Dobet Gnahoré is a singer, dancer and percussion’s from Africa’s Ivory Coast. She not only possesses a incredible voice but she also has a commanding presence on stage. Gnahoré inherited all the power of the bete traditions from her father Boni Gnahoré, a master percussionist who plays with the Abidjan-based Ki-Yi Mbock Company, directed by Werewere Liking.
It was within this Ivory Coast-based company that Dobet met French guitarist Colin Laroche de Feline, who went there to immerse himself in African melodies and rhythms, after being introduced to them by Toroma Sika in France.
Having spent some time in the well-known TchéTché dance company, Dobet decided with Colin (in 1999) to form a duo, Ano Neko, which means “Let’s create together” in Bete language. The duo toured widely in France (1999-2000) where they settled temporarily following the instability that unfortunately struck the Ivory Coast. They also worked together on different projects (the creation with Ba Cissoko of Le Cabaret Nomade and L’Entre Deux Monde).
When they returned to Abidjan in 2001, they took part in MASA Off (festival) where they were the center of attention and, while they were there, they recorded eight songs under the supervision of the late Marcellin Yac?, who was killed during the first day of rioting in the autumn of 2002. They then decided to return to France, at least until peace and stability reigned in their beautiful country once again.
In 2003, their artistic project refocused on Dobet Gnahoré and expanded when a backup vocalist and a percussionist joined them.
This was when Belgian management agency Contre Jour, which had taken Dobet’s destiny in hand, produced her first album entitled Ano Neko, making the link with Dobet and Colin’s story. This CD comprises songs recorded in Abidjan and others recorded in Belgium during the summer of 2003. The album includes Manding melodies, Congolese rumba, Ivory Coast Ziglibiti, Cameroon Bikutsi, Ghanaian High-Life and Zulu choirs. Gnahore’s album is a mix of African folk traditions with modern sounds reminiscent of the work of Zap Mama and Sally Nyolo and features songs in French, Bete, Fon, Baule, Lingala and Malinke. The sanza, the balafon, the calabash and bongos were brought in to support the guitar, the vocal backup and Dobet’s warm and powerful voice.
Author: Angel Romero
Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music music for many years. He founded the websites worldmusiccentral.org and musicasdelmundo.com. Angel produced several TV 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 albums, compilations and boxed sets for Alula Records, Ellipsis Arts, Music of the World.