African Music Encyclopedia


Ismael Lo


Ismael Lo, born in 1960, is the son of a Senegalese civil servant who loved American soul music. Lo grew up listening to stars like James Brown, Wicked Wilson Pickett, and Otis Redding. Lo built his first guitar from a cooking oil can, and learned to play harmonica and guitar together by nailing his harmonica to the wall.

Lo was a guitarist for Super Diamano, a mbalax blues band, for five years before leaving to start his own solo career. Lo is often called the "Bob Dylan of Senegal" because of his guitar and harmonica combination coupled with his deeply satisfying lyrics. As Lo himself says:

"I speak of racism, poverty, famine, and the relationships among people"

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