Grewing up in Derklé , Omar Pene spent his childhood like all other kids living in urban working class districts across Africa: hanging out, playing football, playing music. Derklé 's ancient houses and streets full of ruts were alive with human warmth, with dynamic and inventive young people. When the football matches were over, it was the turn of the local troubadours. People would gather on street corners for the music which would go on late into the night.
The Streets were a way of life for Omar Pene in the early 70s. Then, when is friends began signing up to the local football teams, it was time for Omar to hook up with the local bands. Super Diamono was formed from the merger of 2 major groups from Senegal: the 'Cad Orchestra' led by Cheikh Diagne and Mady Konaté 's 'Tropical Jazz'. This is were Omar Pene started his musical career. First came CAD, with Cheikh Diagne, Bassirou Diagne and Baylo Diagne, an upcoming Dakar act in the early 70's. Pene joined them in 1975 and soon afterwards they amalgated with Tropical Jazz, to form Super Diamono. The group was reshuffled when Baylo Diagne, a well-known guitar player in Senegal took on the leadership. At that time the group also contained the talents of Bob Sene, Pape Bass, Adama Faye and Pape Dieng.
Within a few years the fresh approach and energy which a succession of the new young musical talents brought with them, had transformed the Original band and "Senegals" famous band of talented young street rebels was born. Their regular club, Le Balofon, at No 2, Rue Macadon Ndiaye, which also fostered the talents of Youssou N'Dour and Ismael Lo in their younger days, became the fashionable hang out for the music lovers and club-goers in Dakar. A tour of Casamance and Gambia resulted in an even tighter band. Ismael Lo joined them in 1979, becoming part of an anarchic group spirit which, unique in Senegal, prompted comparisons with Western rock groups.
During the second half of the 80s the group passed a turbulent period with many musicians passing through the band's line-up. Around 1990 Omar Pene took over the captaincy of the group and ushered in a new period of stability and dedication. Since 1991 Super Diamono has operated out of a company, Mediator PLC, which Omar started to put the band on a firmly professional footing.
Omar Pene has now generated his own style of vocal delivery to carry the lyrics of the songs he has written for the band. His beautiful, haunting melodies and the sohisticated arrangements bear witness to the fact that good music is a universal language that draws people together. He now has a very dedicated and expanding following in Senegal and abroad.
The ten most recent years of Omar Pene's career have been marked by 'an opening to the international market' , whose bassist Dembel Diop explains the reason. "The quintessence of Senegalese music is rhythmic. But to open to the international market, you need exotic harmonies to reach a wider audience. Here in Senegal, Pene has nothing to prove. It is a market of less than one million cassette buyers. So we innovated and brought more harmony to reach an international audiance". "This is how the albums Myamba (2005), Ndam (2009) and Ndayaan (2011) have allowed Omar Pene to offer the public a very sparse music", said Babacar Mbaye Diop, noting that the singer "now wants to conquer the international scene", even if since the album People (1984) he was already known in Europe.
These discs cause the departure of the "long time Diamono members" Pape Dembel Diop and Doudou Conaré . The two instrumentalists considered that they were not enough involved to the new direction. Their departure didn't change the attachment and affection that Senegalese fans and music lovers have for Omar Pene and his music. On the contrary, they have never been so strong. This is reflected in the resounding success of his return to the stage in 2014 after a year-long illness.
Born on October 29, 1950 in Bandjoun - Western Cameroon, André Marie Tala lost his mother at the age of four. He is raised by his grandmother, a traditional singing master in Bandjoun. His uncle plays accordion. In the early 1960s, the young Tala joined a Christian school choir led by Canadians. He plays tom-tom. In 1965 his world collapses abruptly. His father dies and André Marie Tala himself becomes blind. The teen makes his own guitar to take care of himself. Despite his disability, he works constantly. Touched by this determination, his uncle Paul Wafo offers him a real guitar. More respite! The youngster plays a total of 18 hours of guitar a day: "I did not sleep very much and I kept going for three years", he remembers. At the age of 17 Tala founded his first band. The Rock Boys, with which he played his first compositions that quickly became a regional success: Although heavily influenced at this time by omnipresent French and American pop / rock sounds, the young artist wrote from the beginning his own texts. These lyrics - with an often deep moral or philosophical message - will become an important hallmark of Tala's music. The group quickly gained some success and began a tour of the Bamileke country and the rest of Cameroon. André Marie Tala is becoming more and more confident and decided to change the name of the group in Les Tigres Noirs ( The Black Tigers). At the same time a talented and promising young guitarist named Sam Fan Thomas joined the band. The latter will later make a successful international solo career with his Makassi rhythm and reached the top of the African charts in the 80s and 90s with a string of danceable hits such as: African Typic Collection, Noa and Mandela.
