Artists announced for Africa Express: The Circus

13 February 2019


Africa Express
  • Africa Express - the collective of African and Western musicians - will play a one-off headline show 'Africa Express: The Circus' on Friday 29 March
  • First artists to be announced as part of the gig line-up include Batida, Damon Albarn, Django Django, Ellie Rowsell (Wolf Alice), Gruff Rhys, Imarhan, Joan As Police Woman, Mista Silva, Moonchild Sanelly, Muzi, Onipa, Rokia Traoré, Sibot,  The Good The Bad & The Queen
  • Tickets from £16.50 go on pre-sale for Waltham Forest residents on Friday 15 February at 10am, and public sale on Monday 18 February at 10am ​
  • Supported by the Mayor of London, the show will demonstrate to the word that 'London is open'.


“…a timely reminder of the power and joy of music.” – NME

“…the mood onstage …one of collective euphoria and unstoppable celebration.” – THE TIMES


Following acclaimed outings in Africa, Europe and across Britain, Africa Express: The Circus will see musical legends, emerging new artists, vocalists, DJs and producers from Africa, the West and Waltham Forest come together on 29th March for a celebratory cross-cultural collaboration in Leytonstone, where Africa Express co-founder Damon Albarn grew up, as part of London Borough of Culture 2019.

A big top circus tent will be erected on Wanstead Flats, the southernmost part of Epping Forest in Leytonstone, with rehearsals for the event taking place in nearby Leytonstone where participating artists including Batida, Damon Albarn, Django Django, Ellie Rowsell (Wolf Alice), Gruff Rhys, Imarhan, Joan As Police Woman, Mista Silva, Moonchild Sanelly, Muzi , Onipa, Rokia Traoré, Sibot and The Good, The Bad & The Queen will unite for a process of discovery, collaboration and music-making, culminating in a joyous, one-off live performance in the heart of Waltham Forest.

Waltham Forest will be working to ensure that local residents are able to access this highlight of the year-long London Borough of Culture programme, with targeted and priority ticketing plans.

Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London, said: “Despite London’s position as an international culture capital, too many young Londoners do not have access to our city’s exceptional cultural institutions and feel unable to get involved. London Borough of Culture is a real gamechanger – it puts culture at the heart of local communities and ensures young Londoners can access the transformative power of art and music. Africa Express: The Circus will be a spectacular show, bringing together artists from across the world in Waltham Forest.”

And speaking ahead of what promises to be a very special show, a number of participating artists added:

“I am excited for the next Africa Express show in Waltham Forest. I am always elated by these extraordinary and unique adventures, which also happen to be an opportunity for me to spend time with artists that I love and I do not often get to see.  To be headlining the first London Borough of Culture is a wonderful bonus." - Rokia Traoré

“Growing up in a multi-racial community like Leytonstone had a profound effect on me as a boy, being so near to magical places such as Epping Forest… The Wanstead Flats helped define who I am, so this is a great honour personally.” - Damon Albarn

“I’ve been waiting a decade to play in London and it’s gonna be LIT to play in Leytonstone, it sounds cool and diverse AF.  I’m bringing the GCOM to the Forest!” - Moonchild Sanelly

“Really excited to be involved in Africa Express again, I have a lot of amazing memories from the last project. The North and East of London in general have been my stomping ground for some time now, so it’s exciting to bring something to my own back yard, as it were. Looking forward to getting involved and meeting a load of new people.”Dave Maclean (Django Django)

“Our home studio is in Leyton, Waltham Forest. It's an inspiring place to make music as it has the calmness of the marshes, Epping Forest and the River Lea but is still a diverse, multicultural hub with the energy of the city. It's a real honour to be involved with the Africa Express show. Me and K.O.G (Kweku of Ghana) are extremely grateful for the opportunity to collaborate with so many world class musicians on home turf!” - Tom Excell (Onipa)

"We can’t wait to bring our remodelled sounds of Lesotho to this vibrant part of London. Collaborating with other artists to reach international audiences has always been at the core of what we do." - Morena Leraba 

Cllr Clare Coghill, Leader of Waltham Forest Council, said: “We are so excited to be hosting the world renowned Africa Express in Waltham Forest. To see Damon Albarn’s personal connection to Leytonstone manifest in an event of global magnitude, featuring an unbelievably talented and diverse collective, is a real coup. Africa Express explores the concept of boundaries and celebrates the power of music to unite. It brings together communities and cultures to create an incredible experience, which is what London Borough of Culture 2019 is all about. Africa Express: The Circus will be truly unforgettable.”

Hailed as the most revolutionary force in popular music for two decades, Africa Express brings together musicians from different cultures, genres and generations to break boundaries and offer a new perspective on Africa and its music. Each event is unique, based upon on-the-spot collaboration and filled with unique moments of magic.

For programme updates and to book tickets visit the London Borough of Culture 2019 website.