Incorporating influences from Southeast Asia, Europe, the Middle East, Africa and even North America, the music of Madagascar reflects the diversity of its people.
Salegy and Jaojoby
Madagascar’s most popular dance music is called salegy. Originating in the coastal towns, salegy grew out of the traditional folk music on the island. With the introduction of new music and musical technologies in the 20th century, the salegy we know today began to form in the late 1960s. The lively 6/8 rhythms combined with electric guitar riffs and keyboards make salegy easy to dance to and extremely upbeat.
The undisputed king of salegy is Eusèbe Jaojoby, or simply Jaojoby. One of the original pioneers, Jaojoby has released numerous albums and has toured all over the world bringing salegy to the masses. Jaojoby's latest album, "Malagasy,"was released in 2004.
Visit the National Museum of African Art's online exhibit of Malagasy music to hear a song by Jaojoby.
Believed by many to be the most influential black songwriter and lyricist of the 20th century, Andriamanantena Paul Razafinkarefo was actually Malagasy royalty. His father, Henry Razafinkarefo, was a nephew to the Queen of Madagascar. Henry died in battle against the French in the late 19th century, forcing his mother to flee to America. Born in Washington, D.C., in 1895 Razaf grew up in Harlem during the "renaissance" of the 1920s.
He quickly made a name for himself as a songwriter on "Tin Pan Alley" – the nickname given to the row of New York City publishing houses on 28th Street that provided numerous artists with songs. Razaf would soon find himself writing hundreds of memorable songs including "Ain’t Misbehavin" and "Honeysuckle Rose." In fact, Razaf’s songs would be performed over the years by such musical greats as Bennie Goodman, Louis Armstrong, and Ella Fitzgerald.
In 1972, Razaf finally got the recognition he so deserved and was admitted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.
Experience the flavor of Madagascar with Malagasy recipes >>