Picture Azgo Festival.
Azgo Festival is Mozambique’s finest international arts festival; bringing together a diverse and quality program of music, dance, arts and fashion to the city of Maputo. Azgo is a contemporary celebration of arts and culture, with a strong focus on artists from Mozambique and from around the continent of Africa.
 
“Sounds represented at the festival, happening at Eduardo Mondlane University, span everything from jazz, soul, marrabenta, samba, afro-beat, hip-hop, pop, electronica, reggae and much more!” Says organizer Paulo Chibanga of 340 ml fame. “This year South Africa is represented by Freshlyground, Ray Phiri, Batuk, Nonku Phiri and Vukazithathe.”
 
Leading the charge is Brazilian singer-songwriter Maria Gadú, whose fusion of samba, afrobeat and funk, has led her to become one of the fastest-rising stars of popular Brazilian music, with four CDs and two Latin Grammy Awards to her name, her hit song ‘Shimbalaiê’ will be the anthem of Azgo 2017.
 
From Cape Verde Azgo Festival welcomes Ângelo César do Rosário Firmino, better known as Boss AC, he is a groundbreaking Cape Verdean rapper based in Portugal. Throughout his career he has fused African rhythms with traditional Portuguese sounds along with hip-hop, ragga, soul and R&B.
 
From South Africa, Azgo Festival is excited to have the legendary Ray Phiri coming to Maputo for the first time in decades, Ray is the voice of Stimela, the guitar rhythms of Paul Simon's Graceland and one of the most highly regarded musicians on the continent. Ray has always been driven by a deep curiosity for the world around him and a passion for making music that’s deeply planted in the country that he was born into. Neither of these have diminished as he’s grown older.  “I’m a student of life and I’ll never stop discovering, creating, and exploring” says Phiri. “In the end, it’s your art that remains when everything else has gone.”
 
Freshlyground are back with a new single called ‘Banana Republic’ and it will be their first show in Maputo since Azgo Festival 2013. They are one of the most acclaimed and successful bands to emerge from South Africa in recent years, blending the infectious kwela style and musical traditions from Zimbabwe and Mozambique with elements of pop, jazz, blues and indie rock.
 
Batuk is a creative collective founded by South African electronic music producers Aero Manyelo and Spoek Mathambo alongside prolific artist and lead vocalist Manteiga from Mozambique. The eclectic ensemble is on a quest to connect the African diaspora by exchanging and sharing rhythm culture and language while fusing it with electrifying house beats. With influences from afrohouse, soul, zouk, kuduro, deep house, techno and traditional African music, the trio represents the spirit of proudly African youth with a global state of mind.
 
Nonku Phiri has one of the most distinctive, influential voices on South Africa’s future electronic music landscape. Nonku has an ability to express and perform over a number of genres spanning; house, electronica, hip- hop and kwaito. Her first single ‘Things We Do on the Weekend’ became an instant classic with its refreshing future kwaito beats accompanied by her sultry vocals. Her follow up single; ‘Regrettables’, is another stellar artwork to add to her catalogue.
 
Bhekisenzo Cele aka Vukazithathe is a multi-instrumentalist, composer and singer with a powerful energy and a great knack for improvisation. He is a veteran of the south coast KwaZulu-Natal music scene. Raised by both a mother and father who played guitar, Maskandi music runs in his blood. A practitioner of Maskandi music (modern-day Zulu folk), Bhekisenzo has shown a strong will and ability to differentiate himself in a highly competitive and populated music scene. Vukazithathe sings, plays bass guitar, guitar, concertina, and improvises on violin and harmonica.
 
From Portugal,  Azgo Festival welcomes Joao Barbosa AKA Branko, who first became known on the international scene as the driving creative force in Buraka som Sistema, the worldwide phenomenon whose releases helped create a new attitude towards global sounds. The seminal collective is responsible for reshaping dance music culture and spawning a myriad of sub-genres that shaped the Global Club Music scene and were championed by the producer's label Enchufada.
 
Hypnotic...sultry...vulnerable...empowering. These words come to mind when first experiencing the music of Jojo Abot, the Ghanaian singer-songwriter who is poised to capture the ears of discerning listeners worldwide with her experimental blend of electronica, afrobeat, jazz, neo-soul, house and reggae. Creating across continents and dividing her time between Accra, Copenhagen and New York City, Jojo Abot's emergence onto the global music scene marks the genesis of an exciting new talent and sound. Presenting the best of multiple worlds, Jojo Abot's music is truly a cultural and musical sonic fusion, a perfect and growing melting pot...
 
Grèn Sémé from Reunion Island fuse rock poetry, dub pulsations and ternary rhythms, into a new sound where creole and maloya from Reunion Island meet with Brel, Bashung and Noir Désir. Three years after a first album, largely hailed, the band reaches new heights with their new album Hors Sol a perfect balance between strength and fragility and comes out as one of the most original voice on the French-speaking scene.
 
From Mozambique Azgo’s organisers are excited to have a diverse range of acts representing the past, present and future of Mozambique music.
 
