Manu Chao

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Manu Chao (born José-Manuel Thomas Arthur Chao on June 21, 1961), is a French singer of Spanish origin (Basque and Galician). He sings in French, Spanish, English, Galician, Arabic and Portuguese and occasionally in other languages. Chao began his musical career in Paris, busking and playing with groups such as Hot Pants and Los Carayos, which combined a variety of languages and musical styles. With friends and his brother Antoine Chao, he founded the band Mano Negra in 1987, achieving considerable success, particularly in Europe. He became a solo artist after its breakup in 1995, and since then tours regularly with his live band, Radio Bemba.


Early life

Chao was born in Paris, France, to Spanish parents. His mother, Felisa Ortega, is from Bilbao, Basque country and his father, writer and journalist Ramón Chao, is from Vilalba, Galicia. They emigrated to Paris to avoid Francisco Franco's dictatorship —Manu's grandfather had been sentenced to death.[1] Shortly after Manu's birth, the Chao family moved to the outlying suburbs of Paris, and Manu spent most of his childhood in Boulogne-Billancourt and Sèvres. As he grew up he was surrounded by many artists and intellectuals, most of whom were acquaintances of his father.[2] Chao cites much of his childhood experience as inspiration for some songs.[3]

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