Monday Music: Redressing the balance #2

Continuing my March tribute to women singers, this week I’m bringing you a few tracks from the 1980s. Like everyone else back then, I was listening to the big stars like Annie Lennox and Grace Jones (I loved their androgynous sophistication); and of course I was getting down to the Weather Girls.

But I thought this week I’d share some music that you might not have heard – unless you were checking out Sydney post-punk pub bands, like most of my friends were.

Here’s The Particles.

Or, like me, were discovering the vast and fascinating world of contemporary African music. Here’s Congolese diva, M’bilia Bel.

If you were living in Africa in the 1980s you probably knew who she was, for at that time M’bilia Bel was popular across the entire African continent. She toured Australia in the early 90s, and it shames to me tell you that — at least in Sydney — hardly anyone turned up to see her. I don’t think there were more than 40 people in the room. I bumped into one of her backing singers in the bathroom and apologised profusely for the poor attendance. She blamed the promoter. I blame Australian ignorance. Maybe we’re both right. Fortunately since then, Aussie audiences have become more appreciative of African women singers — as you will find out in my post next week …


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