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Sounding out of Africa

Updated: 2013-07-04 07:52
By Mu Qian ( China Daily)

Sounding out of Africa

Nigerian singer Lo-d performs in a Guangzhou club. Photos provided to China Daily

The number of African musicians in China, especially in Guangzhou, is growing, creating new types of harmony between the two lands. Mu Qian reports.

Nigerian Lo-d rates his singing by the dancing of the crowds for whom he croons.

The vocalists' shows in Gaungdong's provincial capital are typically a writhing mix of Chinese, compatriots and other foreigners dancing to his highlife, hip-hop and R&B songs.

"If they don't dance, that means I'm not doing well," he says.

Lo-d - his stage name is short for "Lord's Own Design" - takes the stage of such Guangzhou venues as Kama Club, Town Bar, Duo Club and Banker Club.

He sings in English and his native Igbo.

"My Chinese is not very good, but I hope to sing in Chinese soon," he says.

"I also want to collaborate with Chinese artists."

Lo-d lives a double life typical of Guangzhou's African musicians, who do business by day and take the stage by night. The city ranks among the country's top commodities-trading bases, which has caused its African population to swell since the 1990s.

University of Hong Kong African studies program director and author of the 2012 book Africans in China Adams Bodomo says there are about 500,000 Africans in China, and Guangzhou hosts the largest population.

Africans in China include at least 300,000 traders, 30,000 students, 4,000 professionals, 10,000 tourists and 10,000 business travelers, Bodomo says.

"Wherever there are Africans, there is good music - just like wherever there are Chinese, there is good food," Wesleyan University associate professor of music and East Asian studies Su Zheng says.

"When I read reports about Africans in China, I became very interested in the music of the African diaspora."

When Zheng found no reports about the music of Africans in China, she decided to research it.

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