only makes sense that black people are reclaiming the genre, as country was actually partly created by black American artists and heavily influenced by gospel music.

On top of that, plenty of lesser known black artists and bands are making country, or country-infused, music. This is especially the case in Africa, where the genre has been around for a few decades and an increasing number of musicians are gaining momentum. By gaining popularity in Africa, country is coming back to its roots, as country guitar and the way of playing it was originally inspired by the banjo— an instrument that African slaves brought with them to America.

Country music has a strong appeal across the African continent for several reasons: the similarity with many African instruments and the recurring lyrics and themes about love, heartbreak and "the land." At the heart of it, country music has an appeal to working class people all over the world who feel let down by the people that were supposed to help them.

Country music is played regularly on the radio in countries such as Kenya, Tanzania and Malawi but yet, the artists featured are overwhelmingly white and American. African country singers do not get the respect they deserve or are seen as anomalies. With the growing number of them making country music, here is a list of the ones you need to listen to right now.

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Jess Sah Bi and Peter One. Photo courtesy of Awesome Tapes From Africa.

Jess Sah Bi & Peter One's West African Country-Folk Masterpiece

We talk to the Côte d'Ivoire duo about their classic 1985 album, Our Garden Needs Its Flowers, which was reissued earlier this year.

Songwriters Jess Sah Bi and Peter One met in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire as college students during the early 1980s. Bonding over a mutual love of grassroots country acts like Don Williams, Kenny Rogers and The Eagles, the musical duo wrote and recorded an album of country songs called Our Garden Needs Its Flowers.

These tracks were the first of their kind, performed in French, English and Gouro for maximum audience exposure. The fresh, yet familiar new sound appealed to young and old listeners alike, quickly sparking a nationwide craze of country, folk and Americana music. The 8-track classic album was reissued this summer on Brian Shimkovitz's popular music blog-turned-record label Awesome Tapes From Africa.

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