Totó celebrates 25th anniversary of seminal album ‘La Candela Viva’ with new EP

Fuego EP cover.jpg

Totó La Momposina, the original "Queen of Cumbia”, has had a career spanning almost

60 years and continues to perform all around the world at the age of 78. The singer reached international recognition in the early nineties when she released the classic album La Candela Viva on Peter Gabriel’s Real World Records.

Working with legendary pop/rock producer Phil Ramone (Paul Simon, Frank Sinatra, Bob Dylan), Totó la Momposina y sus Tambores delivered a live performance at Real World Studios as part of Peter Gabriel’s famous Recording Week project, which brought together singers and musicians from all over the world to record and collaborate together. The resulting album, which was completed in 1992 with producers John Hollis, Richard Blair and Marco Vinicio Oyaga, is still heralded as the Colombian singer’s most vital work, including iconic songs such as ‘El Pescador’, ‘La Candela Viva’and ‘Curura’.

Totó’s life has been dedicated to representing the music of Colombia’s Caribbean coastline, where African, Indigenous Indian and Spanish cultures mingle to create a unique musical tradition. Her music, driven by voices, flute and percussion, presents three distinct musical styles — Tambores,Sextetos and Gaitas. Totó’s records have become firm favourites in the hip-hop and EDM scenes, being routinely sampled by heavy-weights such as Timbaland, Michel Kleis, Manu Chao and most recently Jay-Z, who sampled ‘La Verdolaga’ on his 2017 Grammy nominated album


The new EP, Fuego, features four previously unreleased songs from the original 1991/1992 sessions, which were discovered in 2015 when the original master tapes were restored and digitally remastered.

“She's a majestic, powerful and versatile singer ...with sturdy Spanish-influenced ballads and dance songs.” THE GUARDIAN

“An ingenious, and justified, remastering project.” ★★★★★ SONGLINES (UK)

Totó la Momposina – Fuego




Toto Releases Oye Manita, the third in her retrospective series of albums.

Oye Manita

Totó la Momposina arrived in Paris in 1979 as a refugee with no French, no money and no abode. A theatre company took her under it’s wing and it wasn’t long before she was travelling through Provence with this group of mime artists, street performers and musicians, along with their hot-air balloon, double-decker bus, merry-go-round and mobile cinema. Totó’s formidable voice, charisma and songs were an instant success and France became a launch-pad for her career.

This album tells the story of Totó’s endearing relationship with France that continues to evolve today. The track list features the first recordings Totó made in Paris in the 1980s and cover her career until the present day, including previously unreleased songs. This is a quality package with beautiful artwork, ample sleeve notes and photos from the past and present.

The retrospective series … TAMBOLERO / OYE MANITA / LA VERDOLAGA

These releases are part of a retrospective series telling the (amazing) stories of Totó’s life and travels to date … a way of celebrating her career so far using notes, artwork and photos.

Chapter 1. Tambolero. 2015. Real World. This told the story of Totó’s relationship with England - along with the wider context of her life and career. It recreated the original La Candela Viva album - adding recordings and mixing everything afresh … effectively becoming a new record.

Chapter 2. Oye Manita. 2018. Astar Artes Recordings. This album tells the story of Totó’s relationship with France going back to the 1970s. Again it is a quality package with beautiful artwork, ample sleeve notes and photos from the past and present. The track list features the first recordings Totó made in Paris in the 1980s and cover her career until the present day, including previously unreleased songs.

La Verdolaga. 2018. Astar Artes. The vinyl is a bridge between the two. Here both chapters meet as the collections work in parallel and the stories with France and England inter-relate. On side A tracks from Real World’s Tambolero (inc an unreleased track recorded last year) and side B tracks from Oye Manita.

There is a nod here also to the extraordinary influence Totó’s music has had on dance music over the last decade, especially House and Hip-hop. Producers continue to be inspired by her soulful delivery and the hypnotic groove of her tambores and flutes - La Verdolaga being one of the most popular songs. One of the most recent samples was used by Jay-Z on his last album 4:44.