In October 1972, André Marie Tala flew for the first time to France, where he signed a contract with Decca. On this occasion he starts his first collaboration with Manu Diabango. This meeting marks a turning point in his career. Three 45-rpm singles come from it, including six Tala compositions, arranged by Manu Dibango: Sikati, Forgive Me, Potaksina, Café , Na Mala Ebolo and Bwop.These titles become a great (inter)national success, In particular Na Mala Ebolo becomes a real master stroke with more than 120.000 copies sold in 1973.
1n 1974 Tala composed the soundtrack of the film Pousse-Pousse by cameroonian director Daniel Kamwa and in 1975 he established his fame with the album Hot Koki. This international success will tempt James Brown to plagiarize Hot Koki under the title The Hustle. In 1978, after four years of bitter legal battles, Tala wins the case and James brown is sentenced to pay him back all his rights.
Since his debut he is compared with Stevie Wonder because of their common disability, blindness. But also because both man are excellent musicians and composers, with a strong moral personality who both belong to the top of the black musical culture. At this moment Tala's careers spans almost half a century and his discography counts more than 25 albums.In the early 90s, Tala found again a fertile source of inspiration in traditional Bamileke rhythms. He started to modernize the musical genre Bend Skin, a Bamileke dance until then mainly practised in a tradional cultural surrounding. The research conducted by Tala on the Bend Skin rhythm, is crowned in 1993 by the release of the eponymous album, becomes a huge success in Cameroon and inspires lots of other musicians to further development of a modern Bend Skin style.
In 2012, he began the project of opening a music school in Douala, Cameroon. This ambitious project is one of the dreams of the singer, which he is still actively working to achieve. In 2013 Tala starts the celebration of his 45-year enduring career with a concert in Douala Bercy. On May 17 2015 he gave a memorable show at the Olympia theatre in Paris together with his lifetime musical friend Sam Fan Thomas. In September 2016 he was on tour in the US and Canada.
In 2015 the Parisian / London based new record label Africa Seven, paid tribute to 'Funkateer' André Marie Tala with the release of the album African Funk Experimentals 1975 - 1978. This compilation is not a "best of" Tala, that has already been done in 2009 by the label RetroAfric with the CD Bend Skin Beats. For their compilation Africa Seven mainly made use of the albums Tala made for Fiesta Records from 1973 - 1978.
Born in Léopoldville (now Kinshasa) on the sixth of November 1946, Mayaula passes effortlessly through primary school. In 1962 he completed secondary education at the College of Kisantu. The young Mayaula appears to be a passionate and good football player. Between 1968 and 1971 he plays at a high level as a left winger in the first team of 'AS Vita Club' in Kinshasa. In this period he is also selected for the national team of Zaire.
When his father is stationed as a diplomat in Dar es Salam, Mayaula follows his father to Tanzania and plays some time with 'Yanga Sports'. Then he leaves for Charleroi in Belgium where he follows a course in data processing. In Belgium his talent is also noticed and he plays professional soccer with 'Racing Club de Charleroi' and 'Racing Club de Jette'in Brussels. He also plays for some time in Switzerland with 'FC. Fribourg'. In this period he gets acquainted with the guitar through a study friend. Also musically he shows himself a talented student and soon he joins the Congolese student orchestra 'Africana' as rhythm guitarist.
When he returns to Kinshasa, Mayaula makes a career switch from professional soccer player to professional composer and musician. Back home he immediately draws the attention of his former football president and band leader Franco, who asks Mayaula to join his band and adds his song 'Cherie Bonduwe' to the repertoire of his TPOK Jazz.
The melodic and thematically rich song receives much attention, not in the least because the National Censorship Commission prohibits the song. Cherie Bondowe presented the life of a prostitute from her point of view and is considered by the authorities as a defense of prostitution. The song was first released in Brussels, and rapidly found its way back to Kinshasa, despite the ban by the government.
Although Franco requested him to join TPOK Jazz, Mayaula Mayoni has never been an official band member of the TPOK Jazz. "He was something of an independent oddity in the music business" writes Gary Stewart in 'Rumba on the river'. "He prefered to compose his songs and then offer them to whichever artist he felt they fit. Many of his memorable efforts like 'Nabali misère' and 'Momi' found their way to OK Jazz".
In 1977 it was female singer Mpongo Love who scored with Mayaula's composition 'Nadaya' a song that tells the story of a woman happy in her marriage and confident of keeping her husband, despite the overtures of other women.
Many people mistakenly think that Mayaula was not only a gifted guitarist and composer, but a good singer as well. Although he sometimes acted as background vocalist during recordings and live performances, he has never presented himself as a lead singer. Probably this misconception is caused by a picture on the cover of the album 'Veniuza', on which we find Mayaula behind the microphone.In 1981 Mayaula leaves Zaire together with some musicians from female singer Abeti's band Les Redoutables, to try his luck in West-Africa. In the period between 1981 and 1984 he records several solo LP's in Lomé (Togo) for the record label Disc-Oriënt'. In 1984 he returns to Zaire where he releases the album 'Fiona fiona' in 1986. In the same year female singer Tshala Muana gains success with 'Nasi nabali', a composition written by Mayaula Mayoni. He records his next album 'Mizélé' with the help of musicians of TPOK Jazz and singers Carlito Lassa and Malage de Lugendo.
