Ngaari Laaw

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Abou Thiam was born in 1961 in the Fuuta, the semi-desertic region in the north of Senegal near the Senegal river.

He formed the group Ngaari Laaw, with the hoddu player Mamadou Gueye and several other non-permanent musicians.

Abou has revisited the standard halpulaar repertoire by adding his own lyrics to traditional songs. These lyrics deal mainly with current issues of the community : political unrest, excision, literacy rate, etc. This choice of topics has enabled Abou to release several cassettes in Senegal with the support of NGO as part of their educative programs.

I started to work with  Abou in 1993 in Belgium in unusual circumstances : his guitar-player had quit in the middle of a tour and he was looking for a replacement. I learned his repertoire in a few days and we made a serie of concerts during the summer of 1993 including the Sfinks festival.

At the end of this tour I rented a studio and recorded two songs as we played them on stage. Later I re-arranged the two songs and send them on a tape to Abou in Senegal.

Abou was very impressed by one of the tracks, ‘Daara’ and sent it to the RFI music competition. Daara became of  the finalists.

Two years later Abou signed a CD contract with the French label ‘Cobalt’ and included on the CD the version of Daara that I had sent him.

However he never paid me anything for that, and I had to negotiate directly with Cobalt in order to get a (miserable) share of copyrights for that song !

That financial dispute ended my collaboration with Abou.

Nevertheless I still find this song one of the most beautiful that I worked on. I include also here the second song I recorded at that time which has never before been released.

  1. 1Daara
    Je n'ai jamais connu la signification exacte des paroles de cette chanson. Tout ce que je sais est que cela parle d'un village du Fouta. Mon arrangement est une progression ' tragique ' depuis le début tout simple de hoddu et de guitare jusqu'au final avec beaucoup de violons.
  2. 2Njaangen
    Njaangen parle de la nécessaire alphabétisation en Afrique. L'arrangement oscille entre le yella et le reggae. La partie médiane était à l'origine sans rythme bien défini et je l'ai retravaillée. Abou n'aimait pas trop, il trouvait que cela altérait la chanson et c'est sans doute pour cela qu'il n'a pas davantage utilisé le morceau.

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