Music: Coco Mbassi, Soul Artist

Coco Mbassi

It’s quite a challenge to describe the range of emotions Coco Mbassi‘s music carries me through. You know how, sometimes, a song moves you even though you don’t understand the lyrics? I’m hinting at the universality of the musical language. She does it.

CM_SiseaI was in Cameroon the first time I heard her music. Seating in a packed truck, I was exhausted, sleep deprived, and stuck in one of Douala’s notorious traffic jams. The radio was on; my mind was off. Na Pii hit the waves and the atmosphere changed; so did my mood. At the time I had no idea what the song was about, but it touched where it hurt and made it better. I enquired about the singer, then I learned that the song spoke to our soul’s resilience. Someone had translated the comforting lyrics for me. Before I left, my cousin kindly offered me her copy of Coco’s latest album at the time – Sisea.

CM_sepiaCoco embodies cultural diversity through her eclectic musical style and lyrics, and her linguistic fluency shines through her songs. She describes her music as a “tree with deep African roots and branches that extend some towards classical music, some towards soul, gospel and jazz, and others towards Latin music and even pop music.” She sings about life, love, social justice – promoting cross-cultural understanding and respect. She sings in English and Duala, just to quote a few.

Coco_Serge NgandoCoco’s music is a family and love affair. She writes most of the songs, and co-produces the music with her husband, Serge Ngando Mpondo. Trained in jazz, Serge Ngando excels at the bass, double-bass and the guitar.

I don’t want to make this post too long, because I want you to get to her music as quickly as possible; that’s the good stuff! Please, enjoy. 😉

For additional information about Coco Mbassi’s music and to get in touch with her, visit:

CM_Album Jóao Coco Mbassi’s website
o Facebook
o YouTube
o itunes
o MySpace
o Soundcloud
o Twitter

Her latest album is JĂła. The singer thoughtfully translated the lyrics of her songs in English, with a recap in French. Her music is also on spotify. Enjoy!

Black History Month Continues… In Music

Hi everyone,

I hope this post finds you all well. 🙂
I hesitated before posting this, as it might be slightly controversial; but I decided to go ahead, and here’s why: As we celebrate Black History Month, of course we also have on our mind the Civil Rights Movement, the fight for basic human rights to be respected all over the world, the access to food, education, health care… The need for someone who is living an honest life and working hard, to be treated as a decent citizen.

A few weeks ago I was sent the following video, which was filmed in Paris during the 2008 riots, riots pertaining to what I described above, with French citizens protesting, among other issues, on behalf of undocumented workers.
I’m writing this post because I think it’s one of those topics some might rather avoid. One institution that did not shy away from the discussion is the Harvard Educational Review, volume 79 of Winter 2009, which focuses on the experience of undergraduate Latina/o students. I wrote a column in the 2010 Fall edition of The Multicultural Review about it; H.E.R. devotes a whole section to undocumented students, in their own voice.

The video reminded me that there are still people fighting for these basic needs, and many doing so through art. There was something about watching that woman sing in the midst of the riots with a smile and a message of peace… May peace also be found in all the parts of the world currently shaken by unrest.

French translations of the lyrics below. Wishing you all a wonderful weekend.

Without papers i was born, without papers i shall pass away.

Let me tell you about the immmigrant
Let me tell you “undocumented”
Put aside all clichés, all prejudices
All speeches, demagogic,
They are ready for everything, it is poignant.

Without papers I was born, without papers I shall pass away

I did not come to break,
I did not come to burn
I did not come to steal
I did not come to beg

It’s always the same song,
Never positive, still negative,
I tell you that the malaise comes from there,
It is always the same that they show!!!!

Let me tell you about the immigrant
I want to tell you about disparity
A lot of people laud justice
But make off behind the vice
All these faces which we undress
And these messages that are wasted

Without papers I was born, without papers I shall go away

*The singer, Maddy, is a French citizen.*