CYNEFIN Debut single

Musician Owen Shiers delves into his Welsh roots.
We’re happy to be supporting this fine new project Cynefin.
The journey begins with the debut single Cân Dyffryn Clettwr (Song of the Clettwr Valley) released today on Astar …..



AMJ meets RSD new album SKY BLUE LOVE

We are happy to be rolling out the debut album from the AMJ-RSD collaboration. A 15 track journey through chapters of dub quite unlike anything you will have heard before.

The album artwork is pretty special too featuring images from Japanese photographer Ikue Uyama plus fascinating sleeve notes telling the story of dub adventurer Rob Smith.

Already it is picking up some serious airplay including regular plays on David Rodigan's BBC Radio1Xtra show.

Now released in Japan and the UK with France and other European countries to come over the summer and autumn.

“An awesome album ... if you like dub and instrumental music you’re gonna love this! It really is very special.” DAVID RODIGAN BBC1Xtra


AMJ get serious on Oct 12th

AMJ meets RSD will release a new 10" vinyl single on the 12th of October.

1. Serious Signs 2. Second Drop

Mixed by Rob Smith. Produced by John Hollis.



Masterful work from Rob Smith and two more corkers from the AMJ treasure trove ....

The deep and heavy Serious Signs features soulful performances by Seckou Keita on kora, Michel 'Pata' Salazar on keyboards, Camilo Menjura on guitar and Michel Padron on trumpet.

Feel the ground move and your spirit rise!

The B is Second Drop, a fresh reworking of the first AMJ-RSD single Depth Drop, solid groove graced with fine guitar work from Camilo Menjura and horns from Michel Padron.

Toto releases "Tambolero"

totobanner We are proud to announce the release of a new album by Toto la Momposina.


Click here to buy the album and find more information on this release.

A re-creation and re-imagining of the classic 1993 album ‘La Candela Viva’.

"You don’t normally get the chance to go back in time and recreate an album. Building on a classic project that began 24 years ago is a challenge and a delight!" John Hollis, producer.

An invitation to perform at the WOMAD Festival led to Totó’s participation in the first Real World Recording Week and ultimately to the recording of the songs – with legendary American producer Phil Ramone at the controls in 1991 and English producer John Hollis for the follow-up sessions in 1992 – that would become La Candela Viva. The international success of La Candela Viva, and the following two albums Carmelina 1995 and Pacantó 1999 (MTM/Colombia), would ignite Totó’s career in Colombia and finally see her recognized as a star in her own country. The music has continued to endure, including being routinely sampled by the world of dance and hip-hop (Michel Cleis, Da R3volution and Timbaland, to name but a few).

It was during the search for the original master tapes to find the parts for a Michel Cleis dance track that producer (and now son-in-law of Totó) John Hollis discovered something rather remarkable. Amongst the original 2” master tapes was a treasure trove of material: some 40 takes of 20 different songs. Material all involved had forgotten existed, until then. Not only was there a wealth of recorded material from the La Candela Viva sessions that didn’t make the original album there were also a number of previously unreleased songs too.

To restore the analogue tapes, which would otherwise slowly deteriorate, the first job was to bake them (literally!) to remove any moisture that had accumulated, making them playable again. The recordings could then be digitised to work with modern technology. A process of reassessing all the different versions and new songs, re-editing and over-dubbing began. "At this point it occurred to me that Totó’s granddaughters would add a nice texture to some of the chorus lines,” explains John. Totó happily agreed: “Claro, ellos son mis choristas [of course, they are my backing singers].” Soon after, Maria del Mar and Oriana Melissa entered The Wood Room at Real World Studios, the very same space in which Totó and her band performed their set live 23 years earlier; Maria was present, a toddler at the time, and Oriana hadn’t been born. “It was a surreal moment and they delivered their parts beautifully,” adds John.

