The South Bank in London hosted a festival of African music last week, and on Sunday night we went along to see Dobet Gnahore perform in the smallest venue, the Purcell Rooms. It was a fantastic show and I am sure she will be playing somewhere bigger next time she is in London. She certainly deserves to, and if you get the chance to see her - go.
Born in Cote d'Ivoire but based in France since 1999, Dobet's music has a traditional African base with a few jazzy flourishes - fortunately just enough to make it interesting without tipping over into noodling. Visually very striking, her dancing is almost as entertaining as her singing. She was backed by a fine three piece band. I was particularly taken with Willy, the smiling drummer from Cameroon.
We were lucky enough to be in the front row so had an excellent view of proceedings. I took some photos, some of which came out reasonably well. If you are interested you can find them all over at Flickr.
There are hazards of being that close to the stage, however. During the encore I had a brief moment of panic when she appeared to be instructing us to join her on stage. Fortunately just as we were about to get up, four people next to us leapt up and launched into a clearly rehearsed and extremely energetic dance routine. I am not sure Mister F and I would have enhanced the experience with our random dad-dancing.
Enough rambling. Here are a couple of her songs. Hopefully after listening to them you will go off and buy some more.
"Palea" - Dobet Gnahore [from "Na Afriki", 2007]
"Evigne" - Dobet Gnahore (featuring Soum Bill) [from "Djekpa La You", 2010]
And here she is live in Dakar in 2008.