Friday, November 13, 2015

Manou Gallo

I am amazed by Manou Gallo's musicianship and have chosen to investigate and provide more details of her musical journey here in In-Box Jewels:

English: Manou Gallo during a concert in Frank...

English: Manou Gallo during a concert in Frankfurt, Germany, 02/07/2004. Français : Manou Gallo lors d'un concert à Francfort, Allemagne, 07.02.2004 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Getting inspiration from my own .mp3 library.  This video of Manou Gallo can be found on her "Official" YouTube channel. I rediscovered Manou Gallo in my music library this morning. She is a percussionist, guitarist, dancer and vocalist and happens to be from the Ivory Coast. WOW!!! On the electric guitar at 3:50 is stunning. Rock on, Sister Gallo.

Excerpts of Manou Gallo's biography:

Divo. A small city in the Centre-Western region of the Ivory Coast, the cradle of the roots of the Djiboi people. This is where Manou Gallo was born on
August 31st, 1972.

Rhythm was her obsession:

“When I was a little girl, I was already going from backyard to backyard, these places where each family comes together every day to cook, sing, in one word to live together. I was meeting my girlfriends and sooner or later we inevitably started singing, dancing and beating on iron boxes”.

In the Ivory Coast, playing music is an ongoing tradition taking place at funerals, births, or to welcome newly born twins as well as for any event of everyday life.  In Divo, life follows the traditional Djiboi rhythms. From a material point of view, life is just basic, but it is full of warmth and people live there feeling good in their heads.

I love the story of Manou’s earliest performance, a funeral for which the appointed drum player never showed up where Manou first impressed an audience.  Always dragging a stool behind her, she went towards these big drums, the talking drums (‘Atombra’ in Dida, the language of the Djiboi people). She climbed up to the height of the braced skin and started beating on them. Her mastery was already amazing. In the heart of Bada, the village which represents the most ancient part of Divo and where traditions have remained most alive, people were just amazed.  Everybody was really astonished, and a bit shocked also since women are not allowed to touch these drums. To some extent, they were taking her for a witch.

"When at the age of 8, I was getting seated to play drums during this ceremony, I could feel the power of my ancestors on my fingertips."

Years went by and Manou grew up. Still living in Divo, she sold oranges and developed her ability to master the rhythm on a daily basis:

Each summer in the Ivory Coast, meetings are organised during which participants from all over the country get together. The objective is to create a sort of an artistic competition amongst the young: This event is called Vacances-Culture (Cultural Holidays). In 1984, at the age of 12, Manou took part in her first show. It was also the first time she left Divo. This theatrical performance, which is now organised for other children coming from all around, is inspired by Manou’s story. It describes the life of a little witch who receives the power to play drums. The play is always a big success.  Each time Manou is on stage, the audience is amazed and admire her.

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