Togo is one of the many African countries that have maintained its music history to date. To show for it, several artists form an extensive list of Togolese musicians. But how many of them do you know? On the African scene, Artists from a few countries dominate the scene. However, there are still great talents strewn all over the continent. We want to give them all a platform to shine.
This is part of a series where we highlight emerging and established musicians from different African countries. Let us know your favorite in the comments section. If you are familiar with the Togo music industry, can you guess five musicians you think will be on this list? Now, let’s see if you were right.
Top 10 Established Togolese Musicians
Musicians are regarded as established for various reasons. These reasons include exceptional and consistent performances over a long period and international recognition. Here is a list of top 10 such musicians from Togo.
#1. Yao Bobby (born Yao Amewonou)
Yao Bobby is among the pioneers of modern-day hip hop in Togo. He went on to start the Djanta Kan group alongside some other rappers in the country. Additionally, Bobby is a member of AURA (United Artists for African Rap), a network for African artists primarily from West Africa. Today, many upcoming rappers can attribute their success to Yao as the founding father of hip-hop in Togo.
#2. King Mensah (born Ayaovi Papavi Mensah)
King Mensah started performing ballet folklore music recreationally at age 9. He is a revered Afropop singer who has released seven albums since he debuted in the industry. Over the years, Mensah has impressed music fans and is referred to as “The Golden Voice of Togo” for his performances. Subsequently, he has bagged awards such as “Officer of the First Order” accorded to him by the Togolese Head of State in 2008. He sings in Mina, Ewe, and French to bring out a unique blend of music in traditional and modern elements.
#3. Roger Damawuzan (AKA Dama Damawuzan)
This Togolese musician was born in 1952 at the heart of Aného in Togo. Roger’s influence on the Afro-funk stage back in the 70s accelerated his fame. Additionally, he is considered the king of Gazo, a traditional Togolese rhythm. Roger is a member of Togo All-Stars and Les As du Bénin bands.
#4. Afia Mala (born Afiwavi Mawaulana Missohou)
Afia was born a princess by the River Mono banks in the heart of Benin. As a teenager, she would accompany her mother to attend the traditional singing lessons of the Habobo women. Subsequently, she developed an interest in music and pursued it to date. In 1974, Afia won the Best Togolese singer of the year award which also marks the beginning of her illustrious career. Learn more about Afia Mala.
#5. Itadi K Bonney (real name)
Afro-funk music from the early days in Togo has a special place in the country’s history, thanks to legendary musicians like Bonney. Itadi fled Togo and settled in the US due to ill political intentions targeting him. Interestingly, Itadi is the father of Tabi Bonney, an upcoming rapper living in Washington, DC.
#6. Toofan Band (band)
Since 2005, the Toofan band has severally made headlines in Togo as an exceptional band. The band’s success has been recognized with major awards such as best pop artists and best African Group All Africa Music Awards. The group started with three members, but now they are down to two, (Masta Just and Barabas). They are popular for new forms of music style called cool-catché and gweta.
#7. Susu Bilibi (Band)
Here’s another Togolese band that erupted from the former bassist of Bella Bellow and Ayité Ayivi. The Susu Bilibi band is known for live performances across Germany, Austria, Italy, Togo, etc. Also, the band is popular for playing modern African dance music accompanied by traditional West African rhythms. Arguably, their Ghanaian and Togo origin has a tremendous influence on their music. The band creates a stimulating sound that inspires dance and celebration from the various instruments and rhythms.
#8. Kodjo Senyo (real name)
Kodjo claims to be a self-taught musician. Growing up, this Togolese musician experienced many cultural aspects of Ewe, including traditional music. This was in the Southern part of Togo, where music is a lifestyle. Kodjo formed his first band in his youth and performed on local and international levels. Primarily, Senyo creates jazz, Afropop, and blues in his mother tongue.
#9. Elikeh (band)
Premiering in 2006, Elikeh is a band that has been living in the US thus far. Once during an interview, the lead singer and founder of Elikeh, Serge Massama Dogo said that he moved to the US since he had heard that it was easier to make music there. Nonetheless, they formed a powerful band that has performed severally in different regions. Their music still holds true to native Togolese roots and music styles.
#10. Vicky Bila (real name)
Do you love jazz music? From 1985, Vicky has created several relaxing jazz music that fans across the globe continue to enjoy. Back in the days, she performed in various prestigious stages and won the award for best African singer at some point. Currently, she lives in Switzerland, chairing her foundation called JoyForPeace. This foundation aims to promote peace through music and sustainable developments.