The result is Tambolero. More than just a re-release of La Candela Viva it is a genuine re-appraisal and re-imagining of the original. Tambolero is in effect a new album and one in which Totó La Momposina continues to reflect the experience of her native Colombia through her life and music. The two things are intertwined: the story of Totó La Momposina is truly the story of modern Colombia. It has also become a celebration of Totó’s professional career, which will soon reach a landmark 60 years – six decades dedicated to preserving, researching and developing an ancestral tradition, the identity of a people, passed down through the generations. This album is part of the REAL WORLD GOLD series of reissues.

AMJ Release BELIEVE on 15th June

Click to hear a snippet and available now for pre-order.  


Due for release on June 15th, Believe features Oriana Melissa on lead vocals. Oriana, the granddaughter of Colombian singer and Latin Grammy Award winner Totó la Momposina, recorded this track at the tender age of 18. Her honeyed vocals gracefully coat the heavyweight rhythm section of Andy Clarke and Mark Spence on drums and bass, propelled along with a superb dub-inflected mix from Rob Smith.

This is the first AMJ release featuring the live band:

  • Drums - Andy Clarke (JA/England)
  • Congas - Paolo Moussa Hollis (Colombia/England)
  • Bass - Mark Spence (JA/England)
  • Trumpet and keyboards - Michel Padron (Cuba)
  • Lead guitar - Owen Shiers (Wales)
  • Rhythm guitar - John Hollis (England)
  • Lead vocal - Oriana Melissa Hollis (Colombia/England)
  • Chorus - Maria del Mar Hollis (Colombia/England)
  • Chorus - Camilo Menjura (Colombia)

Believe Believe Artwork

AMJ to release Heartbeat with RSD

Click on the image above to hear excerpts!

Here come the AMJ Collective with their next vinyl offering to be released on Mon March 16th.

Heartbeat …. a powerhouse of a tune dropping the nyabinghi rhythm.

Features the drum and bass duo of Mark Spence and Andy Clarke, horns by Michel Padron and African flute from Dramane Dembele.

With Rob Smith at the controls, this is another tasty delivery from the AMJ-RSD crew. Flip side brings a chilled steppers in Blue Mountain, guest strings courtesy of Cuban trio Patricia Flechilla, Xotchil Lopez and Indira Perez.

Stay tuned for more info and some tasty excerpts...

Clychau Dibon released in France and Switzerland today!


Clychau Dibon est la rencontre heureuse et inespérée entre la harpe celtique de la galloise Catrin Finch et la kora (la harpe africaine) du sénégalais Seckou Keita. Un conte de fées, de bardes et de bons esprits au service d’une quête de partage musical.

Réunir dans un même écrin, les sons mêlés de ces deux instruments si éloignés et si similaires est une idée qui a fait son chemin dans l’esprit de John Hollis, co-producteur du disque, depuis les années 80 lorsqu’il sillonnait l’Afrique mandingue en compagnie de Toumani Diabaté. Et certaines idées ont la vie dure ! Ce projet de rencontre, tel un écho du passé ressurgit lors de discussions entre John Hollis et Dilwyn Davis (Théâtre Mwldan de Cardigan, Pays de Galles) qui partageaient la même vision afro-celtique du mariage des cordes et qui deviendra l’autre co-producteur de l’album. Mais pour donner sens et corps à cette démarche il convenait de le faire avec les meilleurs représentants de chaque discipline.

Catrin Finch, « reine de la harpe », harpiste officielle du Prince de Galles d’un côté, Toumani Diabaté, génie malien des 21 cordes de l’autre. La rencontre est planifiée, répétitions, concerts. Malheureusement les évènements au Mali ont eu raison de la présence à temps de Toumani pour les répétitions. C’est Seckou Keita qui prit le relais et échangé avec Catrin sur le répertoire. Une vraie rencontre entre les deux artistes. Les concerts de Catrin et Toumani furent un triomphe et Seckou, invité sur scène par le duo affirma un charisme époustouflant, une élégante puissance de jeu ainsi qu’une humilité déconcertante entre ces deux monstres sacrés. Comme une évidence, en 2012, Catrin et Seckou décidèrent de consommer ensemble ce mariage de cordes et d’enregistrer cet album de feu.

