About Bembeya Music Inc.

Bembeya Music is a not-for-profit cultural organisation that works to:

 – Foster and cultivate African music and related activities, in Sydney particularly, and Australia generally

– Increase community awareness of African music and musicians; and

– facilitate musical and cultural collaborations involving African music.

 It achieves these objectives by funding and managing various projects, including performances, recordings, workshops, film, and multimedia.

It embraces multiculturalism and encourages the expression of cultural diversity.


For over a generation African artists resident in Australia have been collaborating with non-African artists producing their own blend of traditional and original music in an attempt to impact upon Australian musical sensibilities with their impressive and exotic rhythms and melodies. Public interest and participation in this unique niche in Afro-Australian culture has moved in ebbs and flows. Without the stability of an organised cultural movement, the accessibility of African music culture in Australia has declined.

Every year international artists touring Australia present versions of AfroCentric musical styles, performing to sold out audiences across the country: testimony to the enormous public interest in this music. Bembeya Music wants to act as a definitive resource from which AfroCentric music in Australia can develop and expand culturally, offering opportunities to artists and audiences, and promoting creativity, diversity and excellence.

What To Expect

Bembeya Music seeks to bring together Australia’s leading and most innovative local artists in collaboration on projects to produce new works, designed to develop the cultural integrity of AfroCentric music in Australia.

Its primary function will be to invest in the talents of local artists by creating a working platform on which musical projects can be constructed, and brought to a wider, more diverse audience. It will use its resources to support new compositions, performances, recordings, tours and other activities, all with the aim of re-invigorating African music culture in Sydney and throughout Australia.

Artists, arts managers and audiences partaking in the Bembeya Music experience can expect new levels of creativity and presentational expertise to arise as a direct result of funding efforts and artistic direction from within Bembeya Music’s project strategy.

The Future

Bembeya Music is dedicated to becoming a key organisation in terms of Australian arts and cultural funding initiatives.

As part of reaching this critical position, it will gather momentum towards the formation of a resident professional cultural ensemble, capable of representing AfroCentric music in Australia, as well as internationally as a cultural export.

Bembeya Music will be striving to achieve long-term funding, as well as seeking corporate sponsorships / partnerships, and pursuing a range of other funding sources to support its artists and arts workers into successful and professional music careers. It hopes to enrich the lives of audiences and communities while allowing for ongoing development for generations to come.

John and Mark performing with the Okapi Guitar Band.

Bembeya Music was established in August 2011 by Mark Chambers and John Laidler.

Mark Chambers has actively studied African percussion for the past 15 years. His passion for music has lead him to journey through various countries in West Africa with a particular emphasis on Mande (or Malinke) music.

He has expanded on his traditional education in pure African percussion by exploring the possibilities arising from collaboration with musicians and artists skilled in both African and Western traditions. A musical activist, he is part of a growing movement of AfroCentric musicians dedicated to diversifying the African musical sensibility.

John Laidler is a guitarist, songwriter and recordist. He is a founding member of Sydney’s Okapi Guitar Band, and has been listening to and playing African music for over 30 years. He operates CutSnake Studio under the flight path in Sydney.

Bembeya Music is incorporated in the state of New South Wales,  and listed on the Register of Cultural Organisations.
ABN: 53 361 269 405

© BMI 2013