Rafiya not Raphia
If you do not know Rafiya well you’re a missing out. I was first introduced to this stunning young lady with the song Flo, I love you which is in her first album “Amazing” that came out in 2010. The beautiful afrosoulstress took us on a beautiful soothing musical stroll. Rafiya was LA born to Congolese parents and due to her father’s career she was raised a little bit here and a lot everywhere. She has worked and toured with many internationally renowned artists such as Youssou N’Dour, Oscar Kidjo, Marlene, Diblo Dabala, and of course French rap star Mokobe.
The Kennedy Center
On August 26th, 2015 I was gracefully honored to be invited to Rafiya’s concert at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC.
Designed by architect Edward Durell Stone as « living memorial » to President Kennedy it’s in September 1971 that the John F Kennedy Center for performing arts opened its door. Known to be a supporter and advocate of the arts, President Kennedy, initiated a fundraiser for the prestigious National Cultural Center Act. It’s 2 months after President’s Kennedy’s assassination that the Congress named the performing art after him.
Around 5h45pm we found the Millennium Stage. As we got to the reserved seat up front just before the stage I couldn’t help but notice how pretty crowded and diverse the audience was. It was just few reserved seats left. At 6pm on the dot a lovely female voice introduced Rafiya As we were clapping the band appeared and without wasting any seconds the rhythm of the drums and other instruments were heating up the room as the vocalists started singing “This is where I’m from”. This Ode to Africa was a strong opening.
Behind her beautiful outfit and her soothing voice hides a strong, warm-hearted African woman proudly representing me, Africans, and friends of Africa. And yet it was just the beginning. Her eclectic personality and style made it easy for anybody not only to relate to the lyrics, but also be moved by the different sonorities. Engaging, her bright smile and charming voice hyped the crowed teaching us a little bit of Lingala, inviting us to get up dance, and sing along. I love concert where I can sing along! And I could just do that. I love that she sang several Afro-Caribbean classics that she smoothly mixed with her own songs. I really enjoyed “Maldon” famous hit of Zouk Machine an all female group from Guadeloupe. I was 5 years old when this song came out it was a huge success. Even though, I didn’t understand any of the lyrics we all knew the chorus and dance moves… Calling him a good for nothing guy she introduced Mario like she knew him. Mario was released in 1985 and was Franco‘s biggest hit! It is a song about a gigolo who lives off his older lovers. With the soothing melody from sweetest taboo she gave us an Afro-Jazzy version of Premier Gaou the Zouglou hit from the Ivorian group Magic System.
She sings about the human experience Si c’est ecrit. Love, Baby can I hold you. Her cultural mix allows her to go into various genre from RnB, reggae, and pop with a “I believe in you” a beautiful cover of Lokua Kanza. She brings awareness and ended the concert with a really moving performance of Congo pleure. Carefully and tastefully done with a little contemporary African touch and a reggae feel Rafiya took us to her world!
We are wishing Rafiya the best as her career continues to blossom!
You can find “My number” which is also the name of her EP online www.rafiyaonline.com
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