A2VT is a rising Burlington, VT-based world music/Afro pop act that initially featured three African refugees who sing songs written in eight different African languages — Somali-born Said Bulle, Tanzanian-born George Mnyonge and Burundian-born Cadoux Fanoy — who emigrated to Vermont in the early aughts, when the men were teenagers. With the release of “Winooski, my town” off their 2012 Dave Cooper-produced full-length debut Africa, Vermont the trio became regional viral sensations: not only did the act earn a place within the county’s growing refugee community, the song wound up becoming their adopted hometown’s unofficial motto.
Since the release of Africa, Vermont the band went on a hiatus that has seen both personal and personnel changes to the act: Bulle has become a a father of three, who has recognized that he has become something of a role model for his extended family back in Somalia. In press notes, Bulle laughingly explains that his family back home thinks that because he lives in America and can be seen on music videos on YouTube, he must be wealthy. Along with that, the band has continued onward as a duo with Bulle and Mnyonge, who on stage go by Jilib and Pogi respectively. Interestingly, the band’s recently released sophomore album Twenty Infinity finds the act focusing on crafting decidedly upbeat, dance floor friendly material centered around faster tempos and catchier hooks than its predecessor. And as a result, the duo feel that they’re coming into their own artistically and creatively as artists.
“On the first record, I was still like, ‘What are we doing here'” A2VT’s Bulle recalls. Mellow Yellow’s David Cooper, who has been an essential part of the band’s team, acting as their mentor, producer, audio tech and creative consultant adds in press notes “Then, they were novices with a lot of passion and desire and no experience. Now, they’re seasoned professionals. They know exactly what they’re doing.” The duo go on to say that this newfound confidence and self-assuredness comes from the increasing wisdom of age and experience, which has found them proudly accepting their roles as family men and community leaders. As I mentioned earlier, Bulle is a father of three. And interestingly enough, Mnyonge notes a marked change in the attitudes of the area’s local refugee from when he was a teenager, perhaps in part due to the band’s influence. As teenage, he used to frequently fight and get into altercations on his walk home from Winooski High School. “What I’m seeing right now: Nobody’s fighting, and the kids do good in school,” he notes. “And they’re trying to be like me and do music.”
Twenty Infinity’s latest single “You Ma Numba 1” is a breezy and infectious reggae-tinged on Afro pop, centered around a strutting bass line, stuttering beats, an infectious hook, subtle African polythryhm and the duo’s sweet harmonizing. At its core the song is a sweetly endearing, two-step inducing ode to love and to Black women. The world may seem especially bleak it’s still Spring — and as long as there people, people will fall in love.
Directed by Jackson Stone, the recently released video was shot in Vermont and stars Fredrica Appau, Pogi, Meax, Jilib. Mr. Oli, Xclipxe, Lui Lui, King Janja and the Wanjanja Boys (Elia, Omar, Jaden, Janvier) and despite the verdant background, the video is boldly African and features these young and beautiful black people being joyous — and in love.