Artist Profiles: Gnonnas Pedro

Gnonnas Pedro
Gnonnas Pedro

Gnonnan Sossou Pierre Kouassivi, better known as Gnonnas Pedro, was a singer-songwriter, salsero and musician born in Lokossa, Benin.

Gnonnas Pedro had always excelled in many styles of music but if one had to associate him with a particular genre it would be Agbadja. Agbadja is a rhythm hugely popular in Togo, Benin and Ghana, and is used mainly during burial ceremonies. It is based on three percussions, each one of them with a different tone.

Agbadja was born in and dominates a region called Le Mono in the center of Benin and also the birthplace of Gnonnas Pedro. Gnonnas adopted and modernized the rhythm in the mid-1960s calling it “Agbadja Moderne”. It became his trademark and he was soon dubbed “Le Roi du Rhythme Agbadja.” In addition to Agbadja, he also played highlife and juju.

Pedro led his own bands Pedro y sus Panchos, later reforming as Gnonnas Pedro and his Dadjes Band, before joining the long-lived Orchestre Poly-rythmo de Cotonou. He sang in many different languages, including Minad, Adja, Yoruba, French, English, and Spanish.

Gnonnas Pedro became well-known internationally as the lead singer of Africando between 1995 and 2004.

Gnonnas Pedro died August 12, 2004 in a hospital in Cotonu, Benin.

Discography

Dadjes: The Band Of Africa (1975)
Gnonnas Pedro (Disco Stock, 1979)
El Cochechivo (Ledoux, 1981)
Gombo Salsa, with Africando (Stern’s Africa STCD1071, 1996)
Baloba, with Africando (Stern’s Africa STCD1082, 1998)
Agbadja (Syllart, 1999)
Irma koi (Syllart, 1999)
Mandali, with Africando (Stern’s Africa STCD1092, 2000)
Live!, with Africando (Sono CDS8907, double CD, 2001)
Martina, with Africando (Stern’s Africa STCD1096, 2003)
The best of Gnonnas Pedro (2003)
Ketukuba, with Africando (Stern’s Africa STCD1103, 2006)

Author: Angel Romero

Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music and progressive music for many years. He founded the websites worldmusiccentral.org and musicasdelmundo.com. Angel produced several specials for Metropolis (TVE) and co-produced “Musica NA”, a music show for Televisión Española (TVE) in Spain that featured an eclectic mix of world music, fusion, electronica, new age and contemporary classical music. Angel also produced and remastered world music and electronic music albums, compilations and boxed sets for Alula Records, Ellipsis Arts, Music of the World, Lektronic Soundscapes, and Mindchild Records. Angel is currently based in Durham, North Carolina.

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