In 1993 he hits the charts again with the album 'L'amour au kilo'. It then lasts until 2000, before he comes with a new album 'Bikini'. Not long after the release of this album, Mayaula settles again in Dar es Salam, where he accepts a job at the diplomatic service. In the years that followed he began to suffer increasingly the consequences of hemiplegia, a disease that may result in loss of speech and paralysis of linmbs. In 2005 he returns to his place of birth Makadi. As his condition continues to deteriorate his family decides in cooperation with the authorities to bring Mayaula to Brussels for medical treatment. After a long illness of several month's he dies in Brussels on May 26, 2010 at the age of 64 years. During his impressive career, Mayaula Mayoni was repeatedly voted 'composer of the year'in Zaire. In 1978 for the song 'Bonduwe II', in 1979 for 'Nabali misère' and in 1993 for the song 'Ousmane Bakayoko'.
Before a nation can become real, it must first be imagined. It seems appropriate that Super Mama Djombo, the band that became a primary expression of Guinea-Bissau's identity after independence, was born in the fertile imagination of children.
It started at a boy scout camp. Four young friends (the youngest was only six) named Zé Manel, Herculano, Gonçalo and Taborda came together to play and got their first taste of success. Soon they were playing weddings, baptisms and birthday parties around Bissau. Not long after, they voted in a lead guitarist and vocalist Medina. Then came Chico Karuca, first as a singer, later displacing Taborda on bass. This young band was serious, and voted out any members who they thought weren't keeping pace with the group as they became more skilled. Members came and went, though the core group remained the same.
Ever improving their act, the boys decided that they needed a new name. Their original name was long and in Portuguese; they wanted something more beautiful, powerful, and home-grown. The lead singer suggested Mama Djombo, the name of a sovereign and deeply respected female spirit. The group liked it, and from then on they were known as Super Mama Djombo.
It was the perfect choice. Though the group was too young and politically unaware to know it at the time, they were growing up amidst revolution. The revolutionary Party for the Independence of Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde (P.A.I.G.C.) had been engaged in rural mobilization and clandestine urban agitation since 1959. Hidden under the dense forest canopy in the south of the country, guerillas and villagers struggled to set up a revolutionary society. Mama Djombo was the spirit most appealed to for the protection of these independence fighters.
The band grew, and grew up. After Cobiana jazz, the premier band of political resistance emerged in 1970 to mobilize and sensitize an enthousiastic public. The young Super Mama Djombo would play at their shows during intermission. Cobiana, interestingly, is the sacred place of residence of the female spirit Mama Djombo. While at the time Cobiana jazz was more politically committed, both groups had a similar, subversive project: To sing in Kriol and interpret indigenous rhythms in the public space. The colonial administration had all but forbidden both practices.
Independence was won in 1974, and that year brought the final formative elements to the band: freedom, euphoria, and bandleader Atchutchi (Adriano Gomes Ferreira). Atchutchi was a skillful bandleader and composer with a book full of songs waiting to be performed. medina was voted out in favor of Atchutchi and went to form Capa negra, another of the stellar bands from this exciting time.
Atchutchi had been mobilized and politically aware for longer than the other members, and his contribution completed the project. The band would become politically charged. It would imagine a new, unified national identity that was neither Portuguese nor divided by indigenous ethnicity. It would help re-invent Kriol, the synthesis of Portuguese and African languages spoken in the cities, that the revolution had transformed into a common language of national unity.
After Atchutchi's arrival, they added among others the fantastic lead guitarists Joã Mota and Tundu, rhythm guitarist Miguelinho; vocalists malam, Dulece and N'Tchoba; and percussionists Armando and Joãozinho. it truly became The Orchestra Super Mama Djomba.
The success of the new orchestra was almost immediate. They toured Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde playing to ecstatic crowds. Their live concerts were broadcast religiously on the national radio. The band traveled regularly with first president Luís Cabral, representing the new national identity in Angola, Mozambique, Cape Verde, and Portugal. The orchestra traveled to Cuba, to mark Guinea-Bissau identity "present" at the 11th Youth Festival in Havana. They outshined the other groups from Africa, and appeared on Cuban national television. At home, the band continued to reflect the people back to themselves.
