Musiques Métisses - 40 ans de Festival d'Angoulême
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Boy ge mendes
In 1952, Gerard Mendes was born in Dakar, birthplace of a large number of Capeverdean people (the archipelago is just far off the coast of Dakar, Senegal). Then he grew up among a colorful community of Malians, Senegaleses, Guineans… and of course, Capeverdeans. Attending a catholic school, he discovered his liking for singing, which he developped throughout parties and villages fairs. Later, Gerard gained some experience on stage in several Dakar’s night-clubs: the Black & White, The Marseille, The Alhabama, and in some disreputable piano bars. But who cares! It feels so good playing live and making money. At this time, his repertoire was made of standards: The Stones, The Beatles, Rythm’n Blues, some salsa; he sang in French or, phonetically, in English and Spanish. In 1967, plans took shape. With one of his brothers, the young Mendes formed his first band «The Beryls». So, the exciting life began: concerts and festivals all over Senegal. Gerard Mendes is breaking it through. In 1977, with his brother Jean-Claude, Luis Silva and Emmanuel Lima, he formed a 100% Capeverdean band, «Cabo Verde Show», which became the roots band for those who are exile in Paris or in The Netherlands; this step has been decisive: a desire for writing songs in his native language, Capeverdean, was born. On the Cabo Verde Show second LP, Gerard Mendes signed three compositions, highly acclaimed by the community. This success fanned the flames of going beyond.
He quit The Cabo Verde Show and started a new project with his brother: «Mendes & Mendes». In 1983, after three other LPs, he left Paris and moved to Nice, on the French Riviera. In 1990, something went click : Gerard Mendes became Boy Ge Mendes, a passing reference to his childhood’s nickname (in Dakar, guys call each other: “Boy”!), he recorded the song Grito de bo Fidge that will become the first hit of the Capeverdean music outside the community. After years of tours and concerts, Boy Ge Mendes decided to make a break. The migrating bird wanted to fly. From Brazil, New-York, Senegal to The Cabo Verde, he dragged his guitar around, Mendes was simply happy with garnering some melodies in the back of his mind. This is how Lagoa (“The lagoon” produced by Lusafrica) was born, a new composition and the symbolic title of his eighth recording. That was the album of rebirth, return to homeland, intimacy. As soon as this CD is out, he left Nice and went back to Cabo Verde. He was finally there, between the city of Mindelo in the São Vicente Island -where he lived- and the Boa Vista and Santo Anton Islands, where he liked to wander: Cabo Verde was his again... The Cabo Verde he loved, the one of the carnival and the San Jon celebrations (Saint John in June). The one of the “Noites caboverdiana” (capverdean nights), where glasses of grog (the local rhum) and guitars playing helped your people to dream of a new world, a better one. But also, the country of the uprooted farmers forced to exile to provide for their families. The Cabo Verde of Baia das Gatas and its amazing music festival, which gathers, every year on the beach, the wealthy and the poor for the August full moon. In the islands, Boy Ge recovered peace and serenity, favorable to meditation and creation. Hence, he composed the songs of his new album, the ninth one, that he has recorded in Paris during spring 99. It’s all about Capeverdean musics sprinkled with Brazilian and Caribbean influences;
Boy Ge was surrounded by friends, all musicians, coming from different vibes and backgrounds, who, throughout years, he has built up connections with: Mario Canonge, Thierry and Jean-Philippe Fanfant, Xavier Dessandre, Alain Hoist, Bago, Ravi Magnifique, Manu Lima… This album is all sweetness and sensuality, it brings in an elegant musical atmosphere, in which everything is just cleverly right and where Boy Ge Mendes sings his love and passion for that little country.