She won a Grammy Award in 2010, the prestigious American musical award, but the singer, dancer and Ivorian percussionist Dobet Gnahore, including author of Palea, remains an illustrious unknown in Ivory Coast.
“I dreamed of coming to play in Ivory Coast! “She told AFP. Dobet Gnahoré lives in France for 20 years and does not hide his joy of a return to his native country to become known through cultural projects.
The artist with dreadlocks and extravagant Nefertiti make-up, leather knee and all dressed black, returned to the country in February for a promotional tour of his latest album, called Afro Electro Moziki and for a unique concert at the French Institute of Abidjan, which has been a great success.
A true stage beast, this thirty-year-old deploys his agility through dance as well as his stamina on the boards. She goes so far as to modulate her sweet voice to imitate the sound of the Pygmies of Central Africa, as in the title Youkouli, on his last album.
“Dobet Gnaoré has talent […], but he is not perceived as such in his own country. It’s time for Côte d’Ivoire to know what it’s really worth, “says Salif Traoré, aka A’Salfo, leader of the Ivorian band Magic System, whose production structure (Gaou Productions) organized the arrival of the percussionist at Abidjan.
The young woman did not hide her joy. “It’s really a pleasure to play in Abidjan at home! To show Ivorians, to my family, how I fight to […] talk about our culture, be it Ivorian or African “. “I want to play more in Ivory Coast,” she says.
“Compassion, love, peace, education” are the themes of her latest album, which she describes as “more personal”.
Pan-African and electro
His stay in France has rubbed off on his musical genre, with a background of acoustics.
“I have influences that come from Europe, the electro side, with my last album”, but in “my first four albums, it’s Pan-African in front”.
“Completely open to all styles of music”, she wants to “swim in the afropop-electro style”, can get up one morning by imagining an air with reggae accents and the next morning “a song that has nothing to do”, summarizes the one who sings in Bete, Dioula or in a mixture of French and Ivorian language.
“I grew up in a pan-African village … where I learned percussion, dance, drama, music and singing in different African languages”. “I like being free, I do not like being tagged,” says the artist, a mother of two.
Good blood can not lie, says the proverb: Dobet is the eldest daughter of Boni Gnahore, master percussionist of the theater company Ki Yi M’Bock of Abidjan-led by the writer, playwright and choreographer Werewere Liking-and grew up with music since a young age.
“Werewere Liking is a special woman who has always inspired me. I am a child of Werewere, all that I do, it is she who gave me the base “, says the artist who was admitted into the company at the age of 9 years.
His two mentors are full of praise for his career.
“I’m proud of her. Gamine, I had encouraged her when she wanted to embrace this career, while her parents opposed it, “said Werewere Liking, majestic diva with her cane in her hand.
“My compass and my therapy”
Boni Gnahoré testifies to the musical vocation of her daughter: “When she saw us playing in the village, she cried. She dropped out of school to enter this school of life. ”
Dobet Gnahoré believes that before discovering music, she was “nothing”. “Music is my compass and my lifeline. It allows me to live, already. To evacuate too is a therapy. It allows me to sing, cry, laugh and share with the audience … ”
Musical specialists highlight the success of its musical synthesis. “Dobet is a talented artist who has bridged the gap between traditional music and modern music, including techno. It’s a model for young people who want to get into the music, “says Xavier Effoue, a specialist in Ivorian music.
Dobet Gnahore is considering a series of projects in Ivory Coast to inspire young artists to explore other styles of music.
In particular, she dreams of creating a socio-cultural center. “I would welcome orphans there, who we would train with other artists …”