Story and photos by guest writer Samuel Bresenden
Last Saturday night in Los Angeles provided the rare opportunity to experience the shining star that is Dobet Gnahoré, an extraordinary artist from the Ivory Coast in West Africa. Dobet is a gifted singer, dancer, and multi-instrumentalist. Along with her band Na Afriki (‘To Afrika’), Dobet delivered a fascinating performance in a very intimate venue at Cal State LA’s Luckman Fine Arts Complex.
The concert was presented in a smaller stage, which may have seemed less deserving than the main large theater. While that did not appear to reflect the talent of the artist, nor the publicity she deserved, it certainly proved to be a benefit to the discerning music aficionados who filled the hall. It gave the chance for the audience to see, hear, and feel Dobet’s music and commanding stage presence very up close and personal, in a way that might not have been the same in the larger theatre.
The night started with the stage in near darkness, drummer Mike Dibo walked in first, sat down at his drum set, opened with a ‘talking drum’ like solo, then eased into a soft rhythm that welcomed Dobet to the stage. She picked up her Mbira, (a traditional thumb piano instrument from Zimbabwe), launched into a swaying, soulful melody that interlocked with the drums patterns, and was joined seamlessly by guitarist Julien Pestre and bassist Valéry Assouan. Continue Reading →