The mesmerising music of Staff Benda Bilili and the band's extraordinary story have been making a strong impression worldwide. A group of paraplegic street musicians who live in and around the grounds of the zoo in Kinshasa, DR Congo, one can hear raw power, fragile delicacy and incredible beauty in their music: the eternal pulse of Congolese rumba combined with voices that conjure the crooners of Havana, the toasters of Kingston and even the Godfather Of Soul himself.
The core of the group consists of four seasoned singer/guitarists perched on spectacular customized tricycles, occasionally dancing on the floor of the stage, arms raised in joyful supplication. Behind them is a young and entirely acoustic rhythm section, and to top it all there are the weird, infectious guitar-like solos of Roger, a teenage prodigy who plays a one-string electric lute he designed and built himself out of a tin can.
Staff Benda Bilili consider themselves the real journalists of Kinshasa, as their songs document and comment on events of everyday life. One of their key messages is: the only real handicaps are not in the body but in the mind.
Benda Bilili means "look beyond appearances" - literally: "put forward what is hidden"