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Music from Rwanda


The music of Rwanda largely consists of African folk music performed by its people. Traditional music and dance are taught in "amatorero" dance groups, which are found across the country. The most famous of these is the Ballet National Urukerereza, which was created in the early 1970's to represent Rwanda in international events. Also famous were the Amasimbi n'amakombe and Irindiro dance troupes.

The ikinimba is perhaps the most revered musical tradition in Rwanda. It is a dance that tells the stories of Rwandan heroes and kings, accompanied by instruments like ingoma, ikembe, iningiri, umuduri and inanga. The inanga, a lyre-like string instrument, has been played many of Rwanda's best-known performers, including Rujindiri, Sebatunzi, Rwishyura, Simparingoma, Sentoré, Kirusu, Sophie and Victor Kabarira, and Simon Bikindi.

Due to situations in the past, many Rwandans have moved overseas in recent years, bringing their country's music to cities like Brussels and Paris. For many years, Rwandan-Belgian Cécile Kayirebwa was arguably the most internationally famous Rwandan musician, until the late 1990's arrival of Rwandan-Canadian Corneille and Jean-Paul Samputu. Before the chaotic 1990s, Rwanda produced popular local bands like Imena, Nyampinga, Les 8 Anges, Les Fellows, Impala, Abamarungu, Los Compagnons de la Chanson, Bisa, Ingenzi, and Isibo y'Ishakwe. They took influences from across Africa, especially the Congo, as well as Caribbean zouk andreggae. Following the civil war, music gradually returned to the country, and new stars arose, the most prominent of which is probably Aimé Murefu, a guitarist that draws upon American rock and blues guitarists like Jimi Hendrix, BB King and Carlos Santana.

Jean-Paul Samputu, along with his group Ingeli, won two Kora awards (African Grammy awards) for "Most Inspiring Artist" and "Best Traditional Artist" in 2003 for their performance of neo-traditional Rwandan music. The group tours the world spreading the Christian message of peace and reconciliation, and helps raise money for the many orphans of Rwanda. In 2007 Samputu brought twelve of these orphans, known as Mizero Children of Rwanda, to tour the U.S. and Canada. Cyprien Kagorora was nominated for a 2005 Kora Award in the category of "Best Traditional Artist". He is among the most recognizable male vocalists in Rwanda.

Rwandan youth perform the most popular music in Rwanda. Many have adopted or adapted styles from East Africa or Western genres, most notably including hip-hop. Riderman is among the most famous Rwandan hip-hop performers. Others, like Mani Martin, perform more traditional genres of Rwandan music.

The music industry in Rwanda is gradually growing and becoming more professionalized. An increasing number of companies are investing in the development of new talent, including the production of major music festivals like Kigali Up! and Primus Guma Guma Superstar, and the music competition television show, Ishusho K'umuziki Nyarwanda.

Enjoy Rwanda

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