Manou Gallo – Afro Groove Queen (Contre-Jour 2018)

Manou Gallo born in 1972 in Divo a small city in the Centre Western region of Ivory Coast, is a virtuose and unique talent with a rich heritage of her origin of the Djiboi tribe.

Manou Gallo - Afro Groove Queen

Manou has an equally extraordinary story to tell. Already as a little girl she was different and walked her own ways. She plays the tambour (percussion drums ), which is normally only reserved and allowed for men in the Ivorian culture. Raised by her grand-mother who was looking after her like her own daughter, Manou was rather autonomous from early on: ‘At this time, I was leaving like a little savage. I was helping cultivating the fields, drawing water from the well. I wasn’t going to school, but my grandmother taught me traditions, respect, and values’. It is easy to imagine Manou, wearing tiny shorts as they were all clothes she had, her big smiling eyes, her head full of lice, climbing mango trees and running freely in the alley-ways of Divo. While waiting for her friends after school, Manou was already beating rhythms, banging on her legs, stomping with her feet, marking the tempo with her voice: Rhythm was her obsession: “When I was a little girl, I was already going from backyard to backyard, these places where each family comes together everyday to cook, sing, in one word to live together. I was meeting my friends and sooner or later we inevitably started singing, dancing and beating on iron boxes”. In the Ivory Coast, playing music is an ongoing tradition taking place at funerals, births, or to welcome newly born twins as well as for any event of everyday life: In Divo, life follows the traditional Djiboi rhythms. From a material point of view, life is just basic, but it is full of warmth and people live there feeling good in their heads. 

One day she saw a Bass guitar and knew this was her instrument. In her hands, she transforms it into a percussion instrument, expressing her unbridled joy in groovy rhythms. Her musical career soon lead her to the legendary world music band Zap Mama, and with them to Belgium. Since 2003 based in Brussels, she is a brilliant bandleader, lead singer and bassist and has proven that with many bands and projects she has developed and played with. With her current band the music fuses to a groove orchestra in a modern and fresh way, the heart and soul of Africa on the stage, especially the Djiboi (inhabitants of her birth region) and at the same time, they created the modern connection to the western culture with it. 

Her way of playing the bass is so unique that even the likes of Manu Dibango, Mamady Keita, Wyclef Jean, Marcus Miller and Lucas van Meerwijk became aware of her. Her name is also known internationally: In 2009, Manou wins the MAMA Award (MTV Africa) as the “best artist” of the Ivory Coast. In 2013, FORBES AFRIKA magazine named her the only women among the “Top 10 Best African Bassists”, including Richard Bona. 

Manou Gallo is the front woman of Afro-European music. The biggest stages are open to her, until the dramatic moment of a medical diagnosis in 2011: Tinitus – and the doctors recommended her to go less on tour. In the desperation and the unrestrained urge to play the bass guitar, she spent the years of regeneration obsessed with improving her technique on the bass. In the same time her energy evaporated to produce a new album after her first releases (DIDA 2005 , MANOU GALLO 2006 and LOWLIN 2010) – the musical future was too futile. 

Bootsy Collins now brings the bass virtuoso in the starlight and awakens in her the power and the absolute musical will to bring it back on the stage. More powerful than ever – the new album “AFRO GROOVE QUEEN” is a departure into other musical spheres. Always connected to the African roots, she combines her sound with funk, jazz, soul and blues into multi-layered sound collages whose rhythm brings joy. Her musical expertise will reflect in the new album “Afro Groove Queen” which is produced by Bootsy Collins 

AFRO GROOVE QUEEN” is a musical love triangle and adventure between Africa, Europe and America. Funk, Jazz and Afro Groove are the pillars. As special guest BOOTSY COLLINS, MANU DIBANGO, CHUCK D. and ZAP MAMA will be there to celebrate musically the highest level of Manous Revival. And like a little girl on a drum, the power woman again sets the pace on the bass. With “Afro Groove Queen” she once again proves that she belongs to the top league of top bass players in the world.