Top 10 Upcoming Togolese Musicians
The new generation of talented Togolese musicians is continuing the musical legacy that has been in the country for decades. This diversity comes with new genres and a range of musicians that we can’t wait to see on the top. Here are some of them.
#1. Santrinos Raphael (Hounou Atassé elpidio)
Now at 25 years old, Santrinos is among the youngest upcoming musicians in Togo. In 2012, he developed an interest in music. However, it wasn’t until 2014 that he composed his first single, Your Number. Santrinos sings RnB, a genre that’s not common in his country, and he is good at it. Within the short time he has been in the industry, he has already been nominated for AMA awards in 2017. Santrinos music journey is on a trajectory that seems so promising.
#2. Eric MC a.k.a. The Blaak Nigga
Hip hop in Togo varies a lot among artists. For instance, Eric MC is famous for a style where he mixes popular songs with rapping beats. His style of music stands him out in the industry. In fact, his album Adjamofo contributed to his win twice at the Togo Hip Hop Awards.
#3. Tabi Bonney (Tabiabuè Bonney)
Tabi is the son of the legendary Itadi Bonney. He was born in Togo but lives in Washington, DC. Evidently, this Afro-Funk rapper developed a thing for music from his father. While in college, he, together with a few friends, started a rap crew called Organized Rhyme. The Pocket and Doin It are the two singles that gave Tabi a platform when he was starting out. Tabi also owns a fashion line known as Bonnie Runway.
#4. Vaudou Game (music group)
Togolese music fans are pleased about this new band. It comes as no surprise that the famous singer Peter Solo is the brainchild of this band. It’s said that the name Vaudou comes from voodoo, a common culture among the Guin tribe people where Peter was born. As such, this group combines Voodoo rhythms with afro-funk and soul tunes to create unique music. Their popularity quickly rose since their audience related to the music.
#5. J-Gado (born Sadeydey Mawu Yé Donamé fio)
J-Gado came to light at the peak of the pandemic sometime in 2020. Consequently, music fans across Togo have expressed their love for his music. He is known for deriving musical inspiration from the daily life of the people of Togo. J-Gado released his debut single on April 2021. Being an artist who can rap and sing, he has left many amazed. Winning the REVELATION OF THE YEAR award at the prestigious AMA in 2020 is proof of these claims.
#6. Mirlinda (born Kuakuvi Ahlonkoba Djiédjom)
Women’s inclusion in the Togolese music industry is significant since legendary musicians like Bella Bellow left a mark in the industry. Mirlinda is one of the Togolese female artists giving male artists a run for their money. She released her first album, Denyigban, in 2006, which had a grand reception. She regards herself as the queen of Afro-Zouk, which blends Caribbean, African, and North American music styles.
#7. Almok (real name)
Almok is another upcoming female artist from Togo. She debuted in 2011, singing a mix of Afropop and RnB. In 2012, she released her first album, My Ideal, which, according to musical critics, had it all. If anything, this album enabled her to win the Best female artist of the year” in Togo that year. Moreover, Almok is also an ambassador for UNHCR, WOODIN, and NGO PLAN TOGO for Because I am a girl,” program that’s devoted to the education of the girl.
#8. Pikaluz (born Papi Kodjo Enyonam Adzakey
Pikaluz is an upcoming Togolese hip-hop rapper. After getting into the University of Lome in 2009 to study Law, he later realized he wanted to pursue film. In 2012, Pikaluz found himself in Ghana Broadcasting College pursuing his dream. Today, he creates rap music in his mother tongue, Mina, while also working as a film director.
#9. O’NORé (born Adabadji Komlan Sényo Honoré)
O’NORé grew up in Tabligbo in the suburbs of Lomé and spent most of his childhood there. Being a musical enthusiast, his father introduced him to musical notes. Later on, this young lad immersed himself in the craft at the prime of his youth. The result was a realization of inborn talent that required the fatherly mentorship to blossom. Currently, O’NORé is among the most promising Togolese musicians in 2021.
#10. Zaga Bambo (real name)
After being underground for 5 years, Zaga re-emerged in 2017 and his fans were delighted that he was back. This Togolese musician grew up in a religious setting that helped him discover his talent. By the time he was 12, Zaga was singing the daily call to prayer in the mosque. Consequently, he learned several musical instruments, that enabled him to write and record music. Zaga gained traction in the industry fast and it took him by surprise. This forced him to take a step back, re-reorganize himself, and now he is back with a bang!
Musicians have ways of doing many things, like promoting peace, love, and a lot more. The above Togolese musicians, whether upcoming or established, have done that too. For that reason, they are celebrated even beyond their borders. Our job was to remind you of some that you might have forgotten and spotlight new talent. Therefore, if you liked our list, consider sharing it.