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Montréal, Quebec, Canada | INDIE

Montréal, Quebec, Canada | INDIE
Band World Folk


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REVIEW: H'SAO Founders Park, Nelson. Last night.
I have to say this gig wasn't quite what I expected - an a cappella performance from an African group from Chad now based in Canada, although several a cappella numbers did book-end each of the two sets. These were harmonic works of amazing art, the acrobatic voices of the five young men from two Chadian families providing intricate, astonishing orchestration all by themselves. I hadn't expected so much of the programme would involve the group performing band music - even if it was mostly high-energy and highly disciplined, enhanced by a unique African twist, with two on guitar, two drumming and frenetic Israel on keyboards. Much of their Afro-pop sound reverberated in a strong, driving reggae beat, shades of Bob Marley. At times it was hard to tell where one song ended and the next began. They sang in French, Arabic and African, with some English thrown in - sometimes
several languages within one number. Much of the time this felt like a dance party, no bad thing, the floor pumping with bodies and strobe lights. But come interval I remained unengaged. Then the second set kicked off with two gently exquisite a cappella soul numbers, the fine fingering of acoustic guitarist Caleb tugged the heart and I was bewitched. There's no categorising this hugely versatile, volatile group. They're a meld of so much, like the history of music from its roots in
one composition. Always the rhythm was there, the movement - some pretty sexy moves! They were passionate, flamboyant, funny and soulful. While the slower paced, quieter harmonies hooked me most, I ended up cheering with the rest. Somehow the word "song" doesn't do justice to what H'Sao brings to its party. God bless Chad! - Nelson Mail (New Zealand)

St Paul's Cathedral
Saturday, October 13
H'SAO is a well-known and popular musical group from Chad which has toured extensively and made it big-time in Canada's music scene, particularly Montreal where it is now based.
H'SAO presented a two-hour recital in St Paul's Cathedral on Saturday afternoon, which was full of the joys of making loud music and singing. The five-member group showed incredible energy and versatility on synth, guitars, drums and various shakers. Their music combines the rhythms of traditional Central African regions with Western styles
of jazz, gospel and R&B, and is unmistakably ethnic through and through, whether with text in their mother tongue dialect, French, Arabic or English. Continual body movement matched the mood and rhythm of the music, which was mostly in the form of building to a colourful climax through variation of call and response between themselves, and at times with the
audience. I would have appreciated a programme sheet with titles, as spoken introductions were inaudible for many in the packed cathedral, and the songs were often similar in sound and style, though I am sure the text would have been varied. Some of the excellent solo passage
highlights obviously expressed very deep sentiments on a certain topic or event. But I did manage to catch the title of La vie est belle, and so understood why midway, one vocalist suddenly burst into an extremely high jumping and gyrating dance routine. (Chad's version of Michael Jackson!)Reverb levels in the mix were much too strong for the natural acoustics in the vast openness of the cathedral - at least from my mid-centre pew. The members of the H'SAO group have such a passion for their music and their country, plus a real skill for working their fans and a crowd. I would love to have heard them in
another venue - our stadium perhaps?
- Elizabeth Bouman - Otago Daily Times ( New Zealand)


I’ve just seen H’Sao’s concert at École Saint-Anne in Fredericton, NB.

I would like to tell you how much I appreciated this show. You are fantastic. The rhythms, the lyrics, the dancing, your stage presence and the way you engaged the audience touched me very deeply.

Everytime I see your name, I will gladly shout from the rooftops for everyone to see your show. It was a divine experience.

1000 Bravos!

Denis G.

July 12, 2010
Hi Claudia,
The weekend was great and the band was fantastic! I heard lots of positive comments about them from audience members as well.
Thanks so much!

Doug Cox,
Artistic Director – Vancouver Island Music Festival

July 15, 2010
Hi Claudia -
It went very very well - they were happy to be in Harrison, and great to work with. Evening show was awesome, and they did a great job in the Children's Day workshop
Phyllis Stenson,
Harrison Festival of the Arts, Harrison Hot Springs (BC)

July 15, 2010
Hi Claudia -
It went very very well - they were happy to be in Harrison, and great to work with. Evening show was awesome, and they did a great job in the Children's Day workshop

Phyllis Stenson,
Harrison Festival of the Arts, Harrison Hot Springs (BC)

September 29, 2010
The performance was fantastic & the patrons loved it. There was a real "buzz" in the room and people kept clapping & cheering until they came back & did an encore.

Below are a couple of feedback comments were have received already.

Thank you Gold Coast for embracing HSAO. They were engaging, musicality outstanding overall a world class act.

Diana Kinsey Thank you Arts Centre for the tickets to H'sao! Such amazing energy and talent from all on stage. We had a great time trying to shake our bootie like them and loved it so much we purchased their CD

Kind regards

Cheryl Jorgensen
Programming Manager
The Arts Centre Gold Coast – Queensland, Australia

P 07 5588 4018 M 0438 606 698
E jorgensen@theartscentregc.com.au

October 6, 2010
On behalf of Brisbane Festival 2010 I would like to extend an enormous thank you to and H'Sao for your contributions to the Festival and in particular Into Africa.

Into Africa. was a great success with wonderful feedback from audience members, artists and media with well over 10,000 attendees despite the unfavourable weather conditions.

Without your contribution the Festival would not have been the success that it has been.

We welcome feedback and comments in regards to H'Sao's overall Into Africa experience and encourage you to volunteer your thoughts for areas for improvement and to send us any photos and /or footage you would like to share.

