‘Manuelé’ speaks of a forbidden love and its just one of the many songs written by José Oliveira Fontes Pereira, composer, guitar player, dancer, choreographer and founder of the very first Semba School in 1960. His father was a concertina player, himself the founder of the Elite União Clube (1919-1951), based on the Vila Clotilde neighbourhood during colonial times, and his brother was Euclides Fontes Pereira, another celebrated songwriter and dikanza player of Ngola Ritmos. Oliveira went on to write a number of hits and in the early sixties joined the Ngongo Theatre Group.
As the liner notes of this 1975 CDA single explain, Sabú Guimarães was ‘baptized with an artist’s name upon birth. The obstetrician picked him up, looked at his parents and said: he doesn’t really look like any of you. To my mind he looks like Sabu!”. So Sabú it was, referring to Sabu Dastagir, immortalized as a child actor on popular films such as ‘Elephant Boy’, ‘The Thief of Bagdad’ or ‘The Jungle Book’. ‘Manuelé’ was probably Sabú’s biggest hit but he also recorded other popular songs (like ‘Mbiri Mbiri’ or ‘Eme Ngó’) and was a member of Os Cunhas. His discography is scarcely known but I presume he was active up until the late eighties. Only after the end of the Angolan Civil War did he return to the stage, performing alongside the Cape Verdean Tito Paris at Casa 70 in 2008. Now – and from some time – established as a restaurateur at the Kinaxixi neighbourhood he sometimes hosts singers from his generation.
The band performing on ‘Manuelé’ is top notch, pretty much the nucleus of Conjunto Merengue: Carlos Vieira Dias on bass and solo guitar, Zé Keno on second solo guitar, José Joaquim Costa on the rhythm guitar, Vate Costa on the dikanza and the extraordinary pairing of Gregório Mulato and João Lourenço Morgado on percussion. Don’t forget that, apart from being key members of Negoleiros do Ritmo, Jovens do Prenda, Águias Reais or Kiezos, this was – with some minor changes to it’s line-up – the band supporting the likes of José Agostinho, Avôzinho, Teta Lando, Carlos Lamartine, Carlos Burity, Urbano de Castro, Artur Nunes, Prado Paím, Tino Diá Kimuezo, Santocas, Joy Artur, Tanga, etc, etc, on many essential recordings.
‘Manuelé’ was released by CDA in 1975 with ref# NCS-2000. Covert art by Rochinha Diogo. Recorded at Estúdio Norte by João Canedo. Its b-side is the Sabú penned ‘Monami Ualo Kata’.