Hidden in the Parc de Champagne, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Magnifique Society hosts festival goers from the local cities of Epernay and Troyes and as far as Paris, Lille, Amiens or Brussels. For the 2023 edition, the Magnifique Society brought major Francophone acts like Aya Nakamura and Angèle with an extension into the African music sphere via Lova Lova, Kabeaush and Afrobeats superstar Rema.
This year, PAM, in partnership with Nyege Nyege, did a takeover of one of the stages, inviting Ugandan DJ Decay and Tanzanian mother-daughter duo Queen Asher and Rehema Tajiri. A 100% feminine set mixing the trap, dancehall and afro-electro beats of DJ Decay and the frenetic singeli sounds of Queen Asher and Rehema.
Singeli, a descendant of Tanzania’s taraab music, is a hyper-fast, piano-laden sound that is currently popping off in the neighbourhoods of Dar es Salaam. A genre dominated by males, producer and DJ Queen Asher and singer and frontwoman Rehema Tajiri are bringing a new flavor to the scene, both at home and around the world.
Locally, singeli has a reputation as hoodlum music. Weed smokers and knife wielders have become associated with the chaotic rhythms and cardio pace. “I wanted to change the image of singeli,” Rehema Tajiri, Asher’s mother, explains. “My lyrics are mostly about being happy and life in general.”
Starting out as a Congolese dancer and musician, Rehema, Asher’s mother, was drawn into the game despite her age. Her years allow her to “educate the youth on how to live better” in a time when singeli is taking over stages around the world. It’s a responsibility. Asher, who produces her own beats and mixes live on stage, takes on a different responsibility as a woman. “I’m giving [singeli] some other vibe which is full of feminine energy and confidence,” she says. “Everyone has their own magical thing, so I wanted to try and find my own.”
More than partners or mother and daughter, Asher and Rehema are friends. Sleeping on each other’s shoulders during long bus rides on tour, watching Rema perform and meeting him backstage, and glittering up before “singeli time” on stage. The duo are on a mission and hold a title.
“We are the queens of singeli music,” Rehema says proudly.