Seckou Keita, naît en 1978 et grandit à Ziguinchor, capitale de la Casamance, au Sud du Sénégal. Il est élevé dans la maison des Cissokho, ses grands parents maternels, dans la pratique et la fabrication de tous les instruments traditionnels, kora, percussions diverses (seourouba, sabar, djembé). Famille de griots, les Cissokho sont des joueurs de kora. A l’âge de sept ans il construit sa première kora, à quatorze il apprend et restitue le répertoire mandingue. Egalement excellent percussionniste, il s’installe en Angleterre en 1998, base arrière de ses multiples tournées internationales. Catrin Finch quant à elle, sensiblement du même âge que Seckou, découvre la harpe à l’âge de 5 ans, quand elle assiste au concert d’une harpiste espagnole. Elle est subjuguée. Elle entame alors un cursus traditionnel et à 9 ans, elle a déjà terminé sa formation. Elle continuera de se perfectionner avec l’une des harpistes les plus renommées du pays, Elinor Bennett. A l’âge de 19 ans elle sera invitée à jouer à Buckingham Palace et deviendra entre 2000 et 2004 la harpiste officielle du palais. A ce titre elle ne cessera de voyager et de représenter son pays dans de multiples manifestations culturelles. Grâce à son statut et sa notoriété elle entend changer l’image qui est généralement celle de la harpe. Elle entend prouver à travers ce type de projet que la harpe n’est pas seulement un instrument médiéval très codifié mais également un incroyable vecteur d’émotions et de partage.

Deux artistes, deux cultures mais un héritage commun, celui des instruments à cordes au son de cristal, mais aussi deux pays imprégnés de cette tradition des bardes d’un côté, des griots de l’autre.

On y transmet les valeurs par le récit, l’oralité, la musique, la poésie. A l’écoute de l’album, on est estomaqués par cette alchimie, le résultat est saisissant, chaque titre, qu’il soit un traditionnel gallois ou une composition de Seckou est restitué comme s’ils les avaient toujours joués ensemble. Un album à mettre entre toutes les oreilles.


Clychau, en gaélique signifie la cloche, les Dibons sont des oiseaux présents notamment le long du fleuve Niger en Guinée. Ils vivent en couple pendant la journée et se séparent toutes les nuits pour retourner dans leur arbre respectif. Au petit matin, lorsqu’ils veulent se rejoindre, l’un chante et l’autre répond en volant vers lui. Ces appels ont été entendus par des chasseurs et restitués à l’aide de percussions. Ce rythme dibon accompagne généralement le retour des fermiers au village. Le dibon est aussi le nom donné à la deuxième corde de la kora.

SIGN FROM AMJ released

The debut album from the AMJ Collective is now released. Sign features mixes from all four AMJ departments - Almighty Groove, Dub, RSD and Space.

Dub Maestro Rob Smith is no stranger to innovative sonic adventures, a Bristol man who emerged from the reggae scene of the 80s as a guitarist and engineer, later developing his craft as a producer, DJ and re-mixer. Known for his work in Smith & Mighty and More Rockers, now piloting his own unique RSD sound, Rob tours constantly, performing in many countries across the globe.

Space mixes
Jonathan Lane worked with the BBC for ten years, plying his craft as an engineer with Radios 1, 2, 3 and 4 and network TV. Afterwards he set up his own recording business in Bristol specialising in acoustic and classical music working with many artists from Andy Sheppard to the London Philharmonic Orchestra.

logo2 sm

AMJ release Sign Of The Space

Following on from the success of their Depth Drop and Sign Of The Dub 7" release and as a taster to the full blown album due in the Summer,  AMJ have now released Sign Of The Space. A fabulous ambient 4 track EP remixed by Jonathan Lane.

Jonathan Lane joined the BBC in 1979, plying his craft as an engineer for ten years with Radios 1, 2, 3 and 4 and network TV, working with many major artists and producers as well as presenters from John Peel and Paul Gambaccini to Kenny Everett and Terry Wogan.

