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AfricOriginal: Justino Delgado

AfricOriginal: Justino Delgado


Justino Gomes Delgado, known as ‘Juju’ to close family and friends, was born on November 03, 1963, in Onhocomo, Ilha dos Bijagós. He was firmly connected to his roots and was raised on the island of Bijagós by his parents, both stemming from typical tribes from the island. His father Tomas Gomes, from the tribe of Mancanha and his mother Basiliana Gomes, from the tribe of Papel. It is said that he received his vocal talent from his mother, who possessed a natural beautiful singing voice and his energetic dancing moves from his father, who was well known in the region as a talented dancer. His talent for singing was discovered at a young age and under the watchful eye of his parents he began his artistic career and studies at the Bubaqye Center of the Bijagós Archipelago. In 1973 he moved to the city of Bissau where he started to make his mark on the musical scene of Guinean music.

In 1978 he founded and lead the student-youth musical group called: “Flower of Africa”. In 1979 he was invited to join the group “Africa Livre”, one of the most popular youth bands in Bissau at that time. This group was composed of musicians of great notoriety: his brother Nélson, renowed Manecas Costa, Beto Afanche, Jorge Mino and Djanuno Dabó.

From 1982 to 1986 he invested energy in his solo career, where he made many appearances as a special guest artist in concerts with groups: Africa Livre, Super Mama Djombo and Nkassa Cobra. As his fame increased, so did his popularity and the renowned artist had a big following not only as a vocalist and composer but also as a political figure. He started using his voice and talent as a vehicle to express the political climate in Guinea Bissau which was very hostile and heated. It was during this time that Juju was forbidden to leave the country, in fact he was only permitted to reside within the territory of Guinea Bissau. Feeling the weight of political tensions, the Guinean artist attempted to leave Guinea Bissau for Portugal, but between 1985 and 1986 he was arrested which resulted in an imprisonment that would last for over one year.

Soon afterwards Delgado fled Guinnea Bissau in 1987 and went to Dakar, Senegal with renowned guitarist, composer and cousin, Tony Delgado. They stayed in Senegal for a period of six months. In this same year, he was invited to participate in the Festival of Journalists Lusófonos that took place in Portugal. In 1989 he released his first LP “Casamenti D’Haós” which Guinnean criol means: Wedding of Today. This album launched him in Portugal and made him known in Europe and in the rest of the world. At that time artists from Guinea Bissau never really made it outside the country and he was the only one that did. Highlights and hit songs included Bubaque Tchom di Budjugo which involved a collaboration with the great Cabo Verdean musician Paulino Vieira, it was recorded in Lisbon. The album was a tribute to the Island of Bijagós, Justino’s birth place. 

♫ Audio: 1989 – Justino Delgado – Casamenti D’haös

At the end of the 80’s/early 90’s, the artist participated in several concerts and tours in Portugal, Guinea Bissau, Angola, Cape Verde, Senegal, Spain, Germany, Switzerland, Russia, United Kingdom Etc. In 1991 he released his second album Lola. Amongst many songs was the hit tune Montpellier written in homage to the city of Montpellier, France which he sang with the famous Angolan artist Eduardo Paim, and Guinean friend and colleague Fernando da Gôia (Bidinte). Lola received the golden album award in Portugal. In 1992 he released his third album Gabiana with the participation of great Guinean musician Manecas Costas on rhythm and bass guitars.

In 1995 he released one of his more well known albums Tetété in which he participated with Manecas Costa, Tony Dúdu, and the Portuguese Fado singer: Mariza. In 1996 he was invited to perform a mega concert at the National Stadium in Bissau to15 thousand people. After returning from enormous success to Portugal the musician continued with tours in Angola, Cape Verde, Spain, Germany, United Kingdom, Holland, Switzerland and the US.

♫ Audio: 1995 – Justino Delgado – Tétété

In 1997 he released his fourth album “Geraçon Nobo”, which had a different influence as a big portion of it had been recorded in Brazil.The Album had the participation of renowned vocalists: Liana Tina, Maurício J Barbosa and Clóvis Lardo. Among many songs featured was the hit song Telefone which was a personal homage to his father who had been very ill.

In 1998, Guinea Bissau suffered another political, military conflict in Bissau when the artist decided to release his fifth album called “Toroco”. This album was followed in 2000 by the album Farol. In 2004 he released the album Ley di Byda. From  this album the song Marcas do Tempo became a great hit in Guinea Bissau. In 2007 he released his album entitled Dum D’tchom where Juju pays homage to several of his deceased great colleagues from the Guinean music scene. In 2014 he released the album Estátua with the hit songs Maria Augusta, Maria Amelia and Cobardo cata puntadu Cuma de curpo.

Justino Delgado released his most recent album “Rubane” in July 2020. The album contains 12 songs in various styles. With this album the musician celebrates the 40th birthday [in 2019] of his enormous musical career. For several decades now, Juju has been one of Guinea Bissau’s most popular singers with 12 albums to his name, including a “Best of”.

He was distinguished many times at home and abroad. He is also the Ambassador of modern Guinean music and leads the band Dokolma, an old band of which he was a part, but which he restored in recent years and who sometimes accompanies him in his concerts.


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