With multiple Latin Grammy and Billboard award nominations and dozens of hits throughout the globe, Manu Chao is an international star. A truly multicultural artist, Chao’s work combines punk rock, salsa, reggae, ska, French chanson and Algerian rai, among other styles. He’s as likely to sing in Portuguese, Arabic and Wolof as in Spanish, French or English but “Chao’s music is so sonically vivid, so gloriously evocative, translation seems almost superfluous” (Entertainment Weekly).
Born in Paris, Chao grew up in a multilingual household often visited by artists, intellectuals and political activists. As a teen he was entranced by the ’70s U.K. punk scene, particularly the Clash. With his brother and cousin, Chao formed the wildly eclectic Mano Negra, which had a French hit single “Mala Vida” that was popular throughout Europe. After Mano Negra’s demise, Chao drifted around South America with his guitar and a 4-track recorder, researching and absorbing the roots music of his heritage.
His solo career launched in 1998 with the award-winning album Clandestino, followed in 2001 by the European hit Proxima Estacion: Esperanza. After a busy year performing at U.S. Festivals and gaining an even bigger fan base in the states, Chao released 2007’s La Radiolina which critics call “not so much a world music record as a global-rock mission statement” (Uncut).
The Los Angeles Times wrote, “like an intermittent short-wave transmission that suddenly catches a clear and vivid frequency, Radiolina comes into sharp focus, defining a mature sound in a mesmerizing collection.”