Just before live music was to begin Tuesday evening a windy rainstorm swept in off the lagoon, delaying the International Women’s Day concert and postponing other shows on the outdoor stage. The program in the Salle Lougah Francois inside the Palais de la Culture went on as scheduled, though, with a swaying tropical vibe set by Ballou Canta, a Congolese artist whose warm voice resonated well in the concert hall. His repertoire from his recent album Boboto emphasized Antillean jazz and zouk rhythms arranged by his Martiniquan pianist Herve Celcal. Guadeloupe’s G’Ny followed with gwoka rhythms underlying jazz ballads. Cape Verdean Jenifer Solidade continued the Cape Verdean zouk and coladiera. Meanwhile the Women’s Day concert got underway, opening with Ivorian singer Ayidrissa. Mali’s Fatoumata Diawara (pictured above) followed with an explosive set that invigorated the audience. A nine-member Ivorian female group, Bella Mondo, kept the energy at a brisk pace with a strong set of “tradimodern” offerings. Zeynab, one of Benin’s great artists, deilvered a set of bolojo music anchored by a rock-solid rhythm section.
One of the most anticipated sets of the festival followed. Cameroonian Charlotte Dipanda offered an impeccable set of soothing jazz and makossa propelled by funky bass lines and a tight quartet, although a bikutsi song lacked local color. Kandia Kouyate, one of Mali’s great djelimusos, then sang the praises of women in the audience to end the evening.
Ayidissa, one of a new generation of talented Ivorian vocalists, opening the International Women’s Day concert at the Palais de la Culture in Abidjan. All photos by William Farrington.
Ballou Canta performed material from his current project Boboto, on which the Congolese soukous pioneer collaborated with Martiniquan pianist Hervé Celcal. The rich velvety tones of Canta’s voice illuminate the sultry Antillean jazz and zouk rhythms arranged by Cercal.
Fatoumata Diawara, after removing her headwrap, was a Wassolou whirlwind, tossing braids and cowrie shells in circular rotations.
Bella Mondo, nine female musicians from Cote d’Ivoire, performing at a special International Women’s Day show at the Palais de la Culture Abidjan.
Bella Mondo’s front line of three dynamic singers, backed by six female musicians, all from Cote d’Ivoire.
Charlotte Dipanda, Cameroon’s favorite songstress, popular for her soothing jazz and makossa, added an elegant presence to an energetic evening of women’s music at MASA’s International Women’s Day event.
Kandia Kouyate, one of Mali’s foremost djelimusos, undiminished after a stroke, sang the praises of women in the audience accompanied by two chorus singers and traditional musicians.
Zeynab, Benin’s “Queen of Bolojo,” performing at MASA. At the core of Zeynab’s music is bolojo, a traditional Yoruba rhythm. Long percussive medleys summoned audience members to the stage to dance. She is recording her fourth album, on which pop stars Fally Ipupa and Selebobo will be featured.
Zeynab’s stellar rhythm section propelled her performance and the bolojo rhythm brought audience members to their feet at MASA International Women’s Day special presentation.