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Pierre AkendengueVérité d'Afrique
Akendengue is one of the grand masters of contemporary African music and has been for nearly four decades. Pierre Akendengue was born in Gabon and it was there that he acquired the culture of village music and festivities, and the sounds of the forest that have shaped his musical career ever since. At the end of the 60s in France, he professionalized what he saw as his essential nature: the art of music. For many young Africans struggling against the autocracy of recently established political regimes in Africa, the former colonial power was a refuge where they could express themselves or simply exist.
Suffering from a serious eye disease, Akendengue arrived in Paris to receive treatment in the mid-60s, and was granted asylum amid the political turmoil of the time. For many young people, music was an opportunity for expression and protest, and in Paris, Akendengue found the right conditions to articulate his revolt and exercise his passion. He enrolled at the famous Petit Conservatoire de la Chanson de Mireille, where so many of the stars of 60s, 70s and 80s French song studied. There, he was discovered by Pierre Barrouh, the man who launched the careers of Jacques Higelin and Brigitte Fontaine, among others. In 1974, Barrouh released Pierre Akendengue’s first album, entitled Nandipo, on his Saravah label. Two years later, the artist was awarded the SACEM copyright society’s Young French Song prize for Africa Obota, a magnificent ode to Africa and a remarkable success. With Africa Obota, Akendengue plunged his musical roots into the soil of France, his home in exile, gaining recognition from the French public in return, until he chose to return to Gabon in 1985. He went down in history as the originator, or courier, of the African music explosion in France at the start of the 80s, along with Touré Kunda, Xalam, Youssou Ndour, Salif Keita and many others.
Storyteller, warrior, sociologist and poet, Akendengue brings together different genres. With his poetic lyrics, subtle metaphors and apparently simple light melodies, Akendengue has established himself as a unique artist, one of those who brighten perceptions across frontiers. No rage or contempt distorts the beauty of his songs, a beauty we hope for in all artistic works at every moment.
After Lambarena (1993) - a daring fusion of Bach and Gabonese traditional music written with Hugues de Courson – he publishes the radiant Gorée in 2006, an album in which he continues to draw on the tradition of the Gabonese forest and the culture of eternal Africa with a force that is his alone, declaring: “Art must firstly be an instrument of liberation. Artists must not talk for the sake of talking or lie about the things they know. I believe that the few songs I’ve written and which have come to the attention of music lovers have always followed this line of conduct. Because, in the silence of their hearts, artists make a promise of loyalty to themselves.”
In 2008, Vérité d'Afrique displays all those qualities that make Pierre Akendengué such a unique, productive artist. Recorded in Libreville, Gabon, and at the Lusafrica studio in Paris, this new album glows, lyrical and intimate, tender and strong. The artist wrote the arrangements for some of the tracks with Ivan Lantos - a musician he had worked with before, founder of Kolinda, a group that revitalised Hungarian traditional music - but most of the album was produced by Nando Andrade, who added a touch of Cape-Verdean musical sensibility and chose reliably talented musicians, notably Paulinho Vieira on cavaquinho and João Pina Alves (‘Kako’) on acoustic guitar. “I wanted to open up to new sources of influence,” explains Akendengué, speaking of this partnership. He also says he has found meaningful traits and expressions in the melodic colours of Cape Verde, and perhaps a certain vision of musical pan-Africanism. “At home, we say a people that sings the same song is a united people.”
Other albums by same artist