Delegades of Guinea-Bissau & the Netherlands
The people of Havana welcome their international guests
The opening ceremony of the 11th Youth Festival
João Moto & Tundu during a live performance in Cuba 1978
In early 1980, the group went for its only recording sessions at Valentim De carvalho Studios in Lisbon. in those sessions they recorded straight through over six housr of tape and were still far from exhausting their repetoire. This was a band that only played live for years in constant dialoque with their public and virtually all the members were composers. Five albums from these sessions made it to vinyl: 'Na Cambança' (SMD 001) and 'Festival' (SMD 002) came out in 1980 on the Cobiana recordlabel. The albums 'Sol maior para comandante'(SMD 003), 'Mandjuana' (SMD 004) and 'À memória de N'Famara Mané'(SMD 005), were released in 1983 by the Sovjet record label Melodia from Leningrad (now St. Petersburg).
The first album to be released was 'Na Cambança'. By the time it appears, people at home in Guinea-Bissau already knew the songs by heart, but thisr release on LP extended the reach of the band and opened new opportunities-particularly the track "Pamparida." Adapted from a children's play song, this infectious track made the band a West African sensation. DJs would often make sure they had two copies of the album, so they could play the song over and over without stopping. It is said that when "Pamparida" came on the radio during lunch, people would get up and dance the song, then return to their meal. It was "Pamparida" that filled a stadium in Senegal to capacity, where a then-unknown Youssou N'Dour opened for the orchestra. When the music started, the crowds outside literally broke down the doors to hear them play. Video: Pamparido (live in 2010) It seemed like an ascendancy that would never end-and it certainly could have continued. The offers poured in: an African tour, more European tours, album deals. But these offers brought new pressures. This was a revolutionary band committed to imagining and building the nation through song. Atchutchi was opposed to the deals, and at the time most of the band agreed with him. Who was going to tell President Cabral that the national, revolutionary band was now run by capitalists from the Gambia, Senegal, France, or (of all places) Portugal? Nobody had the heart. Audio: Sol maior para commandante
Amilcar Cabral on the inside of the album 'Sol maior para commandante'
In November 1980 Cabral was deposed, and political repression intensified. Even before the coup, the band's music had begun to point out corruption and power struggles emerging in the government. Significant tracks in that vein on this collection include "Ordem do dia" and "Suur di no pubis." The new regime wasn't interested in supporting art-particularly art that was critical of the state-like the Cabral government had, and opportunities at home began to dry up. That was the beginning of the end. Zé manel was the first to go. In 1982 he released a scathingly critical solo album and under the new regime his friends and family became concerned for his safety. The next year he left to study at a Portuguese conservatory. The band became devided. many members decided to fare on without the leadership of Atchutchi, but something was missing. By 1986 the Orchestra Super Mama Djombo was done.
The name resurfaced in 1992, when Atchutchi recorded the soundtrack of the Flora Gomes film 'The blue eyes of Yonta'. The songs were early Mama Djombo compositions, but at that time only a few of the original members were in the revived band. For many years the music of Super Mama Djombo remained very hard to find. Finally in 1999 the Teca Balafon record label celebrated the 25th anniversary of the birth of Super Mama Djombo with the CD release of the classic albums 'Na cambanca', 'Festival' and 'Sol maior para comandante'. Together with the release of these classic albums the band came with a new cd; 'Homenagem a José Carlos Schwarz', a tribute to the legendary poet and founder of Cobiana Jazz, who died at the age of 27 in a plane crash near Havana.
In 2003 Cobiana Records released an outstanding compilation of the early Super Mama Djomba material. All these years the dream of reuniting the old Super Mama Djombo has persisited. Finally this dream came through in 2008, when five members of the old band came reunited in a recording studio in Iceland, together with eight other Guinean musicians. The new album 'Ar puro' (Fresh air) contains eleven new songs. After the release of the album the band toured in Europe and Africa.
Meiway is nicknamed "Professör Awolowoh" father of "Zoblazo", the dance with the handkerchiefs, a musical style that Meiway invented, inspired by the folk rhythms of the Akan. Meiway by his real name Ehui Désiré Frédéric, an Ivorian singer, songwriter and composer, was born on March 17 1962 of parents from Grand-Bassam, the main city of the kingdom of "N'zima Kotoko". He enjoyed his first hours of glory as musician in 1991 with his second album "200% Zoblazo". His father, a commercial agent in a local company, is an amateur accordeonist. His mother and his sisters sing in the Sainte Jeanne d'Arc Choir of the Catholic parish of Treichville in Abidjan. Naturally Frédéric makes his first steps in music by accompannying his parents during the mass. He begins his apprenticeship with traditional percussion, drums, bass guitar and vocals. During his Highschool years in Abidjan around 1978 he joined his first group "Pace". In 1981 he creates his first own band "les Génitaux".They had some local success after they won the prize for "best amateur group" of Ivorian television.
