Free “The Land of Yangalele” show Sept. 28

This performance, inspired by traditional Congolese music and rumba, will take children and parents on a happy journey to Africa.


Travel to the land of “happiness” when artists Papa Siama and Auntie Dallas perform traditional Congolese music in a free show at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Presented by the Alys Stephens Performing Arts Center, “The Land of Yangalele” is set for 6:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 28, at the ArtPlay house, 1006 19th St. South. Call ArtPlay at 205-975-4769 to reserve seats for the performance. A food truck will be on-site. Doors and bars open at 5 p.m.

Siama is a prolific composer and guitarist from the Democratic Republic of Congo. Siama and wife Dallas’ music is inspired by traditional Congolese music and rumba. “Yangalele” means “happiness” in Kikongo.

Legendary group Ladysmith Black Mambazo says that, when listening to Siama’s “Land of Yangalele,” “We hear home, Mama Africa. This is very beautiful music that everyone can enjoy.”

Join the Alys Stephens Center for a free Arts Exchange, “An Evening with Siama Matuzungidi, a Congolese Music Legend,” in partnership with UAB’s Human Rights Institute. The event is set for 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 27, at ArtPlay.

Siama performed with many of the greats and was a sought-after studio musician, recording hundreds of popular songs during the golden era of soukous music in the 1970s and ’80s, according to his artist’s statement. His signature sound and commitment to innovation helped to fuel the popularization of soukous (aka “the sound of happiness”), which is ubiquitous on dance floors the world over to this day.

Siama launched his solo career in 2014 from Minneapolis after being awarded a McKnight Fellowship. Now that he is running his own show, he has developed an acoustic format, a lot of new material is flowing, and he is collaborating with musicians of a wide array of backgrounds and instrumentation.

In addition to performing concerts, festivals, home concerts and special events, Siama hosts interactive programs and instrument petting zoos for children and lifelong learners, and he teaches workshops on songwriting and guitar.

The Alys Stephens Center will present free Meet the Artist school shows for students in pre-K through third grade Wednesday, Sept. 26, and Thursday, Sept. 28. On Sept. 27 at noon, UAB’s Arts in Medicine will present a free public show in the UAB Hospital North Pavilion.