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Afropop Worldwide said "their ace-up-the-sleeve: the singer Kaleta, whose James Brown grunts have got to be some of the best in the business."
With an iconic, forceful grunt, Leon Ligan-Majek, the veteran afrobeat vocalist and composer better known as KALETA, cues a hard hitting horn section on his debut single “Mr. Diva,” immediately claiming Brooklyn’s fearless Super Yamba Band as his own. Kaleta—a native of Benin Republic whose guitar chops earned him decades of recording and international touring with Fela Kuti’s Egypt 80, King Sunny Ade’s African Beats and more recently Lauryn Hill—has found the perfect match in his youthful, explosive new band.
Kaleta & Super Yamba Band’s debut single, “Mr. Diva,” draws on the group’s shared reverence for the raw, psychedelic afrofunk sound that captivated Kaleta as a music loving kid in 1970s Benin. Driven by a powerful horn section bouncing on top of a vamping, retro organ, “Mr. Diva” is a heavy dance anthem that packs a powerful message. Singing in the Beninese dialect, Goun, Kaleta decries the state of today’s ego-driven, selfie-centric society. But with cutting guitars, an irresistibly groovy talking drum, and a rhythm section locked into a heavy Benin-style groove, “Mr. Diva” transports you to the kind of sweaty Brooklyn dance parties that Super Yamba built its reputation on.
Since taking the helm of Super Yamba in late 2017, Kaleta and his band have erupted onto the stages and video screens of major music festivals, rock clubs, and music publications across the east coast. They prompted Action Bronson to stop his own show on VICELAND TV just so he could hear more Yamba. They rocked Paste Magazine’s Manhattan studio and its Emerging Music Festival, and the World Music Institute invited them to perform twice at Brooklyn Bowl, once for its Masters of African Music Series and later for its Festival of Mali. Afropop Worldwide fell in love with Kaleta, saying “his James Brown grunts have got to be some of the best in the business!”
The release of “Mr. Diva” lands amidst a busy festival season with performances at FloydFest, Lake Eden Arts Festival, Levitt AMP Music Series, MusikFest, Summer on the Hudson, and more. At this pace, there’s no stopping Kaleta & Super Yamba Band, and “Mr. Diva” is only a taste of what’s to come when the full LP is released later this fall.
“Mr. Diva” was recorded live to tape at Hive Mind Recording in Brooklyn, NY, and was produced by Vince Chiarito (Charles Bradley and his Extraordinaires, Ikebe Shakedown). The song features bandleader Daniel Yount on drumset with Evan Frierson (percussion), Sean Smith (trumpet and keys), Walter Fancourt (tenor saxophone), Eric Burns (guitar), and Vince Chiarito (bass).