Tag Archives: Ivorian music

Artist Profiles: Azouhouni Adou

Azouhouni Adou

Born in the Ivory Coast (West Africa), Azouhouni Adou began his musical career early on accompanying some of most the well-known and respected Ivorian artists, such as Ernesto Djedje and Alpha Blondy. In 1984 he moved to Paris to study jazz composition and improvisation and played keyboard for Afro-pop stars such as Abetti Massekini, Pierre Akendenge, Oumou Sangare, Pascal Lokoua, Tony Allen, Meiway, and Cheb Kaleb.

Since 1992, Azhouhouni has lived in the United States. His US career began in Denver, Colorado, where he continued his band Adu, playing in venues alongside such jazz greats as Tito Puente, John Lee Hooker, Terence Blanchard, Herbie Mann, and Rickie Lee Jones, and played keys with a US-army jazz band touring Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, UAI, and Diego Garcia.

In 1995, Azouhouni moved to New York where he immediately became widely recognized as a leading innovator in the City’s African music culture and beyond. He has performed with The African Blue Note Band, Katende, Worldly Vibe, Atlas Soul, The Soukous Stars, and Source in venues such as the Lincoln Center, Summer Stage, Celebrate Brooklyn?s Prospect Park, SOB’s, the Zinc Bar, Satalla, Joe’s Pub, and Sugar Bar. As Musical Director, Azouhouni spent two years (1998-2000) at Disney’s Animal Kingdom in Orlando, Florida with the Harambe Band, and with the Pepe Kale/Rigo Star Tour in Oakland, California.

An accomplished studio producer and arranger by age twenty, Azouhouni has produced CDs for Ivorian artists such as Adeliz, Dan Log, Bennie Bezy, and Jonny Zoug, and Malian singer Djoss Diabate. He produced and released two albums of his own; Lago (JBZ Studios, 1989) and Worrro (JBZ Studios, 1991) with American singer Heather Maxwell. Afroyorkers was a project with his own ensemble. Afroyorkers presented Azhouhouni’s fresh and sophisticated urban style of original compositions and Afrobeat classics.

Discography:

Lago (JBZ Studios, 1989)
Worrro (JBZ Studios, 1991)
I Gotta Go (Zohoré Records, 2005)
Haklima, with Djoss Diabate (Goin’ Native Records, 2005)

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Artist Profiles: Dobet Gnahoré

Dobet Gnahoré

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.

Discography:

Ano Neko (Contre-Jour, 2004)
Na Afriki (Contre-Jour/Cumbancha, 2007)
Djekpa La You (Contre-Jour, 2010)
Na Drê (Contre-Jour, 2014)
Miziki (Café de la Danse, 2018)

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Zauli Music and Dance Inscribed in 2017 on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity

Zauli dancer with mask from the Maminigui village – Photo by Ala Konin, 2015 – Office Ivoirien du patrimoine culturel (OIPC)

In a December 16, 2017 press release UNESCO announced that Zauli (Zaouli in French) music and dance is inscribed in 2017 on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

Zauli is a traditional music and dance practiced by the Guro communities of the Buafle and Zuenula departments of Ivory Coast. A tribute to feminine splendor, Zauli is inspired by two masks: the Blou and the Djela. In a single event, the participants bring together sculpture (the mask), weaving (the costume), music (the band and song) and dance.

Zauli musicians of Zabrisséhifla – Photo by Ala Konin, 2015 – Office Ivoirien du patrimoine culturel (OIPC)
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Artist Profiles: Sekouba Diakite

Sekouba Diakite originates from Odienne (the Republic of Ivory Coast). Like his elder brother Isaac Ismael, Sekouba also sings in Malinke, Bambara, Diula, English, and French.

Sekouba comes from the neighborhood of Treichville in Abidjan, (known as ‘Treichtown’ to reggae fans). In 1986, Sékouba moved to The Gambia, where he lived until 1993 when he moved back to Abidjan.

After being enriched into the roots of the Bolomba style in The Gambia, the young Sekouba came alive with the West African sounds of the Mandinka.

Sekouba’s desire to sing came naturally but it was never a reality without the musical influence of his brother, Ismael Isaac. Sekouba’s other musical influences include, Lucky Dube, Alpha Blondy, and Bob Marley.

In 1999 he made his debut as an artist, tenaciously composing lyrics as a self-taught author, composer, and performer. His music reflects an eclectic mix of West African melodies, fused with traditional Reggae rhythms.

His debut album “I Love My People” featuring the title track “I’m So Glad,” was self produced in New York and arranged by Oscar Ankou. His second album “Sejou” was releases in June 2010 and features tracks like; “No Doubt,”mixing the styling of soulful Caribbean beats and a cool reggae vibe. “No Doubt” manages to deliver meaningful lyrics in a light-hearted way, echoing the sounds of Bob Marley. “Mandela,” a tribute to the great freedom fighter, Nelson Mandela, with up-tempo exotic beats and rhythms. “Mandela” showcases Sekouba’s rare powerful sound. And “Sejou,” the funky Reggae tune showcasing Sekouba’s African roots.

Sekouba currently resides in New York City, where he often performs at local festivals and clubs. Sekouba’s music seamlessly blends reggae rhythms with African beats and melodies.

Discography:

I Love My People

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