Atongo Zimba was born on the savannahs of northern Ghana in 1967. His grandfather taught him how to build and play the koliko or molo, a two-stringed calabash lute and the first songs he learned were rooted firmly in tradition, dealing with everyday life in the countryside of northern Ghana’s Bolgatanga region.
Being a child of his time, he was also exposed to African popular music on the radio and like many of his contemporaries; he was enthralled by the sounds of Fela Kuti’s afrobeat.
It was to have a seminal influence on his musical development and Afrobeat inspired him so much, he decided to leave his hometown and explore the musical idioms of the surrounding regions.
Producer and arranger Sultan Makendé (aka Dave Yowell), who co-produced the legendary Captain Yaba album in the late 1990s, came up with a funky modern African sound which fused modern electronic instruments with the acoustic roots of the African Sahel.
Savannah Breeze builds on the musical ideas and grooves he pioneered together with Francis Fuster. Working with musicians steeped in jazz, funk and African music, Savannah Breeze moves effortlessly through a variety of grooves available to the contemporary musician – funk here, jazz there, a searing griot solo.
Atongos’s own repertoire has also been informed by his countless encounters with musicians from a variety of traditions. His cover version of the polka classic “No Beer In Heaven” is a major hit in Ghana! Atongo Zimba loves to play music and it shows.
And indeed, what catches your ear throughout, is that distinctive voice, alternately praising, and cajoling, poking fun, criticizing, and caressing.