Hailed as the new face of Mother Africa, with a voice and a role compared to Miriam Makeba and her powerful vocal bridge between traditional African and western pop drawing parallels with Angelique Kidjo, Dobet Gnahoré is the rising star headlining the Etnosoi! Festival. Her latest album Na Africa has been praised for continuing the breadth of her percussionist father Boni Gnahoré’s pan-African vision while adding her own focus through her songs, which highlight issues of women’s and children’s rights on the continent.
Based in the southern French port of Marseilles since 1999, Gnahoré is keen to link her music to the wealth of influences flowing through this thoroughly international city, as well as the reggae music of Ivory Coast’s own Alpha Blondy and Tiken Jah Fakoly. At the same time, she’s keen to stress the importance of her childhood training in an “artists’ village” near the capital Abidjan. There she was taught a range of performance arts - music, song, dance, percussion and theatre, and all these skills she brings to her shows.
|Sat 7 Nov
Savoy Theatre, 19:30
Kasarmikatu 46-48, Helsinki
Onstage, Dobet is a vivacious bundle of energy, blessed with a powerful voice and infectious charisma. Shortlisted for the BBC World Music Award in 2006, since then she has played over 300 concerts in all four corners of the globe, though never before in Finland. Singing in seven African languages as well as French, she defines her approach as “defiantly diverse, musically and linguistically.”
Wearing sumptuous Afro-chic outfits and hair extensions flailing as she swaps a flute for a thumb piano or a shaker, Gnahoré is set to bring more of the colour of her continent to dark, autumnal Helsinki, much as we witnessed in the summer from Malian Oumou Sangare.