World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Music of Sierra Leone

Article Id: WHEBN0000246438
Reproduction Date:

Title: Music of Sierra Leone  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Sierra Leone, Music of Africa, Music of Mali, Economy of Sierra Leone, Outline of music
Collection: Sierra Leonean Culture, Sierra Leonean Music
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Music of Sierra Leone

Students celebrate with traditional dancing in Koindu, Kailahun District, Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's music is a mixture of native, French, British and Creole influences.

Palm wine music is representative, played by an acoustic guitar with percussion in countries throughout coastal West Africa. Gumbe (goombay), a genre more closely associated with the music of West Africa, has also had a long presence in the form of milo-jazz.

Sierra Leone, like much of West Africa is open to Rap, Reggae, Dancehall, R&B, and Grime (music).


  • National music 1
  • Traditional music 2
  • Popular music 3
    • Palm-wine 3.1
    • Gumbe 3.2
    • Afropop 3.3
    • Modern 3.4
  • References 4
  • Sources 5

National music

The national anthem of Sierra Leone, "High We Exalt Thee, Realm of the Free", was composed by John Akar with lyrics by Clifford Nelson Fyle and arrangement by Logie E. K. Wright. It was adopted upon independence in 1961.

Traditional music

The largest ethnic group in Sierra Leone (2009) is that of the Mel-speaking Temne people, 35% of the population. Next, at 31%, the Mande, along with 2% Mandingo, have music traditions related to Mande populations in neighbouring countries. Other recorded populations were the Limba ( 8%), the Kono (5%), the Loko (2%) and the Sierra Leone Creole people (2%), while 15% were recorded as "others".

The wars and civil conflict throughout West Africa,[1] have resulted in a decrease in the presence of the traditional music artists.

Popular music


Sierra Leonean palm wine music is known as maringa, and it was first popularized by Ebenezer Calendar & His Maringar Band, who used styles Caribbean styles, especially Trinidadian calypso. Calendar played the guitar, trumpet, mandolin and the cornet, while also penning some of the most oft-played songs in Sierra Leonean music in the 1950s and 60s.[2] His most popular song was "Double-Decker Bus", commissioned by Decca to promote the launching of a double-decker bus line. He eventually moved towards socially and spiritually aware lyrics.


Gumbe (goombay), a genre more closely associated with the music of West Africa, has also had a long presence in the form of milo-jazz, a distinctly Sierra Leonean style named after a brand of chocolate powder, the empty cans of which, filled with stones, form a core percussion instrument. Dr. Oloh is the most widely-acknowledged innovator of milo-jazz.[3]


Beginning in the 1970s, rumba, Congolese music, funk and soul combined to formed a popular kind of Afropop. Major bands of this era included Sabannoh 75, Orchestra Muyei, Super Combo and the Afro-National. Sierra Leoneans abroad have created their own styles, such as Seydu, Ansoumana Bangura, Abdul Tee-Jay, Bosca Banks, Daddy Rahmanu, Patricia Bakarr and Sidike Diabate and Mwana Musa's African Connexion.[3]


The internet has encouraged the youth to new styles of music. Many songs have political and social themes, informing the populace and checking politicians. The independent film, Sweet Salone, displays many of these artists, fans, and their music.

Mwana Musa (Musa Kalamulah) and the band African Connexion married Sierra Leone, Congolese and jazz rhythms. Mwana Musa was an able composer who worked with musicians such as David Toop, Steve Beresford, Ray Carless, Ugo Delmirani, Robin Jones, Mongoley (Lipua Lipua) Safroman (GO Malebo)Len Jones one of Sierra Leones finest guitarists, Lindel Lewis, Ayo-Roy MAcauley leading guitarist from Sierra Leone, Kevin Robinson, Paapa Jay-Mensah etc. African Connexion was signed to Charlie Gillet's Oval Records and produced "C'est La Danse", "Moziki", "City Limits", "Midnight Pressure", "Dancing On The Sidewalk", a soca-tinged soukous, and "E Sidom Panam" - typical Sierra Leone dance music.


  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^
  3. ^ a b Afropop


  • Ashcroft, Ed and Richard Trillo. "Palm-Wine Sounds". 2000. In Broughton, Simon and Ellingham, Mark with McConnachie, James and Duane, Orla (Ed.), World Music, Vol. 1: Africa, Europe and the Middle East, pp 634–637. Rough Guides Ltd, Penguin Books. ISBN 1-85828-636-0
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.