Audio

5 Cameroonian Female Soul Artists You Should Know

Okayafrica presents 5 Cameroonian Female Soul Artists You Should Know, including Charlotte Dipanda, Danielle Eog Makedah, and Sanzy Viany.


Sanzy Viany

With an experimental soul scene which ranges from Soul Makossa to Neo-Soul, Cameroon has a unique environment wherein soul singers hardly settle for "traditional soul music," but rather explore genres (both traditional and urban) such as Makossa, Bikutsi, Jazz, R&B and Spoken word, which flow in and out of soul, creating complex blends which can at times be difficult to classify. Below is a list of 5 Cameroonian female soul artists you should know about.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Charlotte Dipanda

Before going solo in 2009, Charlotte Dipanda had worked with Manu Dibango, Richard Bona, Rokia Traore, and Koppo among others, as well as joined the Hundred Voices Gospel choir. Her first album Mispa, recorded in Paris in 2009, placed her as one of the most influential voices on the Cameroonian soul scene. Sometime later, Bona took her under his wing (she performs as an opener at his shows). Her second album, Dube L’am (2011), which means “my faith,” includes collaborations with Jacob Desvarieux of Kassav, as well as Loukwa Kanza and Bona.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Danielle Eog Makedah

Shortlisted for RFI’s Prix Découvertes in 2013, Paris-born Danielle Eog Makedah’s style is a fusion of soul, spoken word and hip-hop. She's collaborate in the past with Les Nubians, Papa Wemba and Manu Dibango. Her 2013 LP, Peace love & Light, is a blend of musical genres like Jazz, Afrobeat, Bossa nova, Makossa and hip -op, at times venturing into neo-soul, and features collaborations with Shy Fx, Mister Ndongo, Christian Obam and Ayriq Akam.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Sanzy Viany

Sanzy Viany’s style is a fusion of Jazz, Soul and Bikutsi (a musical genre from the Centre Region of Cameroon). She has performed in French Institutes in Cameroon, CAR, Benin and has well as toured Holland as part of the Daughters of Africa project and has collaborated with fellow Cameroonian artists such as Henri Dikongue, Krotal, Sissi Dipoko, Manu Dibango and Ismaelo from Senegal, Amy Koita from Mali and Monique Seka from Côte d'Ivoire.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Debra Debs

Cameroon-born, London-based soul singer/songwriter Debra Debs was recently number one on the UK SoulCharts and Jazz FM’s January week 3 "Album of the Week." Her 2011 EP WHUMAN and LP LifeCycles (2013) have influences as varied as 90's R&B, Jazz, and groove. According to her Soundcloud, “Debra Debs owes her early music days to her mother's Jazz collection and the missionary boarding school for girls she attended where she sang tenor in both the choir and girl band formed with 7 classmates.”

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Olgha

Olgha (aka Olgha Nkweti) has been active underground in the music and poetry scene for years, doing backup vocals for artists like Debra Debs and several artists who have recorded at M1 Studio, G3 Studio and Drimp Studios. “You,” her first single which was released in September 2013, is an uplifting groovy tune amid a backdrop of traditional instruments, the most prominent being a drum, in a way that's reminiscent of Erykah Badu’s 2000 song “Didn’t Cha Know” off Mama’s Gun.

Follow Dzekashu MacViban on twitter at @Dmacviban.

Interview

Interview: Terri Is Stepping Out of the Shadows

We talk to the Wizkid-signed artist about the story behind the massive hit "Soco" and his latest Afro Series EP.

Certain afrobeats songs have made in-roads in international markets and paved the way for the genre's ceaselessly-rising widespread recognition. Among these history-defining songs were D'banj's "Oliver Twist," Tekno's "Pana," Davido's "If" & "Fall," Runtown's "Mad Over You," and of course, Wizkid's "Soco." Wizkid released "Soco" under his label imprint, Starboy Entertainment in March 2018, and the song spread like wildfire across Africa and beyond. "Soco" was an Afro-pop wonder delivered at a time when the 'afrobeats to the world' movement was gathering steam, further cementing its electric nature. The Northboi-produced song was co-signed by celebrities across the world like Rihanna, Cardi B, and Paul Pogba and has accrued well over a hundred million streams across streaming platforms worldwide.

"Soco" was not only a trailblazer amongst mid-2010s afrobeats records, it was also the introduction of the first Wizkid-signed artist, Terri. Just weeks before "Soco" was released, Terri was discovered by Wizkid's longtime producer, Mutay, who saw him covering the song "Oshe" on social media.

Before "Soco," Terri Akewe was well on his way to fame. At fifteen, he had performed at street carnivals in his neighbourhood and, one time, was carried all the way home by neighbours after winning a Coca-Cola sponsored singing competition. Before his life-changing meeting with Wizkid, Terri had a seven-track EP ready for release, as well as a viral song titled "Voices." "One time I was on set with the video director T.G Omori, he told me that 'Voices' was the first time he heard of me" Terri tells me as we settle on a plush couch at his home in Lagos.

Regardless of Terri's initial career trajectory; signing to a label headed by afrobeats' biggest superstar was bound to accelerate his musical journey, and at the same time, cast a huge shadow of expectation on his career, especially given a debut as spectacular as "Soco." With his latest EP, Afro Series, powered by the sensational single "Ojoro," one thing is clear: Terri is stepping out of the shadows into his own spotlight and he is doing it on his own terms.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Keep reading... Show less

get okayafrica in your inbox

popular.

Interview: JAE5 Is Crafting London's Distinct Diasporic Sound

We talk to the buzzing producer about his Grammy win alongside Burna Boy, his work with J Hus and the ever-looming influence of Ghana.