Ghorwane are Mozambique's most successful band, over the past 30 years they have brought horns blazing and the rhythms of Mozambique: xigubu, mapiko, tufu and marabenta to stages all around the globe. The band was named for a small lake in the Gaza province, famous because no matter how dry the season, it never dries up. The lake is a symbol for the band's ethos of cultural survival, and during the difficult years of war, Ghorwane preserved roots culture with their music and raised spirits with their hopeful and sometimes politically charged lyrics.
 
Azagaia is the most influential, popular and political hip-hop artist in Mozambique. Lyrically he speaks of the realities of post-colonial Mozambique and the continent of Africa as a whole. Backed by the Os Cortadores de Lenha featuring some of the finest musicians in the country, laying the foundation for Azagaia’s hard-hitting lyrics and charismatic stage persona to leave the audience in raptures.
 
Lay Lizzy and e Os Primos (the cousins in ‘Portuguese”) are a collective at the forefront hip-hop in Mozambique. In 2014, he signed to Pan African orientated Geobek Entertainment’s record label, Geobek Records. He has since released two singles under the label Tha Crew in July 2015. This was followed by a single called 'Hello' featuring AKA, released 1 April 2016, charting on iTunes Mozambique as number 1 on all genre and number 2 on iTunes South Africa Hip-hop chart.
 
Ras Haitrm & Word Sound Power creates songs that carry messages of unity, respect, peace and non-violence. Often touted as an African revelation of new roots reggae, Ras Haitrm has built his career upon a talent that impresses those who witness his performances and respect his revolutionary ideas. The love of music, added to his wisdom and hard work, makes us see the importance of his mission to bring Jah's words to the world, from the cradle of humanity to the world.
 
The Mute Band are a band with no vocalists, hence the name “The Mute Band”. With a dynamic foundation structured around sampling, the band whisks its audience on a sonic journey through hip-hop with psychedelic atmospheres, bringing them a fresh and exhilarating experience. With 2 beat makers, Nandele and Fu Da Siderurgia on samples and sound effects, Helton on the drums and Embri0n on the bass. Although unique in their own ways, their journeys have converged and their common goals and interests, bonded these 4 men with a passion to make “Awesome Beats”. Shuch beats tha shall communicate with the inhabitants of this planet and many other galaxies...
 
Xixel Langa is a dynamic jazz vocalist from Mozambique. Part of the famed Langa family, her father is Hortensio Langa and brother Texito Langa – she was always destined to shine on the stage. With her debut released earlier this year, Xixel is a start on the rise.
 
The name “Azgo” is old slang from Maputo to say “let´s go”, let’s revisit our cultures and heritage, “let´s go” promote cultural diversity, “let’s go”…” says director/founder Paulo Chibanga best known as the drummer in legendary band 340 ml, Chibanga is keen for South African’s to say “Let’s go to Azgo” and make the short trip across the border to taste the flavour of the festival he has been running for the past seven years. “Maputo is a fun city, there is plenty of affordable accommodation and of course this year’s lineup is amazing so a great time is guaranteed for Mozambicans and visitors.“
 
Chibanga continues, “With Azgo Festival we aim to bring together various genres, different crowds and different artists, emerging and well-known. This serves as a platform for emerging and acclaimed artists to collaborate and meet a new audience.”
 
Azgo Festival is all about promoting Mozambican cultural heritage and artistic life as well as promoting Mozambique as a destination for music lovers, whilst creating a platform to promote music exchanges between local and international artists and establishing a network with music events and initiatives in Southern Africa, on the continent and overseas. 
 
“Our festival brand is based around celebrated Mozambican artist Naguib, one of the biggest painters and visual artists in the country. Our imagery used on our posters is paying homage to his famed artworks and opening his works up to a new generation”, explains Chibanga.
 
Azgo also aims to “Contribute to artistic and cultural development and to create a greater awareness regarding cultural issues in Mozambique and Southern Africa, we also want to provide opportunities for professionalization in the music industry, to involve local communities and create jobs.” So in addition to their diverse music, film and dance program, “Azgo hosts a dialogue and workshop program called Azgo Dialogar” says Chibanga.
 
“These workshops are a platform for artistic and cultural development, music exchange between local and international artists, promotion of Mozambican cultural heritage and artistic life, and opportunities for the professionalization of the music industry in Mozambique.”
 
Azgo Festival has a strong social responsibility mandate. In 2017, our theme is “Gender Equality” with almost 50% of the line-up being female led and the same behind the scenes making the festival happen.
 
Azgo Festival has partnered with the Mozambican Association for Recycling (AMOR) to reduce its carbon footprint and ensure the best possible waste management practices are implemented. The festival donates 100% of festival profits to community-based organizations in Maputo.
 
Azgo Festival is part of the African Music Festival Network (AMFN) and a founding member of the Igoda, which encompasses Bassline Africa Day (Joburg, South Africa), MTN Bushfire Festival (Swaziland), Sakifo (Reunion Island) and Zakifo (Durban, South Africa).