Alpha Blondy at the Main Stage
Ivoirian star Alpha Blondy has certainly earned his reputation as the "enfant terrible" of African reggae. Blondy, who rose to fame with the release of his début album in the early 80's, has now built up a strong following of fans on the European music scene.
Seydou Koné - better known to music fans as Alpha Blondy - was born in Dimbrokro, Ivory Coast, on January 1st, 1953. Having moved to New York, Seydou began taking a passionate interest in the music scene. And one particular concert in New York was to have a major influence on the rest of his career - in 1977 Seydou attended a performance by the legendary Jamaican group Burning Spear and discovered the wonderful world of reggae. Inspired by the powerful dub rhythms he heard that evening, Seydou began singing with various local groups. But his main ambition was to record his own album and launch a solo career.This dream almost came true when Seydou met up with the famous record producer Clive Hunt and the pair began discussing the possibility of a joint collaboration. Unfortunately, Hunt dropped out of the project at the last minute and Seydou Koné was left high and dry without a record deal. This early disappointment sent young Seydou spiralling into a major depression and he soon left New York, returning to his native Côte d'Ivoire and setting up home in the capital, Abidjan.When Seydou relaunched his singing career in the early 80's he did so under a new stage name, Alpha Blondy (a pun on "bandit" - the word is pronounced "bondee" in French!). Seydou/Alpha got his first major break shortly after his return to the music scene when he was 'discovered' by the renowned television producer Fulgence Kassy. Impressed by the young singer's evident talent, Kassy invited Blondy to perform on his TV show "Première chance" - and the rest is music history!
Blondy soon became a major star on the Abidjan music scene, proving that reggae - which had for so long been thought of as a typically Jamaican sound - could be successfully reinterpreted in Ivoirian style. Blondy's catchy reggae beats became all the rage in Abidjan, and teenage music fans in the capital's happening downtown district soon adopted Blondy as their own national version of Bob Marley. With his rebellious stance, his excitable personality and his apparently endless supply of nervous energy, Alpha Blondy certainly made a major impact on the West African music scene. Singing in French and English as well as Baoulé and his native Dioula, Blondy soon went on to cause a major stir on the European music scene too.
A prominent figure of West-African music, Alpha Blondy has enjoyed a twenty-year career dominated by strong media backup in Africa as well as in Europe, especially in France.