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The Good Ones: Tiny Desk Concert

Zayrha Rodriguez
/
NPR

It is difficult to merely take in a performance by the Rwandan group known as The Good Ones. The pathos of the band and the country's recent history permeates the duo's existence and its music.

Adrian Kazigira and Janvier Havugimana were taught music by the latter's older brother, who then perished during the country's brutal genocide. They formed a band as a way to process their nation's trauma and also bring together Rwanda's three tribes: Tutsi, Hutu, and Abatwa.

From the start, the simple guitar fingerpicking style and very sparse rhythm guide the plaintive vocals into a trance-like meditation. The music is a fascinating mix of guitar strumming that combines the kind of cyclical song form you hear on the West African kora and vocal harmonizing common to many African musical traditions.

The group's origin story may be tragic, but The Good Ones' determination to spread its musical message is an inspiration.

SET LIST

  • "The Farmer"
  • "Mon Cheri"
  • "Seraphinne, You are the Prettiest Woman in the World"
  • "Young People Are the Future"

MUSICIANS

  • Adrien Kazigira: acoustic guitar, vocals
  • Janvier Havugimana: percussion, guitar, vocals
  • Marilena Umuhoza Delli: translator, spokesperson
  • Marie Reed Elementary School Singers
  • Choir Director: Sandra Granobles
  • Liya Springfield
  • Naomi Quinn
  • Faria Mojeb
  • Markan Beshir
  • Ezra Beshir
  • Zylei Jones
  • Cuore Dea Umutoni Brennan
  • Erick Turcios-Maldonado

TINY DESK TEAM

  • Producers: Felix Contreras, Bob Boilen
  • Director/Editor: Kara Frame
  • Audio Engineer: Josh Rogosin
  • Series Producer: Bobby Carter
  • Videographers: Kara Frame, Maia Stern, Joshua Bryant
  • Audio Assistant: Neil Tevault
  • Production Assistant: Elle Mannion
  • Photographer: Zayrha Rodriguez
  • Tiny Desk Team: Suraya Mohamed, Ashley Pointer, Hazel Cills
  • VP, Visuals and Music: Keith Jenkins
  • Senior VP, Programming: Anya Grundmann
Felix Contreras is co-creator and host of Alt.Latino, NPR's pioneering radio show and podcast celebrating Latin music and culture since 2010.