Northrop's Music on the Plaza weekly noontime concert series kicks off Wed, Jun 6, featuring Siama's Congo Roots. Ahead of that first concert, we invited band member Dallas Johnson to blog about Siama Matuzungidi and his music:
In the TPT episode of Lowertown Line featuring Siama’s life and music, Siama shared his philosophy, “It’s not just singing. But if two notes, four notes can make somebody happy that is the thing I really want in my life.”
Siama grew up in rural western Democratic Repbulic Congo and remembers his childhood fondly--vividly imagining zombies animating the jungle during the night and growing up an integral part of a community that was so intertwined that decisions were made by first seeking everyone's wisdom and support. In the evenings, his family would gather on a handwoven mat to tell stories and sing together among the chirping crickets, under a canopy of stars.
This is the experience Siama conjures whenever he takes to the stage. Siama and his band invites everyone to participate by singing (in Kikongo, Lingala and Swahili), dancing and letting imaginations soar to faraway places.
Given the media’s negative portrayal of DRC it may seem incongruous that Siama and I named our new kids’ CD “The Land of Yangalele” (which means “happiness” in Kikongo) but a nation isn’t a government. A nation is its people. Siama’s mother always shared with her kids this Bakongo wisdom, “The most important thing in life is something I can’t give you. You need to discover what makes you happy because that is your gift for the world.”