Dobet Gnahoré

North America, Asia, Australia, South America

Dobet Gnahoré, a singer, dancer and percussionist from the Ivory Coast, inherited the force of the “Bété” tradition from her father, Boni Gnahoré, a master percussionist who plays with the Abidjan-based Ki-Yi Mbock Company, directed by Werewere Liking. It was within this Ivory Coast-based company that Dobet met French guitarist Colin Laroche de Féline, who went there to immerse himself in African melodies and rhythms, after being introduced to them by Toroma Sika in France. Having spent some time in the well-known Tché Tché dance company, Dobet decided with Colin (in 1999) to form a duo, Ano Neko, which means “Let’s create together“ in the Bété language. The duo toured widely in France (1999-2000) where they settled temporarily following the instability that unfortunately struck the Ivory Coast.

When they returned to Abidjan in 2001, they took part in MASA Off (festival). While they were there, recorded eight songs under the supervision of the late Marcellin Yacé, who was killed during the first day of rioting in the autumn of 2002. They then decided to come back to France, at least until peace and stability reigned in their beautiful country once again.

In 2003, their artistic project refocused on Dobet Gnahoré and expanded when a backup vocalist and a percussionist joined them. This was when the Contre Jour label produced her first album entitled Ano Neko, making the link with Dobet and Colin’s evolving musical history. Ano Neko contains songs recorded in Abidjan and others recorded in Belgium during the summer of 2003.

From Mandingue melodies to Congolese rumba, from Ivory Coast Ziglibiti to Cameroon Bikoutsi, from Ghanian High-Life to Zulu choirs, their compositions, carried along with jazz-like sounds, are varied and colorful. The sanza, the balafon, the calebasse and bongos are brought in to support the guitar, the vocal backup and Dobet’s warm and powerful voice.

Dobet sings in a range of African languages including Bété, Fon, Baoule, Lingala, Malinke, Mina or Bambara, thereby reproducing the Pan-African tradition of the Ki Yi Mbock group. On stage, her voice, her charisma and her presence, the result of several years theatrical and choreographic work, has immense audience appeal.

Dobet and Colin are joined by the choir-singer/bassist Nabil Mehrezi and by percussionist Laurent Rigaud. Together they make a world tour that sees them performing this opus in over 220 concerts from March 2004 to November 2006.

Three years after Ano Neko, came Na Afriki, dedicated to Dobet Gnahoré’s own vision of Africa. The singer speaks freely of love, death and the place itself – and of exploitation – of women and children in African society today, with as her central lamentation, her credo: the resources Africa must find for itself, within itself. With Na Afriki, Dobet presents an album of varied sounds and pan-African rhythms, delivered in many different languages… A beautiful work!

Dobet, who won the BBC Radio 3 Awards for World Music 2006 “Best Newcomer”, made her North American debut in the fall of 2006 in Putumayo Presents: Acoustic Africa, alongside Habib Koite and Vusi Mahlasela.

In 2010 and Dobet Gnahoré won the Grammy for Best Urban/Alternative Performance for the song “Pearls” in collaboration with India.Arie. Dobet released her third, highly anticipated solo album, Djekpa La You, in 2010. Again in 2012 – 2013 Dobet took part in a new version of Acoustic Africa with Manou Gallo and Kareyce Fotso, touring in West Africa, Europe, and the US. In 2014 Dobet has released her fourth album *_Na Drê_.