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While African shows at the 930 Club get plenty of attention, some at other locations go under the radar. This evening there is a good underpublicized one for free at the Kennedy Center Millennium Stage featuring Samba Mapangala and Orchestra Virunga. The show is linked in some manner to today’s celebration of “World Refugee Day.” Born in the ‘50s in the Congo, Samba later moved to Kenya and even lived in DC for a while. He established his name in the ‘80s in Kenya when he lent his sweet voice to a danceable hybrid of Congolese guitar-driven rumba and Kenyan benga flavoring. He has a gorgeous warble, and his big band sometimes adds horns to the standard, high-pitched guitar led rumba and soukous sound. His Obama song is not bad but I like his classic Congolese sounding numbers better.
Saturday June 20-Samba Mapangala and Orquestra Virunga for free from 6 to 7 (and streamed and archived on the Kennedy Center website) at the Kennedy Center Millennium Stage