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Once there was a little girl… Born near Monotélé in Southern Cameroon, she left for France with her parents at the age of thirteen. With her, she took memories of music and colours, her treasures. There were the multicoloured caterpillars that covered the trees in their thousands just after the rain and it may have been these creatures that fuelled her taste for colours and making music with the aim of pleasing the eyes as much as the ears. She had an aunt who sang all the time and whose voice undoubtedly suggested the girl’s future career. Sally learnt to perform in France, at first by working for others. Although singing backing vocals for famous artists is naturally a great opportunity for a young singer, it is a temporary solution and there comes a day when a young talent needs to go further. After accompanying Jacques Higelin, Sixun, Nicole Croisille, Touré Kunda and many others, Sally Nyolo decided to make a name for herself. In 1993, she formed her own group and began to map out her future on the Paris scene. In that same year, she sang at the Womad Festival in England and her performance won her a place on a compilation released by Peter Gabriel’s Real World label. She then met up with Zap Mama and stayed with the group for a while.
In 1996, she released her first album Tribu (Tribe) on the Lusafrica label. It displays her preferences: a breath of lightness and simplicity rather than the flashiness of over-sophisticated arrangements. On the record, she sings in Eton, the childhood language that she has always remembered along with bikutsi, a joyful, diabolical, mixed, mischievous beat, a favourite in the clubs and bars of Yaoundé and her native genre, invented by Béti women. After Tribu, Sally made Multiculti in 1998 and Béti in 2000, also co-produced with Lusafrica.
When telling her stories, Sally Nyolo bases them on the essential aspects of her roots, but constantly draws on her present environment, wherever she may be at the time. Travel is a spring of life and you should drink from it all the time, she says. It introduces you to new people and makes you grow, inspiring fresh desires and dreams. Sally Nyolo is open to the world and fond of getting together with others, so many friends feature on her album (Princess Erika, Nicoletta, Nina Morato, Suber, Muriel Moreno, Tyron Downie, Sylvie Nawasadio, Jean-Jacques Milteau, Nathalie Cardone), bringing blended colours, juxtaposing reggae (a genre she has always loved) with bikutsi and assiko, and offering a range of languages (Eton, French, English and even Portuguese this time). Everyone is searching for their own dream and Sally Nyolo has found hers in Zaïone… until the next time.