In 1985 he decides to seek the adventure in Paris to develop his career and deepen his musical knowledge. Soon enough he set up a new group, “Défense d'Ivoire", with African, Algerian and French musicians. They won the price of the Paris club Excalibur and make a small career in the French capital. To make ends meet, Meiway takes several jobs and finally works in a gas station where he becomes co-manager. His greater resources allow him to apply for a bank loan to finance his very first album "Ayibebou" which was released in 1989. The immediate success in all of Francophone Africa, allows Meiway to return to Ivory Coast as a star. In 1990 this first album brought him the title of "best singer of Ivory Coast". In this album, we hear the beginnings of "Zoblazo", a new music style created by Meiway. Mixing different folklore from Southern Ivory Coast, the Zoblazo is a dance music based on traditional percussion of his ethnic group "N'zima" - commonly called "Appolo"- and embellished by a modern orchestration (drums, guitars, keyboards, brass, violins etc...). Zoblazo is also inspired by several other Ivorian music styles as well as by Ghanaian High-Life and Makossa from Cameroon. This new, global oriented and catchy music is danced with a white handkerchief as a sign of joy, purity and peace.
With his second album in 1991 "200% Zoblazo", the style of the same name gets its definite shape. Meiway becomes a superstar. He is awarded as the best variety artist at the first edition of the "African Music Awards"... This year he tours, in addition to Africa , also in Europe and Canada and releases from now on at least every two years a new album.
In 1993, he released the album "Jamais 203". At that time, Meiway created his fan club, his own management and his career is now marching as a well oiled machine. Beside reggae star Alpha Blondy, Meiway is now by far the most prominent performing artist in Ivory Coast. "Jamais 203" was followed in 1995 by "Appolo 95", a title inspired by the name of his ethnicity. On the album we find many guests including Guadeloupean Jacob Desvarieux of Kassav and King Mensah. The release of Appolo is followed in May 96 by a long African tour. On June 21st, he took part in the Music Festival in Paris, followed by an American tour in July. In the last quarter of the same year, he received the award for the best sub-regional artist at the first African Music Award in Johannesburg, South Africa. "Les génies vous parlent" comes out in 1997. This time he incorporates for the first time a brass section in his music and the album becomes one of his most awarded records. "Hold Up" released in 1998, is the first album of Meiway's orchestra the "Zo Gang". This very varied album, highlights the pillars of this orchestra, Briscard Kouadio, Donguy, N'toumba Minka, Jean Paul Melindji and Ernest Mvouama.
Surrounded by - among others - Manu Dibango, Jacob Desvarieux and Jean Claude Naimro of Kassav, Meiway celebrates his 10-year career in 1999 with the album "Extraterrestre". Shortly after the release of "Extraterrestre", followed also a second album of the Zo Gang, titled "Le proces". In 2001 he scores a tremendous hit with "Miss Lolo", a track from the album "Eternel".
It is not a surprise that Meiway's eigth album "Golgotha" kicks of with the pure Zoblazo track "800% Zoblazo. But surrounded by prestigious guests, such as Lokua Kanza, Kojo Antwi and Koffi Ollomide he also explores several styles and also flirts with fashionables dances like the Prudencia and Coupé Décalé. On stage Meiway is more than ever present with "The Zo Gang" and he remains a major attraction in the African showbizz. With a little lower frequency than the past years but still in a steady pace, the Ivorian releases new albums. It is in December 2006, that " 9ème Commandement" is launched. On this album Christian Meiway refers his commitment to spirituality, peace and the fight against AIDS. However, he does not forget the dance floor and as ususal he presents us some irresistable dance tracks, like the tribute to the woman "Emeraude", and the even hotter duet with rapper Alibi Montana "Feu de camp", a funny evocation of a reality TV show. Quite unususal for Meiway this album also contains a pure Zouk Love track, the seductive "Zouk interdit".
On the occasion of the celebration of his 20 years of successful career, Meiway released his 10th album "M20" with a variety of sounds and music. This album saw the participation of the Franco-Congolese rapper Passi on the track "Dedans" and Lynnsha on "Mami".
At a time when Ivory Coast seems to be embarking on the path of peace after an unprecedented political crisis, Meiway returns in 2012 with "Professeur" his 11th album that contains 15 new songs with incandescent rhythms, including 2 duets with Black Kent and Soum Bill.
His most recent album "Illimitic" was released in 2016. This time no guest appearences by fellow singers but a composition by a fellow artist. As a musical homage to Deza XXL, the singer, gitarist and musical brother who died in 2005, Meiway recorded a cover of Deza XXL's song "No". And in the last song of the album, the ballad "Bye, bye", he remembers some fellow singers who died recently such as Lapiro de Mbanga (2014), Guy Lobé (2015) and Papa Wemba (2016).
His real name Namwisi Ngoy, alias Reddy Amisi said Bailo Canto, was born May 5, 1960 in Kinshasa in a family of eight children. He is married and father of four children.
Reddy Amisi debuted in 1975 as a singer in the group Chem Chem Yetu. The following year he accepted a role as choirboy in the group Sambole Master Ngombe. Then he moves successively in three groups of young people: Juvenil (1977), Likamuisi (1978) and No Lingwala (1980). In the latter group, Reddy Amisi met Koffi Olomide, who intruduced him to Papa Wemba. Wemba was so impressed by his skills as singer and performer that he invited him to join his band Viva la Musica.
