The Queen of Kuduro's Journey from the Streets to the Stage




Pongo is known for her high-octane dance music, frenetic choreography, and over-the-top outfits. Her music is a celebration of life, filled with gratitude not just for good times, but for the hardships and heartbreaks that shaped her. Her new album "Sakidila"—which means "thank you" in Kimbundu, the language she grew up speaking—reflects this sentiment.

In 2008, at just 15, Pongo provided vocals for the track “Kalemba (Wegue Wegue)” by Portuguese dance music collective Buraka Som Sistema. After touring with them for two years, she left the band and eventually quit music altogether. It wasn’t until she was in her mid-20s and working as a cleaner that she decided to reenter the music game. In 2019, she released her first album, “Baia,” which acted as a statement of intent. “I came to take kuduro off the streets and take it to another level,” she sings on the title track.

Current Work and Future Plans

Today, Pongo continues to make music and perform, sharing her talent and passion with audiences. Her performances are full-blown musical riots that keep crowds bouncing in exhilaration. Her style, both in music and fashion, is a testament to her creativity and resourcefulness. She's a keen second-hand shopper and regularly spends hours going through the racks at the vintage stores near her home in Lisbon.

Pongo's style is not just about the look: “I’ll always try out all my moves in the clothes before I perform. I need to be able to do a lot of jumping and be sure nothing’s going to rip while I’m dancing,” she says. Her outfits are a way of projecting her vibe to the audience, making her feel prepared and confident.

Born Engracia Domingos da Silva in Luanda, Angola, Pongo is an Angolan-Portuguese performer who has made a name for herself as the reigning Queen of Kuduro. Her stage name is an homage to M’Pongo Love, a trailblazing Congolese musician who celebrated African women through her lyrics. Pongo’s journey into music began at the age of 12 when she encountered the dance group Denon Squad performing in the streets of nearby Queluz, Portugal. She joined the group as a dancer and later started rapping, a talent she initially hid from her father who disapproved of her involvement in the scene.