Rhythm group triumphs
Published: Thursday, October 18, 2012
Updated: Friday, October 19, 2012 14:10
An incredible true story of triumph over adversity will be on display Friday night at the Jorgensen Center for the Performing Arts when Staff Benda Bilili takes the stage. Staff Benda Bilili is a rhythm group whose music includes roots of rumba, reggae and R&B.
Hailing from the Democratic Republic of Congo, the group is described in a press release as “a wandering band of street musicians” whose raw, emotional music helps bring inspiration to their listeners to “unite, regain hope and rise again.”
The band has seven main members, four of whom are paraplegics as a result of contracting polio as children. The group also tours with a group of abandoned children from Congo’s streets as its rhythm backup.
Staff Benda Bilili rehearses and records in a decaying zoo in the capital of DROC, Kinshasa, and keeps its headquarters in a traffic roundabout of the city’s financial district. In contrast to their living quarters, the band’s music is energetic, positive and full of harmonious joy, all in French.
In 2004, two French documentarians named Florent de la Tullaye and Renaud Barret discovered the band’s story and created a 2010 documentary about them, titled “Benda Bilili.” The film was featured at Cannes and was nominated for a 2011 Cesar award, the national film awards of France. The documentary is now available on Netflix.
In the Jorgensen press release, Barret and de la Tullaye said Benda Bilili’s music pushes listeners to think and feel deeply.
“From the seedy sidewalks of Kinshasa to the hype clubs of Copenhagen, the limping odyssey of the Benda Bilili overthrows clichés regarding handicaps and misery,” the press release said. “It dares us to question our own limits and our ability to bounce back.”
Staff Benda Bilili takes the stage Friday night at 8 p.m.
UConn Faculty/Staff: FREE
Show valid UConn ID at Box office after 6:30 pm on night of event for free tickets