By Kathleen Rose Kennedy
The International Nuits d’Afrique Festival runs from July 7 to 19, and includes acts from all over the globe for both indoor and outdoor shows: Latin America, the Caribbean and many parts of Africa. The festival started in 1987 and has been thriving ever since – there are over 55 artists at this year’s festival!
This week, VMO attended a night filled with African sound at the Club Balattou in downtown Montreal. The star of the show: Mali-born Awa Sangho. This 43-year old started her career at a very young age. In fact, her last name “Sangho” reveals that she is a descent from the Griots of the Songhai, who are known as musical historians.
She was often seen singing, dancing and acting along side her mother at weddings and naming ceremonies. This West African has co-founded a women-led band called Les Go de Koteba in 1993, was a member of the reputable Ensemble Kotéba and began a solo career in 2011. Her musical achievements are impressive to say the least.
Alataye Tougnaye is the title of Sangho’s first and most recent solo album, meaning, “The Truth Belongs to God”. Through this album, she was able to fulfill her role as a cultural ambassador to the world, and a personal musical vision, as well as receive a nomination for the “Best African Artist of the Year” category at the 57th Grammy Awards in .
Sangho’s music speaks volumes about social equity and the importance of education, which gives children their freedom. She hopes to transmit the message of hope and peace through her songs: “I give voice to the voiceless. But it’s not about preaching. You can be Buddhist. You can be Christian. You can be vegetarian.
You can stand up for yourself,” says the artist.
The show started at 8:30pm sharp and ended at 11pm. Her music is often aimed at youth, however that didn’t stop older concertgoers from attending. There were actually mainly adults watching the show. With six to seven people on set at once, the stage was as crowded as the small venue – all the seats were taken and there were lots of people standing in the back.
What made the performance even more enjoyable was the fact that many of the performers on stage were wearing traditional African attire, as well as playing customary instruments, such as a lute, kora and ngori. Other more common instruments that were present were drums, keyboards, bass guitar and electric guitar.
Therefore, the music that was produced was like nothing we’ve ever heard before. With the assortment of all kinds of instruments, it’s hard not to want to get up and dance. In fact, that’s exactly what most people did. She encouraged people to come dance in front of the stage with her.
Sangho’s strong presence on stage was achieved by her beautiful voice, radiant smile and graceful dance routines. Our favorite song she performed was called “Emama”, which means, “thank you – thank you to my mentor for helping me achieve my dreams,” said the artist.
The festival lasts for only a few more nights, so get out there and dance to the tunes of African music. We did it and thoroughly enjoyed it.
Last Night at the Gayete
The Centaur Theatre's - season is drawing to a close with its final production of Last Night at the Gayety, a musical comedy by Bowser & Blue which runs until May 22nd.