There he develops quickly and becomes known with hits like "Kotida" (1983) and "Lize Paradis" (1985).
In 1986 he accompanied Papa Wemba on his first major tour to Japan and his first solo LP appears in 1987 with Viva la Musica as backing band.
In 1989 Papa Wemba started to promote his global career as singer. Alongside Viva la Musica he starts with the band Molokai International. Reddy is one of the few Zaireans included in Wemba's international lineup.
In 1990 his second solo album "Queen Lina" appeared, again backed by Viva la Musica. When in 1992 a large part of the band broke with Viva la Musica due to dissatisfaction with Wemba's leadership - and formed the Nouvelle Generation de la Republique Democratique - Reddy Amisi remained faithful to Wemba. But since that moment he focussed more attention to the development of his own solo career. From 1993 he released several solo albums under his own name although it remains the "Viva la Musica" influence looms large.
Although their relation stays well, in 1999 he breaks with Papa Wemba and records a joint CD in Paris with former Viva co-vocalist Stino Mubi.
After the recordings were finshed Reddy Amisi went back to Kinshasa and in December of that same year he presented his own orchestra La Casa do Canto for the first time at the Congo Fair of the Grand Hotel Kinshasa. The recruitment for the new orchestra took place in Bandalungwa commune where he chooses to set up his headquarters. He creates his own new sound with "Compteur a Zero", his first album with La Casa do Canto in 2003. The album was well received by the Kinois-public and was followed in 2006 by the album "Ligne Droite", a live CD/DVD in 2009 and the superb "Likelemba" in 2010.
After the death of Papa Wemba in 2017, there was some speculation in the Congolese media about a possible merger between La casa do Canto and Viva la Musica in order to immortalize the famous Papa Wemba. Answering Naty Lokole's (Digital Congo, August 20, 2017) question about this probable fusion Amisi answered (..) I don't want to dwell on this issue and concentrate on writing songs for my new album (..). Hopefully this proces goes smoothly and will their soon appear a new Reddy Amisi album on the market. His fans are looking forward to it !
Ernest Djédjé Blé Loué was born in 1947 in Béte country Ivory Coast in the village Tahiraguhé near the town Daloa. Djédjé's father was a Senegalese Wolof man, but his mother came from the Bété people who surrounded him in his village Daloa.
Together with his friend Mamadou Kante, Ernesto Djédjé founded in 1963 his first band called 'The Antelopes'. The band gave concerts in Dalao and throughout the western Ivory Coast. In 1965 Amédée Pierre recognized the talent of Mamadou and Ernesto and recruited the two teenagers in his band 'Ivoiro Star', the leading Dopé band of the time. Mamadou became bass player and Ernesto guitarist. From 1965 to 1968 Ernesto Djédjé was also the conductor of the Ivoiro Star Band.
Paris 1968 - 1973
In 1968 he decides to emigrate to Paris to study computer science. He became one of the few immigrants in France in the 1960's. In France he met several African music celebrities such as Manu Dibango, Anouma Brou Felix and Francis Lougah. With their cooperation, inculding that of Manu Dibango, he recorded his first record entitled Anowa in 1970. it was a 45prm single, strongly influenced by American Soul and Rhythm & Blues. Another 45rpm single, Gniah-Pagnou followed within a year. In 1971 he released two more 45rpm singles N'wawuile and Lourognon gbla with 'l'Orchestre Reeba'. After this four records, released on the Philips record label, he records two more 45rpm singles in 1973, Mahoro and Zokou gbeuly on the Fiesta record label. Shortly after he decides to return to Ivory Coast.
A period of musical research 1973 - 1976
Back in Ivory Coast Ernest begins his efforts to modernize the Ivorian music. He wants to revolutionize the Ivorian music by mixing elemets of Western Disco, Funk, Cuban Rumba and Central African pop music like Makossa with traditional Ivorian music. When travelling to Nigeria, he discovers the Afrobeat of Fela Anikulapo Kuti, a mix of tradional Yoruba Rhythms, Funk, Jazz and Highlife. A musical style that sticks to his desires. Finally he feels capable to combine dance and disco Bété, with lyrical songs 'Tohourou', Rhythm & Blues and his own locally-based guitar style. In this period he released Aguisse, on the record label of Gbadamassi Raimi, aka Badmos. He calls the result of his experiments 'Ziglibithy', the music which soon will bring him fame in Ivory Coast and later throughout West Africa.
