Christine Salem

Christine Salem

BandWorld

Formerly known as Salem Tradition, Christine Salem is one of the rare feminine voices of maloya with a strong and charismatic personality. Christine’s voice seems to float as she sings in Creole, Malagasy, Comoran or Swahili, mixing music from the Indian Ocean with African rhythms.

Biography

Christine Salem is a rough diamond, an extraordinary artist with a unique path. Rebel and untamed by nature, freedom is a necessity for Christine. Could it be otherwise for someone who was born December 20th, the anniversary of slavery abolition in la Réunion ?

Christine Salem is a self taught artist, making her journey even more edifying. Born in the Camélias, to a modest neighbourhood in Saint-Denis, on Reunion Island, Christine had a wild childhood. Part cagnarde -bad girl-, part tomboy, she used to play football and drag her boredom around the stairwells.

Despite the fact she never met her father, she believes he used to play the accordion. But it is on her own that she forged her singing, along an unsteady youth where wandering in town was worth as much as any other life experience: skipping school was a way to escape.
At the age of eight while hanging around the streets of Saint-Denis, she witnessed an impromptu concert by Ziskakan: it was a revelation! Immediately after, she took up singing with a passion and by the age of 12 she had composed her first song (a blues number in English).

She spent her teen years writing while having memorable encounters with artists such as: Arnaud Dormeuil, Michel Narsou ek Kan Bourbon, the percussionist Laurent Dalleau… Accompanied on a guitar, Christine sung the séga, the blues and the maloya in the streets. She then received valuable guidance from Danyèl Waro, and becomes hardened to the stage with help from Gilbert Pounia (Ziskakan), and finally stands on her own two feet and forms “Salem Tradition” at the age of thirty.
Christine has never stopped writing and composing. In maloya country where the dead speak to the living, she fills in her notebooks in the midst of her troubled sleep. But it is on stage that most of her songs come to life, during ecstatic shows that even leave her own musicians stunned. During those moments of intense creativity, a wave of lyrics and emotions literally go through the young woman. Vector or medium, she gives her body while her ancestors guide her quill through her mind, echoing the revolt of fugitive slaves.
The singing that follows is the sum of those contradictions. A very deep voice in a woman’s body, texts of anger on trance-like music or lamenting over furious rhythms. Above all, it is an invented language where onomatopoeia mingles with Creole, Arabian ,Malagasy, and Swahilis accents.
In 2009, to get a better understanding of the origins of this mysterious dialect, Christine decided to research into the background of her ancestors; a long initiatory journey that took her to the Comoros in Madagascar where she discovered a tribe speaking that language she has never learnt.
Now, Christine carries with pride the standard of the creole identity that finds its roots in ethnic origins as much as in social ones. Besides all this, she gives a lot of her time to the young people from her town by working for a neighbourhood association. Between singing workshops and teenagers camps she carries out persevering work of social accompaniment for the disadvantaged people, an occupation that allows her to“keep ones feet on the ground” at a time when her artistic career is taking off.
Christine Salem is a rough diamond that she shapes as she wishes; she is an extraordinary artist who follows an unusual path, resisting any type of compromise, inherently rebellious, culturally unsubdued and marked by an absolute need for freedom. Born on a 20th December, the day of the abolition of slavery in Reunion how could she be anything else?

The title of the album “Lambousir”in Creole means “the mouth of the river” but also “to flounder around”, a double meaning not unusual in this rich language. Christine Salem’s sound on this album shows she has matured somewhat. The personal research into her own roots clearly took a weight off her mind. It was the first time that slavery and “marronnage”- slaves running away and living free-was mentioned in her lyri

Discography

Lanbousir (Salem Tradition & Cobalt / L’Autre distribution & KDM Family, 2010)
Fanm (Cobalt / L’Autre distribution, 2006)
Krié (Cobalt / L’Autre distribution, 2003)
Waliwa (Salem Tradition & Escales de Saint-Nazaire / L’Autre distribution, 2000)