Entertainment

The message of Mamakaffe

Sunday, April 13, 2014    

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This is the ninth in a 10-part series looking at the impact of dancehall/reggae culture around world.

JAMAICAN music has influenced the African artiste for many years. Recently, a number of dancehall/reggae acts have journeyed to the 'Motherland' to meet increased demand for live performances.

Since 1996, Cote D'Ivoire native Mamakaffe has taken her brand of reggae to the continent's airwaves. Songs including Africa Yea, Enemies of Justice, Natural Girl and her current single, a remake of Rita Marley's Beauty of God's Plan (featuring reggae singer Hefla Nya) have made her a household name in her homeland.

Mamakaffe (real name Mariam Emelie Legros) was born in Abidjan in what was then known as the Ivory Coast. She was raised by parents who were traditional drummers. With the help of her older brother, she relocated to France and formed a drumming group called Doni Doni.

In 1996, she began singing professionally. Her brother came up with the moniker Mamakaffe because of her love for coffee.

She found the message of reggae even more addictive.

"After hearing the song Stir it Up by Bob Marley, I decided that reggae music was what I wanted to do professionally," said Mamakaffe.

"Reggae music has been my constant companion through the many struggles that I have been through."

She first visited Jamaica in 2007 and has stayed for extensive periods, recording and learning the country's culture. Mamakaffe credits veteran percussionist Bongo Herman as a mentor who has familiarised her with the local music scene.

She recently signed a distribution agreement for her label Tuff Mind Tender Heart with VP subsidiary VPAL, to release her first EP Natural Girl.

Some of the musicians she has collaborated with are keyboardist Paul 'Wrong Move' Crossdale, trombonist Nambo Robinson and the Firehouse Crew.

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