Last night I had the great privilege to meet Staff Benda Bilili, a Congolese band from Kinshasa, who were performing at the Union Chapel in London. I met the band backstage and it was great to meet disabled musicians who have overcome polio and homelessness to be on a world stage. I share so much with them, not only being disabled by polio and the effect it has on families but also the realisation of being given the opportunity to achieve your dreams.
Before the gig we saw the film,'Benda Bilili' which charts their rise from the streets of Kinshasa to stardom in Europe. It is a beautiful film full of humour, sadness, inspiration but above all, wonderful music. The packed house gave the film a justly deserved standing ovation. I loved it and would highly recommend it to anyone who is reading this.
I felt very honoured to be asked to say a few words before the band came onstage and despite my nerves I managed to get through my few words before the band arrived to perform.
Watching them on stage was a joyous experience. They performed as a team full of brilliant individuals and the music had everyone present on their feet dancing. I actually did my dancing in my wheelchair, just like them, and had a really great time. I have never seen a vocalist on crutches put so much energy into their singing and dancing, and the effect was electrifying! Watch out for Staff Benda Bilili on their upcoming tour of Europe and be prepared to have a seriously good time. You will also be inspired, amazed and your views about life and disability will be challenged. "STAFF BENDA BILILI!!!!"
Labels: 'I Dance in my Dreams', Congolese, disability, film, Kinshasa, polio, Staff Benda Bilili, Union Chapel