Afrikana Soul Sister
Great is the power of music when honestly combined with the desire to bring people together. For Afrikana Soul Sister, the statement pretty much acts as a motto in addition to summing it all. With a clear intention to bond in spite of the differences, the band fiercely holds on to its belief that, through music, barriers are being broken, physical and mental boundaries get blurred while souls and bodies come alive. Therefore, they all commit to a core word: “togetherness”, as in living together, learning together, growing together and such.
Led by seasoned Quebec multi-instrumentalist, producer and arranger Jean-François Lemieux (Jean Leloup, Daniel Bélanger, Ariane Moffatt), and completed by Senegalese percussionist Fa Cissokho and Malian singer Djely Tapa (named Révélation CBC/Radio-Canada for the year 2019-2020 in the World Music category), the trio embodies the unclassifiable meeting of West Africa and North America in a vibrant place where tradition and the thirst to create outweigh ego. In response to the ambient individualism, Afrikana Soul Sister conveys a unifying message: that of a universal humanity and openness, supported by both profound and similar values. Coupled with confidence and an appetite for mutual discovery, this inclusive philosophy brightly colors the entire project.
Delivering its unique Afro-electro music infused with percussive yet futuristic flavours, Afrikana Soul Sister is the happy collision of landscapes and people who don’t usually tend to intertwine. Most of all, it is also a reunion of brothers and sisters. Propelled by the urge to work in lockstep, it is the story of a welcoming family, which extends to all of the collaborators involved in the process of making colourful music. Including balafon and plenty of voices rising up, the Afrikana Soul Sister’s signature is definable as an intense and liberating one, comparable to craftsmanship in its essential form. Part of this proud and lively family are the musicians Sylphir Solveig, Joannie Labelle, Isabelle Delaney, Naxx, Goundo Cissokho, Ariane Moffatt, Émile Bilodeau, Donald Dogbo, Alain Bergé, Adama Daou, Assane Seck, R9 La Légende, Zal Sissokho and the Orphée quartet (Geneviève Clermont, Nathalie Duchesne, Karine Lalonde, Stéphanie Collerette) who pitch in, whether on tape or on stage.
A true transmitter of energy, the band has, since its debut, hit the stages of numerous festivals an venues — including the Montreal International Jazz Festival, FME in Abitibi-Témicasmingue, Tam Tam Macadam (Alma, Quebec), Montreal’s MEG Festival, Festival d’été de Québec, Festival international de la chanson de Granby, Festival Musique du Bout du monde (Gaspé, Quebec), Kultrun World Music Festival (Waterloo, Ontario), Northern Lights Festival Boréal (Sudbury, Ontario), Festival de la chanson de Tadoussac — in addition to being featured in the 2017 CBC/ICI Musique Top 50 Best Albums of the Year and earning nominations at the ADISQ and GAMIQ galas in the category “Album of the Year — World Music” for its namesake album.
Tackling the relationship with nature, strength of work, respect for elders and the beauty of life through lyrics in Mandingo and Wolof dialects, Afrikana Soul Sister manages to achieve an open yet comfortable balance between modernity and tradition, all this without ever distorting its key message. Carried by frenzied rhythms and intoxicating grooves, the outcome is a stunning, memorable experience where one can feel the powerful complicity within the trio. And let’s be honest, who doesn’t like making good memories? Yeah. That’s what we thought.
The three-piece band is set to release KALASÖ (which translates as “We’ll all go to class” in English), their second LP in career, in 2021.