Djely Tapa Diarra combines Mandinka music and electro in his first album: “Baroque”. © Jypheal for Etallon Group
It has been nicknamed the “Morello Cherry in Montreal”. Malian singer Djely Tapa Diarra, daughter of the famous Kandia Kouyaté, has made her place in the sun in Quebec music. His first album, Baroque, is at the crossroads of Mandingo music and electro. This fighter summons the rhythms of her country, Mali, into her Afro-futuristic music and especially sings “the black woman” with her incredibly deep voice.
What strikes you when you hear Djely Tapa Diarra for the first time is his voice. A strong and serious voice that clearly contrasts with the sound of the Malian singers that we have heard so far. “My father was almost a soprano, and in my voice there is a grain that belongs to my mother. But I have to be honest, I do not know where she came from myself,” she laughs over the phone. Coming from a large family of troublemakers, Kandia Kouyaté’s daughter says she has learned to love this smoky organ and to play with its grain of sand, which gives it all the warmth.
“I come from a number of very powerful women. My mother, my grandmothers, my grandmothers, they are strong women … It’s not easy to find your place in the middle of all this,” admits Djely Tapa. Settling in Canada for his studies allowed the singer from Kayes to find his way away from this heavy legacy. Like any self-respecting sour cherry, “she first played her part in society” and sang in diaspora ceremonies (weddings, baptisms, funerals). She also led workshops before embarking on her own artistic career.
A crucial meeting with DJ AfrotroniX
After accompanying many African musicians settled in Canada, the meeting with Caleb Rimtobaye, aka AfrotroniX, was crucial. It is in the mix of traditional music and electro that she completely found herself. Chadian DJ, who produced his album, and the singer worked on these mixes for two years, each refining their own definition of “Afro-futurism”. On one dance floor, the electronic morning with sounds from all over Africa, on the other, a legacy of the Mandingo tradition and light details of electronics.
The basis of this Baroque comes from the rhythms of the region of Kita in western Mali, where the singers’ grandparents come from. “We wanted an ‘afro-beat’ that represents us. We wanted to show the world that Afro-beat is in the hearts and movements of Africans. It is the rhythm of a woman carrying her child, crushing millet or cultivating her field. , “Explains Djely Tapa. Nothing to do with Fela Kuti’s music here, but rather with the electronic sounds that have drifted from the continent for a few years.
For her, this first album is above all made to “listen”, the dance comes with the stage. If the title means “talk” in Bambara, Djely Tapa sings “black woman”. “There is not much difference between African women and Western women,” she notes. “Before, Malian women had some freedom. They participated in all the decisions they were respected. Years there has been more violence. They have become much more ‘slaves.’ , while historically doing everything. Unlike Western women, who only recently had the freedom to vote and be considered drunk people … ”
Quebec, a true land of welcome
It also evokes the lack of water or the desire to go to the moon (Departure to the moon), as a flight. However, his strength, Djely Tapa Diarra, also considers having it “from his adventure in Canada”. In a province, Quebec, where women have fought hard to achieve their rights (abortion, equal pay …), she notes that “every Quebec woman born is a feminist”. “And even the men,” she slips. Djely Tapa defines himself today as a “Quebecer of Malian origin” who can no longer do without “his winter”. How does she experience the difference between Gala Dynasty, which rewards black artists, of Junos, which distinguishes between the best Canadian artists, or of the Rideau Exchange? And the recognition of the media, what made it one of their revelations?
“When you come to this country and consider that you are part of this ‘little people’, as they say, it is the acceptance you see first. I feel accepted in my host country, in the country I have chosen. “I feel the openness. Not only for me, but for all the artists that are being created, it is a hope”, she explains. Although there are a few words in French and English, she would sing in Bambara, Malinké and Khassonké. This choice also seems to have facilitated the very good reception that it receives.
If she has occupied the stage for twenty years, Djely Tapa seems to have arrived through hard work to an important stage in her career as a singer.
Djely Tapa Barokan (Label 440) 2020 Official site / Facebook / Instagram / YouTube