I look forward to working with you on future festivals.

Yours sincerely

Natasha Hardy l Programme Managerl Brisbane Festival
P: +61 7 3833 5448 l F: +61 7 3833 5450
Brisbane Festival 2010, 4 - 25 September
www.brisbanefestival.com.au <http://www.brisbanefestival.com.au/>

- Presenters comments.

Last week, I travelled to Ottawa for a few days to experience Canada Day in the capital city for the first time. As part of the festivities, there was an afternoon concert on Parliament Hill, where Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Queen Elizabeth II addressed the crowds. The concert showcased many Canadian acts, finishing off with the Barenaked Ladies, but one group particularly stuck in my mind.
They are called H’sao, and are a Quebecois music group whose members originally hail from Chad. Their music blends the traditional sound of their home country with soul and R&B, resulting in a unique and exceptional sound. The original four members – siblings Israel, Caleb, Taroum, and Mossbass Rimtobaye – performed first in their father’s church, and started playing outside the church in 1994. They were called hirondelle, meaning swallow in French, by their father. A year later, the band was expanded with the addition of Charles and Service Ledjebgue. They began calling themselves H’Sao – the H is for hirondelle, while the Saois a tribute to their ancestry. They relocated to Montreal, Canada, from where they have been captivating audiences with their harmonies ever since.
The sound of the band is very dynamic, and can lend itself to completely different moods. They can be light and playful, like in the song Baby .
They also have a more serious side, which is best expressed through a cappella, a style that H’Sao mastered long ago – they didn’t introduce instruments into their lineup until 2000.

- Sweet Sound of Sunrise

Jeudi soir aux Francofolies, H’Sao donne une performance à faire rêver de l’Afrique même les plus urbains des Montréalais. En mode festival, le jeune groupe tchadien est envoûtant.

Six artistes aux talents multiples, des voix saisissantes au sourire éclatant, une ambiance à faire danser même les plus petits, des cadences à faire s’emballer même les plus âgés : H’Sao est une bête de scène, avec ou sans instrument. La formation, qui sortait en 2009 son deuxième album Vol 235 (235 est l’indicatif régional du Tchad), présente un spectacle rythmé et bien construit.

Les six Tchadiens (quatre sont frères et soeur), superbement sympathiques, s’introduisent d’abord de leurs voix par quelques compositions a cappella : un début de show en toute sobriété, si l’on considère la suite des choses. Il faut se souvenir que H’Sao s’est d’abord fait connaître pour la puissance de ses chants a cappella, qui dégagent une énergie hors du commun. Lorsque chacun se disperse devant son instrument (clavier, guitare, basse, tam-tam, batterie, maracas et autres percussions), l’atmosphère enflammée occasionne dans la foule d’ambitieuses vagues de déhanchements et des frissons d’allégresse. Autrement dit, tous sont ravis d’être là à ce moment-là, sourires et densité de foule à l’appui.

Le sextuor chante principalement en sara (langue officielle du Tchad), mais aussi en arabe (autre langue officielle du Tchad), en français et en anglais. Le succès manifeste du groupe lors des Francofolies s’explique peut-être par le fait qu’il ne semble pas être nécessaire de déchiffrer les paroles de chaque composition pour en apprécier le message envoyé. La musique, absolument enlevante, porte en elle une force qui plaide pour la vie, l’amour, le rassemblement, l’espoir et la joie. Il semble qu’on ne doive pas comprendre les mots et se laisser guider par tout le reste, soit une musique africaine aux inspirations multiples, quelque part entre gospel et R’nB, pop et soul, hip-hop et reggaeton.

Les Africains ont sans conteste un don pour la danse qui fascine le public québécois. H’Sao l’a bien compris et donne dans le coup d’éclat. Izra-l et Taroum, seule présence féminine du groupe se font acclamer chaque fois qu’ils ponctuent le spectacle de quelques chorégraphies audacieuses.

Après avoir interprété quelques succès dont un plaidoyer particulièrement prenant pour que cesse le recrutement d’enfant-soldats, H’Sao boucle la boucle et termine sur une prestation a cappella : Aimer d’amour, légué par Boule Noire, dont le vidéo-clip occupa le Top 5 du grand décompte Musimax en avril dernier.

Sao est un hommage aux ancêtres du Tchad. Quand au H du nom de la formation, il représente l’hirondelle.
- Francofolies


H'sao -June 2003
Vol 235 - September 2009
Ôria - February 2013



H’Sao: a family; a band. Caleb, Mossbass, Israel and Taroum Rimtobaye and their childhood friends, brothers Charles and Service Ledjebgue are the six group members. Originally from Chad, they are now living in Montreal.

Originally known as Hirondelle (Swallow), the band renames itself in 1995. It becomes H’Sao, meaning literally “Saos’ Swallow”, the Saos being the ancestors of the people of Chad.

Made of virtuoso singers with amazing a cappella renditions, that they master to perfection and that single it out on the World Music scene, this young, talented group draws inspiration from Gospel, traditional African music and its chadian roots. To this they add a love of soul, jazz and R&B. H’Sao blends all these styles with a joyous appreciation of African rhythms. The voices are magnificent, true and powerful, their original compositions, their unique style, the energy on stage, contagious… and lets not forget the mesmerizing numbers of African dance performed by certain band members. No show is ever too long for them or their audiences

Since its inception, H’Sao’s African beat and message of hope has resonated throughout the world, from France to Australia, by way of Haiti, Sweden, Canada and South Africa.