The National Gnoantré 1977 - 1983
During 1977 he spent six months in Lagos, Nigeria to record his first LP Ziboté in cooperation with Badmos, founder of Badmos Store and the Maikana record label. The album became an instant hit in Ivory Coast and the rest of West Africa. Djedjé was devoted 'best musician of the year' and his band which consisted of Diabo Steck, Bamba Yang, Lén Sina, Eugène Gba, Yodé, Tagus, Assalé Best and Abu Yubla, became famous by their exciting stage performances. With his second LP Ziglibithiens, which came out in 1978, Djedjé reached the top of his fame. He is discribed as 'Gnoantré National', the man with whom a nation fight, because 'Gnoantré' means struggle/fight in the Béte language. Filosophy professor Yacouba Konaté said the following about Ernesto Djedjé and his Ziglibithy music: "Better than any theory of authenticity, better than any speech advocating a return to sources, Ziglibithy gives meaning and shape to the will of Africans who want to feed on the sap of their roots. It's an action, a recreation that a new aesthetic based on the cultural and historical base of Ivorian society". He becomes the icon of a generation in search of a new identity, modernizing culture of Western influence while tapping into Ivorian culture.
♫ Clip live Aguisse ♫ Clip live Ziglibithiens ♫ Audio Golozo Ziglibithiens is followed by the albums Golozo (1979, Azonadé in (1980) and Zouzoupalé (1981). and Tizéré (1982). The artist finished his career with the album Tizeré including a song in tribute to the politician Konan Bedie in 1982 and another, dedicated to President Felix Houphouet-Boigny Houphouët-Boigny called Zeguehi. At that time Ernesto Djedje - close to the single ruling party, the PDCI-RDA - was the "darling" of President Felix Houphouet-Boigny and Bédié. No conference or reception of presidential importance was organized without a performance of "national Gnoantré". He was often invited to perform with the orchestra of the Ivorian Radio and Television. He then made the heyday of Radio Côte d'Ivoire, including after his sudden death in June 1983 in Yamoussoukro.
Death: mysterious disappearanceErnesto Djedje died suddenly June 9, 1983 at the military hospital in Yamoussoukro at the age of 35 years. His death constituted a shock to the Ivorian nation. Officially, the artist died subsequent to poisoning after his return travel from Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso during a meal at Yamoussoukro. To date, no survey result is available. Several assumptions and rumors circulated about his death, rumors by the press obligingly ivoirienne On July 30, 1983 his body was displayed at the Stade de Tahiraguhé. His funeral will take several days with the delivery of several artists including Alpha Blondy. (Main resource: Wikipedia)
From left to right: Tommy King, Nana Afful, Cropper (sitting), Arthur Kennedy, George Quansah, Eric Agyeman, JW Thorty, AB Crentsil, John Koko, Ekow Tuyee, Kelly Koomson, Tony Mensah.
The Sweet Talks were more than just a band, they were an institution, a training-ground for Ghanaian highlifers. The name has been imitated, taken in vain, stolen; there have been Sweet Beans and Talkative Sweets, but there was only one - or at the most, two - Sweet Talks.
The band was formed in late 1973, and shortly afterwards took up an extended residency at the Talk Of The Town Hotel in Tema. The key founder members were Pope Flynn and A.B.Crentsil (vocals) and Smart Nkansah (guitar). In the next few years, other major talents would join, including vocalist Jewel Ackah and guitarist Eric Agyeman. The band's early music had two distinct styles. One was a throwback to colonial days, with the band playing cover versions of European and North American chart hits, sung by Flynn. The other was Ghanaian cultural music, sung by Crentsil in a uniquely husky, red-blooded voice.
Born in the Western region, Crentsil had spent his early years listening to such roots styles as osode and palm wine. He worked as a railwayman, singing part-time with local bands such as the Eldoradoes and the Medican Lantics. He first met Nkansah when the latter was touring with Yamoah's Guitar Band in 1972; the two became friends and, recruiting Flynn, decided to form the Sweet Talks.
The group's first hit was the single "Adam And Eve" in 1975, which was followed by the successful album The Kusum Beat in 1976, an update of northern Ghanaian traditional music based around percussion and xylophones. In 1977, the band repeated this success with Spiritual Ghana, this time based on osode highlife rhythms. In 1979, when the band were about to set off on a tour of the USA, Nkansah left, to be replaced by another of Ghana's leading roots guitarists, Eric Agyeman, previously a member of Dr. K. Gyasi's Noble Kings. He had started his career in 1963, playing Beatles and Rolling Stones covers in Afro Boateng's Midnight Movers, and had joined Gyasi in 1972, combining the roles of lead guitarist and arranger.
The new Sweet Talks line-up spent autumn 1979 in the USA, recording Hollywood Highlife Party with Wayne Henderson of the Crusaders (for whom they also recorded album backing tracks) and Sweet Talks. Deeply unhappy with the Californian winter, they then returned to Ghana, where they had a dispute with their manager and disbanded. Agyeman and Crentsil formed Super Brain, which lasted only a short time. Agyeman then returned to Gyasi and later went solo.
