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French world music festival launches "Music from here" prize

By Alison Hird

To mark its 20th anniversary, the Villes des musiques du monde festival near Paris has launched the Prix des Musiques d'Ici (Music from here) to promote sounds and rhythms that have migrated into France. RFI met two of the finalists - Kanak singer, poet and slammer Paul Wamo from New Caledonia, and Franco-Colombian singer Ëda - at their showcase concert at Paris's Studio de l'Ermitage.

Paul Wamo is a kanak from the island of Lifou in New Caledonia, some 26,000 kms from Paris. A former teacher, he's both performance poet and singer. On stage, his whole body vibrates as he sings, shouts, and stamps the floor bringing the strong oral tradition of his kanak culture to life.

He performs kanéka, a style of music developed in the 1980s when Jean-Marie Tjibaou, president of The Kanak and Socialist National Liberation Front (FLNKS) called on musicians to create music that resemble kanak people and used their rhythms. Tjibaou was assassinated in Ouvéa in 1989, Wamo is a torch bearer.

His song Petit pays, croit (Little country, believe!) appeals to the "small, forgotten island in the Pacific, exploited for its nickel" to believe in itself.

Wamo's EP Sol was released in 2016, his debut album is due out in early 2018. Follow him on facebook.

Paul Wamo in concert at the Studio de l'Ermitage with guitarist Christophe Isselee, October 2017 lors du festival Villes Musiques du monde RFI/Hird

Ëda (Eléonore Diaz Arbelaez) is a 26-year old Franco-Colombian singer and double bass player. Raised on traditional south American songs, but with a taste for salsa, she gave up her career as an urban planner less than a year ago to make a career in music, backed by two talented French musicians - Anthony Winzenrieth and Natascha Rogers, with whom she now performs.

Together they've delicately built on Ëda's rich and haunting vocals, adding Latin rhythms and electronics to create a pleasing, uncluttered musical universe.

Stepping onto the stage Ëda announced her music was travelling "from the heart of the Amazonian jungle to the roofs of Paris" - a theme explored in the song Gloria's Jungle from her eponymous EP, to be released in November. Follow her on facebook.

Ëda (L.) and Natascha Rogers in concert at Studio de l'Ermitage, october 2017 RFI/Hird

The Musiques d’Ici prize will be awarded at the end of the Villes des Musiques du Monde festival. It runs through to 12 November. Check out the festival programme here.


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