In 1989 he left the BBC and set up his freelance studio and location recording business in Bristol. Working on countless classical and jazz sessions with figures including Andy Sheppard, Pewee Ellis, Sir David Willcocks, John Lill, Mark Padmore and ensembles such as the Solomon Trio, the Sun Life Band and the London Philharmonic Orchestra, he has developed a very fine understanding of acoustic instruments. In 1998 he began engineering sessions for producer John Hollis who brought a steady stream of international artists into the studio from Totó la Momposina and Cimarron to Billy Cobham and Asere, then finally the AMJ Collective.

AMJ is Andy Clark, Mark Spence and John Hollis. Brought together by reggae and motivated by a shared dub sensibility, they have been working with a collective of musicians from harpist Catrin Finch to kora player Seckou Keita (both of whom feature on these sessions) building a unique sound which they take into very different sonic and musical spheres.

Jonathan was given the challenge of ‘space mixes’, the concept being akin to dub but using subtle acoustic arrangement rather than relying solely on effects.  He responded by drawing on a lifetime of musical experience, from which he weaves a rich and innovative sound world. Enjoy the journey.


Seckou appears on Jazz FM CD and BA

Seckou's track Hino will be appearing on the latest Jazz FM limited edition compilation available from Jan. The CD entitled "A world of Discovery" will also be carried on all BA planes in flight entertainment systems,on both short and long haul.
This album, which is the third in the series, consists of a unique selection of largely undiscovered tracks from many of the less known corners of the musical globe
Have a listen as you fly...

Depth Drop Digital Release: 12 November

 Depth Drop and Sign Of The Dub by AMJ, previously only available as a 7" single, is now being released digitally.

Use the player above to order your copy!

RSD re-mix tracks from the AMJ Collective …..

Dub Maestro Rob Smith is no stranger to innovative sonic adventures, a Bristol man who emerged from the reggae scene of the 80s as a guitarist and engineer, later developing his craft as a producer, DJ and re-mixer. Known for his work in Smith & Mighty and More Rockers, now piloting his own unique RSD sound, Rob tours constantly, performing in many countries across the globe.

The trio that is AMJ, Andy Clarke (drums), Mark Spence (bass) and John Hollis (producer) have been building their new project called The Almighty Groove,  inviting a Collective of musicians from different places (Cuba, Colombia, Senegal etc) to record on their sessions - acoustic instruments and live performance being a main feature of the work.

 AMJ meets RSD is a new collaboration and Depth Drop the first single …..

Invited to delve into the AMJ Treasure Trove, Rob draws on his pallet of sounds and effects to take the imagination large. Warm and bass heavy, enter a world of sonic delight …..

Seckou Keita: Miro album released

We are very proud to announce that Seckou Keita's brand new album "Miro" is now available on iTunes and all other digital retailers. The actual CD will be available in the shops and on Amazon from the 8th October (although anyone going to the live shows will be able to get their's a little bit early... and get it signed too!). Please use the player to listen to previews of all the tracks and press the links below it to buy the album from your favourite store..

Toto track El Pescador for Womad 30th Anniversary release on Real World

We are honoured to announce that Toto's track El Pecador has been chosen for the WOMAD 30th anniversary celebration CD. This album is a celebration of the wonderful Real World artists who have performed at WOMAD over the years. The relationship between WOMAD and Real World Records was apparent from day one and almost all of Real World's roster have subsequently trod WOMAD's boards at some point. Quite a few, like Toto have done so many times. This 30-track tribute is an assembly of those Real World artists who've been most closely connected with the festival over the last three decades and we are proud to be a part of it!

Seckou releases Miro in September

The album Miro will be released in September and Seckou will be touring the UK in the autumn with a new band, dates will be announced soon.
An EP download entitled Rewmi comes out on June 4th featuring 3 tracks from the album.
Seckou is delivering a show representing 8 African nations for the Cultural Olympiad in July, as part of the BT River of Music event.
In short Seckou Keita is an artist to watch in 2012 …… stay tuned!