Vieux Farka Toure
The sound of Cameroon ... and the launch of the iPhone6 ...
Tuesday 13th September 2016, 7.30pm
Yellow Arch Studios, Sheffield
Sorry - no report available.
Blick Bassy, born in Cameroon and now living in the village of Cantin in the North of France, has been making music for more than 20 years. In 2015, Kiki, a track from his third album, Akö, was chosen for Apple’s iPhone6 advertising campaign, propelling him onto the wider international music scene. After a summer playing festivals across Europe (including WOMAD), this is a chance to catch Blick playing a unique gig – one of just six in the UK – where he will talk a bit about his music and story as well as playing a full set of his stunning music.
With over 250 ethnic groups and as many dialects and languages, Cameroon has one of the most diverse cultures in Africa. Sometimes it is known as ‘Africa in miniature’ as it’s the one country where you can find almost all the peoples, vegetation, flora and fauna that you find in the whole of the African continent. This makes it a very rich country musically. You find Bantou in the centre, south-east and west, but also Mandinka in the north of Cameroon.
Music has been an important part of Blick’s life from an early age. Growing up in a large family with 21 brothers and sisters, his mother taught the children to sing traditional choral chants so that they could sing at Sunday mass in the church that his father built – drawing in the faithful from the surrounding villages. Later after school his friends would come round and they’d sing songs by Marvin Gaye, Stan Getz, Eboa Lotin, Ndedi Dibango and other musicians who inspired them – improvising instruments from what was available around them.
He formed his first band at the age of 17. They were called The Jazz Crew and would later develop into Macase, an inventive jazz fusion group inspired by local rhythms with three singers, all singing a different Cameroonian language. It was here that Blick began to reinvigorate Bassa as a language that could be used in modern music, a language that he felt the younger generations should appreciate.
After 10 years of performing with Macase – in which the group toured around Africa and played a number of festivals in Europe – Blick grew frustrated with the lack of infrastructure for an artist in Cameroon and decided to move to Paris. It was there, in 2005, that he started his solo career, eventually releasing his debut album Léman (a record that fused West African and Central African rhythms) in 2009, and following it up with Hongo Calling (which was recorded in Brazil following Blick's research into the musical link – mainly through slavery – between Cameroon and Brazil) in 2011.
His most recent album, Akö, released on the innovative No Format label in 2015, was inspired by the American bluesman Skip James and features the unusual combination of banjo, cello and trombone with such a variety of delicate and beautiful arrangements that you’d be hard pushed to identify their country of origin. But the themes in the album are clearly rooted in Cameroon - talking about the transmission between the new and old generations, the education of children and the rural exodus that is happening in the majority of African countries, where the villages are abandoned - along with their traditions and customs - in favour of towns and cities where living conditions aren’t necessarily any better.
This TalkingGig will feature a first half where Blick will talk about life and culture in Cameroon, his musical influences and development - illustrating his words by playing key songs. There will also be a bit of time for an audience Q&A before a second half which will be a full-on gig with his band. Don’t miss this unique performance by this hugely talented star of the international music scene.