Earlier in the summer, I had the opportunity to speak on the phone with Vincent Ahehehinnou, long-time lead singer of Benin’s legendary Orchestre Poly-Rythmo de Cotonou. Poly-Rythmo’s sound is a distinct mix of voodoo funk, afrobeat, highlife, and latin jazz, among other musical traditions.
Over the course of our conversation, Vincent recounted various stories from the band’s 40-year history, including encounters with other West African musical giants of the time; artists such as Fela Kuti and Bembeya Jazz. He spoke about the importance of Vodun to the group’s musical and national identity, shared his own views on Pan-Africanism, and more.
Additional thanks to Christiane Rey for help with transcription and Matt Rarey for providing voiceover. In the interview, afrobeat band Africa 70 was mistakenly referred to as Egypt 70.