Crentsil picked up the pieces with a new line-up, Super Sweet Talks International, and released The Lord's Prayer, which included "Area Special", a hymn of praise to palm wine drinking. He then took the band to the Ivory Coast, where they recorded Tantie Alaba, which included another drinking classic in "Akpetchi Seller" (akpetchi being a form of Ghanaian gin).
In 1984, Crentsil moved temporarily to the UK, where - together with Agyeman, also visiting - he fronted a band put together by Mac Tontoh of Osibisa, which recorded Highlife Stars, released on Osibisa's own Flying Elephant label. Tontoh, Crentsil and Agyeman had hoped that Highlife Stars - also the name of the band which recorded it and gigged behind it - would make a major impact in the UK, then in the throes of a substantial explosion of interest in African music. But while the album made a huge impact on specialist audiences it failed to make any mainstream impression.
Crentsil and Agyeman accordingly returned to Ghana towards the end of 1984, Crentsil to form Ahenfo and Agyeman to form Kokroko. By this time, Ackah had formed a second, short-lived incarnation of the Sweet Talks, based in the Ivory Coast. The most successful ex-original Sweet Talks member was Nkansah who, following his departure from the band in 1979, formed the popular, highlife-based Sunsum Band, and enjoyed two top-selling albums with Disco Spiritual (1981) and the rootsier Odo (1985).
Since Günther Gretz of the Popular African Music label released Hollywood Highlife Party on CD in 1991, several of the (Super) Sweet Talks albums have been re-released. However, this does not apply to the four 'LPs that Crentsil made between 1979 and 1983,under the name "Super Sweet Talks International." You can hear below that these albums also contain irrisistible danceable Highlife. Enjoy yourself !!!
Kwasi Frimpong (Kumasi 1939) started his musical career in the ‘50s as lead vocalist with the Axim Jokers. In 1963 he joined Dr. Gyasi’s Noble Kings as solo guitarist. Six years later he formed his own band, The Cubano Fiestas. In 1975 he released his first album Ahyewa backed by the Super Complex Sounds.
In 1978 he recorded Aboagyewaa, an album that is today one of the most sought after collectors items, when it comes to African music. ♫1978 Aboagyewaa
During the ‘80s the music culture of Ghana collapsed completely due tot the military coup led by Jerry Rawlings in 1979. As a result of the anti-corruption “house-cleaning” policy of the military gouvernment and very strict curfews, many local record stores, bars and venues closed. Many ghanian musicians left Ghana for Europe and tried their luck in countries such as Holland, the UK and particulary Germany. After having rerecorded some of his greatest hits for Polydor in 1980, ♫1980 Me Yee Owu Den Frimpong left Ghana in 1981 as well to record his sixth album Abraboin Hamburg, Germany. ♫1981 Abrabo
During the following years his musical productivity gradually decreased. His fans had to wait four years until 1985 before he released the album Mo tan me.
Five years later Frimpong released his first CD under the title Okwantuni. This album would prove to be his last album. Kwesi Frimpong died on October 18th 2005 in Kumasi. With his death Ghana lost one of his greatest musical legends.
In the beginning of the new millennium some dj’s rediscovered the almost forgotten ‘funky’ music scene that existed in many African countries during the 70’s. This interest brought us also a revival of Frimpongs music. In 2001 Kyenkyen bi adi m’awi appeared on the sampler Afro-Rock, followed by Hwehwe mu na yi wo mpena and Aboagyewaa on the two Ghana Soundz samplers in 2002 en 2004. The resurgence of vinyl brought us the reissue of the 'blue' and 'black' album in 2011 by Continental Records. Hopefully Continental Records will surprise us a third time with the reissue of the 'Red' album.
Sékouba ‘Bambino’ Diabate (1964) was born in Kintiya, a village 25 km from Siguiri (North-East Guinea) not far from the border with Mali. His mother Mariama Samoura was a famous singer (griot) who died when Sékouba was only 3 years old. Raised by his grandmother the young boy started singing in local bands around 1972. In 1980 president Touré asked ‘the boy from Siguiri’ to replace Bembeya Jazz lead singer Aboubakar Demba Camara who died after a car accident in 1973.
Sékouba Bambino stayed with Bembeya Jazz until 1989. In 1990 he released his first album - the K7 ‘Sama’ – followed by ‘Le destin’in 1992, which sales reached 160.000 copies within 3 months in Guinea, Mali. Ivory Coast and Senegal alone. After several local K7’s, Sékouba’s first international album - the CD ‘Kassa’– was released in 1997on the British Sterns label. His international breakthrough came with the release of the album ‘Sinikan’in 2002. Sékouba Bambino also participated in several projects founded by the late Senegalese producer Ibrahima Sylla, such as the Mandekalou recordings and the Panafrican salsa band Africando. In 2012 he celebrated the 20th anniversary of his solo career with the release of 2 CD’s, the semi-accoustic and neo-traditional ‘Diatiguyw’ and the modern, danceable ‘Innovation’.