April 3 update: The Amai Kuda et Les Bois concert has been cancelled due to a health issue. It will be rescheduled. See the original article below.
One of Canada’s boundary-breaking musical acts is generating plenty of buzz after many years in Toronto’s music-industry trenches. On March 30, Amai Kuda et Les Bois cracked the CBC Music Top 20 hottest adult-alternative tracks with Grant Lawrence. It was for “Which Way” from the 2022 album EmUrgency.
The Afro-soul band, led by singer-songwriter Amai Kuda, injects spiritual elements into its eclectic mix—notably on the bouncy dance number “Oshun”.
In addition, the band offers everything from acoustic ballads and African continental music to alt-rock and hip-hop-laden political tracks. According to its Facebook page, the recent album is about pushing back against “the glass ceiling in the music industry that keeps artists like themselves from reaching wider audiences”.
“For Amai Kuda et Les Bois, music is about healing—ourselves, our society and the earth, and that can’t happen unless we listen to the voices that have for too long been ignored,” the band declares. “It is truly a ‘listening EmUrgency!’ ”
On April 5, Amai Kuda et Les Bois will perform at the Shadbolt Centre for the Arts in Burnaby.
Not only does the band deliver musically, it also takes great care with its imagery. Check out the animation on the “Oshun” video, which is on EmUrgency. It reflects how Oshun is a such an important river deity for the Yorùbá people in West Africa.
Amal Kuda plays different characters in “Love Song”
Another track, “Love Song”, has been billed as a “fun, modern take on the classic Motown torch ballad”. According to the band, distinct voices in the arrangement embody different aspects of the self.
In the video below, Amal Kuda plays opposite characters—one a shy, queer, nerdy girl and the other a wilder soul who doesn’t conform to societal expectations around monogamy. Each is “responding to the situation with everything from passionate desperation to call acceptance, but never taking themselves too seriously”.
Amai Kuda et Les Bois will play the Shadbolt Centre for the Arts (6450 Deer Lake Avenue) in Burnaby on Wednesday (April 5). For more information and tickets, visit the Shadbolt Centre website. Follow Charlie Smith on Twitter @charliesmithvcr. Follow Pancouver on Twitter @PancouverMedia.