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Bonga's voice hits like a full-throttle race car, his gravelly tones on the brink of collapse as he pours forth his soul. Barcelo de Carvalho, an Angolan track and soccer star, was exiled in the Netherlands in 1972 for speaking out against Portuguese colonialism; under the name Bonga, he recorded an album using guitars and drums while mixing Central African folkloric music with that of Brazil. The record made an instant impact, and his overt politics earned him an arrest warrant until Angola's independence in 1975. The exile experience added to his musical repertoire as he learned styles from Cape Verde and other Lusophone countries -- namely, mornas, Fado, soukous and Samba. Whether upbeat or downtempo, there's a danceable sophistication to Bonga's compositions. His sadly sweet vocal refrains are so compelling, they transcend any language barrier.
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