Strut present Mabanzo - the debut solo album by Congolese vocalist, Juanita Euka. A familiar face to many from London’s vibrant live music scene over the last decade, Juanita has fronted London Afrobeat Collective’s dynamic live shows, the fusions and cross-pollinations of Animanz and maverick Cuban collective Wara. As a solo artist, she broke through in early 2020, performing her single ‘Alma Seca’ in season 3 of blockbuster series Killing Eve.
Born in RD Congo and brought up in Buenos Aires, Juanita’s upbringing involved many different musical influences, not least her uncle, Congolese rumba giant Franco Luambo Makiadi. “In Argentina, I listened to a wide range of style from African American artists to Dominican stars like Juan Luis Guerra, the Congolese greats like my uncle and Papa Wemba and various music from Argentina including Mercedes Sosa. Some of my main inspirations were (and still are) international Afro-Cuban artists like Celia Cruz and La Lupe.” Moving to the UK aged 14, she immersed herself in London’s own sounds, from garage to grime.
On Mabanzo (meaning ‘Thoughts’), Juanita brings her many and varied musical influences into play and pulls no lyrical punches. Killer dancefloor single ‘Nalingi Mobali Te’ is pure contemporary Congolese guitar gold, ‘Mboka Moka’ channels ‘80s boogie and Quincy horn stylings on an anthem for personal struggle and ‘Baño de Oro’ brings a heavy Afro-Cuban workout. Elsewhere, the epic ballad ‘Sueños de Libertad’ is an impassioned call for freedom and the lilting ‘For All It’s Worth’ champions love over materialism.