SO KALMERY
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SO KALMERY

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"The crush : So Kalmery, guardian of harmony"

Balades dans l'univers sans frontières de ce guitariste flamboyant, auteur, compositeur et interprète inclassable, qui conte avec pudeur, en swahili ou en anglais, ses coups de foudre et ses coups de gueule. Né là où il y a la guerre aujourd'hui (Bukavu, dans l'est du Zaïre), So Kalmery commence sa carrière de musicien voyageur à 9 ans, après la disparition de son père, combattant lumumbiste. Il perfectionne sa voix auprès de Dorothy Masuka, la diva du jazz sud-africain, crée son groupe, joue avec Ben Harper, John McLaughlin, Papa Wemba, Paco De Lucia, etc. "Ma musique tourne autour du brakka [musique née dans l'Egypte ancienne] cosmique", dit So. Gospel, folk, groove, rythmiques et harmonies complexes sont le commun de son dernier album, Rasmi (Buda Musique/Mélodie). Laissez-vous porter par l'intensité émotionnelle de son jeu et par sa voix enfantine si caressante. Ce petit homme est un grand et son album, l'un des meilleurs "africains" de l'année 1996. - L'Express


"Brakka System - chronicles"

« So Kalmery doses his affects and his passions to print a personal and lasting track, a world more and more moving at each listening. » - Vibration


"So Kalmery makes the traditions groove"

Ne croyons pas ceux qui assurent qu’il n’est que chanteur, poète, et danseur : So Kalmery est d’abord africain, sa musique est l’Afrique. Le quinquagénaire, l’un des plus fins guitaristes du continent, a appris à chanter sur le dos de sa mère congolaise, travaillé en Afrique du Sud, résidé au Kenya, croisé Paco De Lucia ou Ben Harper en Europe, et il vit aujourd’hui pour partie en Guadeloupe. Et ses albums sortent aux États-Unis. Ce qui met le brakka (style musical intégrant toutes les traditions de l’Afrique orientale et combat politique) à portée de l’univers entier. Produit par Stuart Bruce (l’homme derrière les consoles pour Amadou et Mariam, ou Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan), les dix chansons de ce nouvel album (huit années d’attente après Bendera) accueillent quelques invités pertinents (Aziz de l’Orchestre National de Barbès, ou le claviériste camerounais Patrick Bebey), mais doivent surtout à l’inspiration et à la force de conviction du leader. L’attachement à la terre originelle, la révolte nécessaire face à l’impérialisme occidental, et les thèmes explicitement critiques (Makout évoque naturellement les Tontons haïtiens) alimentent les refrains du chanteur, journaliste et témoin. Si ne sont pas oubliés les purs appels à la danse (et peu plus si affinités dans Calling), So Kalmery use de ce dérivé polyrythmique du blues pour raconter l’Afrique et le monde, et évoquer ce que nous sommes dans la valse des chaînes (Brand New Day). Sacré challenge. - Les Inrockuptibles


Discography

2013/2014 : New album to come (no replica yet)
2009 : Brakka System / World Village
2001 : Bendera / Tender
1999 : So Kalmery & Ujamaa / Buda
1996 : Rasmi / Buda
1989 : So / CBS

Photos

Bio

So Kalmery was born in 1955, in Bukavu region, near the Kivu Lake in East Zaïre. As a musician’s son, So started singing when he was really young, in children choirs. He followed his elder brothers who played Brakka music in orchestras and composed his first songs at 9. When he was 14 years old, he was « kidnapped » by a conductor of orchestra who took him for a tour in Burundi and Kenya. He found in Kenya a kind of motherland where he became famous for his involvement and has been known as one of the most talented of his generation. Then he decided to leave when he realized how much he was exploited.

Two years later, E.M.I, the biggest record company at this moment, signed his band Vedette Mambo – future King Melody Band. Several collaborations and albums recording followed, allowing him to enrich his musical knowledge, especially concerning his research of orchestration and harmony mastery: some sound recordings with Dorothy Masuka (author of « Pata Pata » sang by Myriam Makeba), Papa Wemba and Koffy Olomide (Viva la Musica band), recording of the album Lusaka Music Palace, then Ujamaa and So & Ujamaa with the King Melody band, renamed Ujamaa.

On tour, he opened for Paco de Lucia and John Mac Laughin and featured with them on stage thanks to a meeting planned by Fela’s manager in 1987. En 1989, he recorded So for CBS France. He met many other different artists and went on tour all around the world.
As an insatiable globe-trotter always looking for humankind roots and values, he went to Egypt in order to draw from African history’s source. He also discovered and practiced the oud. In 1994, he left for Australia: Aboriginal artists welcome him, shared their daily life and taught him how to play the didgeridoo. Loving this music instrument, he has mixed in with his music, as well as he has done with the oud.

These two journeys have been decisive towards the next steps of his career. From 1995 to 1996, he recorded and released Rasmi. He was Eric Bibb’s guest at Chicago Blues in Le Havre and at Queen Elisabeth Hall in London. He performed in Europe and in Australia and opened for Ben Harper during his French tour.

Aware of the music stakes and the opinions that artists expose to the youth, So Kalmery wonders about real musician’s role into the society: he wants to give to African peoples the way to hold society changes and to take their common future in hands. Therefore, he writes and composes his songs, and creates his shows according to this fundamental point: his music, initially inviting to celebration and sharing, becomes educational. So loves History and Ethnology; he is eager to learn and gets involved in giving birth to a strong “black conscience”, to serve peoples development.

Thanks to his exceptional career, this contemporary minstrel follows a single way, using his music to express his sincerity.

BRAKKA MUSIC
Considered as a philosophy, a fight, and a dancing music, Brakka means Bra : beginning ; Ka : infinite, mind – a music influenced by African traditions and mixing with urban music from different ages.

« Brakka music is the music of origins and the music’s origin; it is universal and teaches us a forgotten secret. It talks about what we are. It echoes with our past. It is our mother’s chant, Africa, humankind cradle land. It is Life tempo, cosmos rhythm. Brakka music goes across frontiers, across differences. It goes through body and mind, into a sacred union named harmony. Brakka is a music style and a dance style. It is a source of rebirth. Bra, like beginning, Ka like infinite ». So Kalmery