Congo paraplegic band

I love this story:

Congo paraplegic band rocks around the world
From Neil Curry CNN

Cannes, France (CNN) — A group of disabled Congolese musicians could soon become a global sensation after an acclaimed documentary about the group was shown at the Cannes Film Festival.

The core members of Staff Benda Bilili are four musicians who suffered from polio as children. Three use wheelchairs, one is on crutches, and together they make heartfelt music that is winning fans far beyond their homeland.

With their soulful harmonies and hypnotic Congolese rumba beat, their music has been likened to Buena Vista Social Club. [Which I very much like.] And like the Cuban group, Staff Benda Bilili is crossing over into the international mainstream.

They are about to embark on a grueling tour that will see them perform at venues and festivals all over Europe this summer, before touring Japan.

But their new-found fame is a far cry from years spent making a living on the streets of Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

It was in Kinshasa in 2004 that they met French filmmakers Florent de La Tullaye and Renaud Barret, who were in the city documenting its music scene.

The filmmakers fell in love with Staff Benda Bilili’s music and offered to pay for their recording sessions, before making a film about the group.

Barret told CNN, "The idea was to record an album, because they were like virtuosos [who were] completely ignored, and we had the feeling that they could die very easily, because everybody dies very easily in Kinshasa — which is not funny.

"We had to do the album first. We didn’t intend to do the movie, but we were filming them on a daily basis while doing the rehearsals, the ups and downs, and in 2006 we realized we had shot the inside story of complete outsiders trying to emerge in one of the most complicated and brutal cities in the world."



Read the rest there.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. patergary says:

    Where’s the link Fr. Z?

  2. pelerin says:

    patergary – click on CNN at the top of the post

  3. jasoncpetty says:

    Check out this video for a song about Polio.

  4. KAS says:

    What an inspiring story. My prayers for their welfare and success!

  5. Music has always been one of the traditional careers for people who have disabilities that might keep them from working in other common (pre-modern) occupations, because in many ways it’s a level playing field. If you’re a good musician, you just are.

    The comment from the one musician was a good one. It reminded me of the surprisingly pro-disability parts of the old Norse Havamal:

    “All wretched is no man, though never so sick;
    Some from their sons have joy,
    Some win it from kinsmen, and some from their wealth,
    And some from worthy works.

    It is better to live than to lie a corpse,
    The live man catches the cow;
    I saw flames rise for the rich man’s pyre,
    And before his door he lay dead.

    The lame rides a horse, the handless is herdsman,
    The deaf in battle is bold;
    The blind man is better than one that is burned,
    No good can come of a corpse.”

  6. AnAmericanMother says:

    Correct, Suburbanbanshee.

    “Cattle die, kinsmen die
    One day you die yourself.
    I know one thing that never dies:
    A good man’s reputation.”

    Think also of all the blind harpers in Ireland – O’Carolan, Donn Byrne’s Blind Raftery . . .

  7. asophist says:

    I, too, am a big fan of Buena Vista Social Club music, and have a couple of recordings of their infectious music. There was once a venue in downtown Minneapolis, called Cafe Havana, that featured this type of music several nights per week (where I was often found to be in attendance). Sadly, the smoking ban put it out of business several years ago, as most male patrons were there to enjoy the good cigars and sherries they sold after a wonderful Cuban-style dinner, along with the music. And the salsa dancing – what a treat to see that done artfully and well! If these Congolese musicians can serve up something similar to that music, they are a treasure.

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