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Music of Liberia

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Title: Music of Liberia  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
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Subject: Music of Africa, Demographics of Liberia, History of Liberia, Music of Mali, Outline of music
Collection: Liberian Music
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Music of Liberia

The music of Liberia is less modern than the music of neighboring countries; it consists of many tribal beats. Liberian music is often spoken in one of their native dialects, or colloquial.


  • Traditional music 1
  • Popular music 2
  • Hipco 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5

Traditional music

The indigenous ethnic groups of Liberia can be linguistically divided into three groups; those in the east who speak the isolate Gola language and the Mel languages (particularly Kissi) and those in the west who speal Kru languages (particularly Bassa). To these must be added the Mande people (the Kpelle are Liberia's largest ethnic group) in the north as well as Liberian repatriates (Americo-Liberians, Congo, Caribbean)

Liberian music makes particular use of vocal harmony, repetition and call-and-response song structure as well as such typical West African elements as ululation and the polyrhythm typical of rhythm in Sub-Saharan Africa. Christian music was introduced to Liberia by American missionaries and Christian songs are now sung in a style that mixes American harmonies with West African language, rhythm and call-and-response format.

Traditional music is performed at weddings, naming ceremonies, royal events and other special occasions, as well as ordinary children's songs, work songs and lullabies. Rap and pop music are also performed in indigenous languages across the country.

Popular music

Highlife music is very popular in Liberia, as elsewhere in West Africa. It is a combination of North American, West African and Latin American styles, and emerged in the 1950s in Ghana, Sierra Leone and Liberia, especially among the Liberian Kru people, who were sailors that played Spanish guitar, banjo, pennywhistle, harmonica, accordion, mandolin and concertina [1].

Past and present musicians include Princess Hawa Daisy Moore, Fatu Gayflor, Nimba Burr, Tejajlu, Morris Dorley, Yatta Zoe, Anthony "Experience" Nagbe Gebah Swaray, Kandakai Duncan and Miatta Fahnbulleh. Of these Dorley deserves special notice for having spearheaded a movement to create a national Liberian identity, alongside musicians like Anthony "Experience" Nagbe. Dorley's popular songs include "Grand Gedeh County" and "Who Are You Baby".

There is a new breed of budding musicians now in Liberia. They have created their own style called HIP-CO which is usually in the Liberian English or local vernacular. This music is very popular with both youth and adults. It touches on all aspects of life in Liberia. The country's most renowned radio station is ELBC, or the Liberian Broadcasting Corporation.

In 1963, President Tubman set-up the new Cape-Palmas Military Band. Israeli Bandmaster Aharon Shefi, formed and conducted a 56 pieces Concert and Marching Band which performed Liberian, American and universal folk and church music. The CPMB has performed at the January 1st 1964 Ptesident Tubman's Inauguration in Monrovia. Heads of states from all over the world,expressed their high impression and extended compliments on the high quality of the Band. Among the pieces played' were Highlife, original marches by the late Liberian composer Victor Bowya, National Anthem and The Lone Star Forever. The CPMB had also performed in Churches, schools, Holidays and Military parades and official events.


Liberian Music has taken a new dimension with the new Hipco artists changing the style of music. Hipco ("Co" for short) is uniquely Liberian. In short, it's the music of vernacular speech, the style of communication with which Liberians speak and relate to each other. Hipco evolved in the 1980s and has always been socially and politically bent. In the '90s it continued to develop through the civil wars, and today stands as a definitive mark of Liberian culture.[1]

Some young Liberians who have come to prominence through their charismatic Hipco messages are Luckay Buckay, Takun-J, Bone Dust, Red Rum, Kenny Da Knowledge Noy-Z, Real Mighty, Mighty Blow, Picador, Benevolence, Sundaygar Dearboy and T-Five. These rappers have been able to remind their listeners and fans about the history of Liberia.

Songs like "Behold Behold" by Luckay Buckay, "It Not Right" by Takun-J featuring Luckay Buckay, and "Technique" by Bone Dust have been among the many prominent songs that have told people of the government lack of consciousness for her people, prostitution, jealousy, hatred, envy and fornication all over Liberia.

See also


  1. ^ "Takun J – Hip-Co in Liberia". Retrieved 2012-06-06. 
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