Paulo Flores (Angola)
Paulo Flores is a legendary Angolan singer-songwriter keeping the flame of semba music alive in the 21st century. Semba is the elegant, earthy, African ancestor of Brazilian samba — and the root of today’s kuduro and kizomba dance crazes. Flores’ poetic compositions focus on everything from love and life to history and politics, tapping the roots that make semba the repository of decades of Angolan wit and wisdom. In a country where the deep wounds of civil war are plastered over with new oil money and a beachfront building boom. Paulo Flores keeps a nation’s conscience and memory alive.
Angola, Flores’ home, is located in the south-west part of the African continent, on the Atlantic Ocean. Modern Angola has its roots in Portuguese colonization, which began in the 16th Century and ended with independence in 1975, after which an intense civil war broke out that lasted until 2002. Some of the major indigenous languages are Umbundu, Kimbundu, and Kikongo, but Portuguese is the official language of the country. While Anglola has vast mineral and petro reserves, the standard of living remain extremely low for the majority of the population.
Paulo Flores was born in the Angolan capital of Luanda, but spent a good part of his childhood in Lisbon. He is one of the most important artists in Angolan music today, with a strong following in Portugal, and an indefatigable advocate of semba at home and abroad. Flores’ music is mostly written in Portuguese, though he also sings in the Kimbundu language.
He has released 15 recordings, but beyond his position in music, he plays an important social role in supporting young Angolan musicians and, since 2007, as Goodwill Ambassador for the UN in Angola.