Music Culture Wednesdays Vol. 4

Every Wednesday I will be introducing great kizomba artists from the PALOP community that usually don’t receive the recognition they deserve.

Kizomba music comes from all over the PALOP community, not just Angola. All mixes between zouk and Afro rhythms (not to be confused with Afro-house) are normally called kizomba, amongst PALOPS, regardless if the artists or bands are from Guiné-Bissau, Cabo-Verde, São Tomé and Prince, Mozambique or even the Congo (which is not a PALOP country).

This is the first time since I started with MCW that I am introducing a king in the PALOP community.  Gil Semedo may be unknown for many of you, but he was the king in the 90s and all his songs were great hits for PALOPS.  Because of his popularity you can find quite a bit about him online, here’s what Wikipedia has:

Gil Semedo Moreira (born October 25, 1974), better known by his stage name Gil Semedo, is a Cape Verdean recording artist, songwriter, businessman, and record producer. He rose to prominence in 1991 following the release of “Menina”, the first single from his debut album bearing the same name. Gil is one of the most powerful celebrities in Portuguese speaking Africa, having sold over a million records and creating his own music genre ‘Cabo Swing’ (a combination of traditional Cape Verdean music styles such as Coladeira, Funana and Batuko mixed with zouk, pop and R&B).

Gil Semedo was born in Santiago, Cape Verde, and at age six moved to the Netherlands where he still lives. He got his breakthrough in 1990 when he reached the finals on the Dutch talent TV show Sound Mix Show at age fifteen. He would go on to release his first single ‘Menina’ the following year, in 1991.


1991-93: Menina and Caboswing             

In 1991 Gil released his debut album ‘Menina’ under the name ‘Gil & the Perfect 2’. After embarking on a world tour, he released his follow-up album ‘Caboswing’ in 1993.

1994-95: Separadu and Verdadi

1994 saw the release of his third album, ‘Separadu’, which includes hits like ‘Moda Bitchu’, ‘Suzy’ and ‘Bye Bye My Love’. The following year he released ‘Verdadi’ (meaning ‘Truth’) which includes the Batuco song ‘Maria Julia’.

1996-99: Bodona and Nos Lider

In 1997 Gil released his fifth album ‘Bodona’, which includes the hits ‘Flan’, ‘Nos Magua’ and the acoustic ‘Dor’. Two years later Gil released his most successful album to date, ‘Nos Lider (meaning ‘Our Leader’), which sold over 100,000 copies within the first three months of release and reached gold and platinum status in several countries worldwide. At the end of 1999 Gil suffered a tragic accident by falling down 8 floors from a hotel in Dakar, Senegal, while shooting a video for his single “Nha Namorada”. Gil miraculously survived the fall, but he lost his left foot because of the accident.

2000-02: Best of 1991-2001 and Dedicaçon          

In 2001 Gil released his first ‘best of’-album of his career. The album also includes the exclusive bonus track ‘Obrigado’ (meaning ‘Thank You’), in which he thanks everybody that supported him during his recovery. The album becomes the best-selling Cape Verdean album of the year. The following year Gil releases Dedicaçon which includes multiple hits like Fan No.1, Casa Ku Mi, Acreditan and the title song Dedicaçon.

2003-07: Nha Vitoria and Best of Love   

In 2003 more than 100,000 people witness Gil’s performance live at the Gamboa Festival and millions of people follow the broadcast on TV, radio and internet. Two years later, in 2005, Gil’s song ‘Lembra Tempo’ is selected for the soundtrack of the Portuguese box office hit ‘Sorte Nula’, directed by Fernando Fragata. The film wins the award for ‘Best Cinematography’ at the Boston International Film Festival. After a 4-year hiatus, Gil released his 8th studio album ‘Nha Vitoria’ (meaning ‘My Victory’) in 2006 to wide acclaim. On the album Gil shares some of the lessons he has learnt so far and sings about overcoming his obstacles.

2008-11: Cabopop and Sempri Lider       

Gil’s 10th studio album ‘Cabopop’ is released in 2008. The album contains arrangements by Capeverdean-Senegalese composer Manu Lima and is recorded in Cape Verde, France and Holland. The album includes the smash hit ‘Cherie Mon Amour’. His eleventh studio album ‘Sempri Lider’ is a distinct change in musical direction and shows Gil experimenting with new sounds and rhythms. Guest features include Angolan singer Yola Semedo, Cape Verdean rapper Boss AC and Brazilian singer Loalwa Braz (lead singer of the French-Brazilian Lambada group Kaoma). The title track is a tribute to Michael Jackson and speaks of the sacrifices and responsibilities that come with leadership.

2012-present: Brazouka, Unplugged and collaborations               

In 2014 Gil provided the music to one of the biggest dance shows of the FIFA World Cup 2014 in Brazil: Brazouka, written by actress, producer and activist Pamela Stephenson and produced by Harley Medcalf. The stage production tells the biographical story of lambazouk dancer Braz Dos Santos, who also performed in the show and is directed by West End choreographer, Arlene Phillips. The show premiered at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in August 2014 and toured South Africa  and Australia through January 2015. In 2015 Gil announced that he is planning to release an unplugged album of his biggest hits and that he is working on a new album.


Gil is currently in the process of starting his own foundation to bring medical equipment to disabled children in Cape Verde. In 2015 he wrote an endorsement for Musicians without Borders praising them for their work to bring healing in war-torn communities. He also announced plans to bring school supplies to African colleges.

After being in the music industry for almost 25 years, Gil decided in 2014 to take matters into his own hand and to start his own record label. Gil will be the first artist on the label and he is planning to sign other (upcoming) African artists to assist them in their careers.


Cabo Swing (Kizomba): Suzy

Cabo Swing (Kizomba): Jantar

Cabo Swing (Kizomba):  Bye Bye My Love

Cabo Swing (Kizomba):  Verdadi So Um

Cabo Swing (Kizomba):  Another Lonely Night

Cabo Swing (Kizomba):  Sweet Honey

Cabo Swing (Kizomba): Nha Namorada

Cabo Swing (“Semba” his vision of semba or something similar or remotely close/distant, I don’t know, just judge for yourself because the song is actually great and excellent to dance to): Angola Sempre a Subir

Batuku (traditional music and dance from Cape Verde): Maria Julia

I honestly do not know how to classify this song but it was a great hit among the PALOP community (I don’t think it was ever classified into any genre anyway): Rabola bo Carambola

Funana (traditional music and dance from Cape Verde): Moda Bitcho

Funana (traditional music and dance from Cape Verde): Ca Ten Nau

NOTE: PALOP – Portuguese-speaking African countries, also referred to as Lusophone Africa, consists of six African countries in which the Portuguese language is an official language: Angola, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, São Tomé and Príncipe. Besides having a common language, the five former colonies of the Portuguese Empire share a strong “cultural identity, a similar system of governance and a long tradition of contacts and exchanges amongst themselves”. In 1992, the five Lusophone African countries formed an interstate organization called PALOP, a colloquial acronym that translates to African Countries of Portuguese Official Language (In Portuguese: Países Africanos de Língua Oficial Portuguesa). The PALOP countries signed official agreements with Portugal, the European Union and the United Nations, and they work together to promote the development of culture and education and the preservation of the Portuguese language. Together with Portugal and Brazil in 1996, the Portuguese-speaking African countries established the Community of Portuguese Language Countries (Portuguese: Comunidade dos Países de Língua Portuguesa, abbreviated to CPLP).

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