early 20th century Senegal portraits by Mama Casset

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Dakar ca 1950-1960. Photo Mama Casset, studio African Photo. Courtesy Revue Noire

The history of Senegalese photography begins in Saint-Louis du Sénégal, capital of the French Sudan, with the first African photographers who began their trade in the studios originally operated by white Europeans.
The African pioneers gave a less exotic, more modern and prosperous image of their fellow citizens, away from the typical western imagery.

This unique exhibition includes thirty images taken in Saint Louis by the earliest African photographers like Mama Casset whose name is less known by the Western public than that of Seydou Keita.

see the exposition The elegant Senegal of the first half of the 20th century , until 26th August 2018.  Circulo de Bellas Artes, Madrid Spain

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Saint Louis ca 1930, anonymous. Photograph courtesy Revue Noire

MAMA CASSET
AND THE PRECURSORS OF PHOTOGRAPHY IN SENEGAL

In 1870, in Saint-Louis, the former capital of Senegal, Meissa Gueye, Doudou Diop, Mama Casset and others photographed the bourgeoisie and the Senegalese people. In 1940, in Dakar, Mama Casset set up her new studio “African Photo” and became the undisputed master of the portrait, creating the stereotypes of the pose in the studio, often used in painting and studio photography across the continent. One of the first African masters of photography.


Mama Casset, born in 1908, died in 1992 after a life spent first in Saint-Louis-du-Senegal and then in Dakar, in the Medina.

Initiated to the photography of the time of the colonization by the French Oscar Lataque, he will be enlisted in the French army to make aerial photographs. In the 1940s, he set up his studio, “African Photo”, in the Medina, to become the fashionable photographer of Dakar.

more on Revue Noire

PORTFOLIO ‘MAMA CASSET STUDIO AFRICAN PHOTO’

an exclusive limited edition of 20 copies as box set containing 10 original photographs is for sale here

Keep on Bumping in 2017 -South African Disco & Boogie Part 1

 

Keep on Bumping in 2017…

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Syndicate – Keep On Bumping

Scroll to page 18-24 for Soul Gems & Bump Music in this volume of  ‘Hot Stuff’. The story of South African Disco & Boogie Part 1…discover how  soul singer Margaret Singana became known as Lady Africa….read a collector’s story on one of the rarest records by Percy Sledge produced and recorded for a South African movie…and remember why David Thekwane and Patricia Majalisa became household names in South Africa and beyond.

Percy Sledge -Soul Fire 

This post features an extended article on South African Disco & Boogie I wrote for the ‘Hot Stuff’ online magazine. This specialist publication is recommended wholeheartedly, chockablock with  interesting interviews, articles, reviews and memorabilia of the Disco era.

More rare stuff in Part 2 of South African Disco & Boogie to be published soon…

Thank you for being a part of Soul Safari! Just to let you know that Soul Safari appreciates your visit to these pages. May 2017 be a safe, prosperous and healthy year for all of you!

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What Happened, Miss Simone?

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in this fascinating biography on Nina Simone by Alan Light,  the late singer also speaks, through the many documents from her legacy of private correspondence and diaries. This brand new book is part of a revival on the artistry and life of Nina Simone, a militant and successful but also troubled singer who became an icon of American jazz & blues.

Director Cynthia Mort of ‘Nina’, the film released earlier this year in the US received a lot of criticism  by casting the lightly colored actress Zoe Saldana, who does not resemble the singer physically and had to be transformed rather drastically to perform as the ‘blackskinned’ Nina Simone.

Then of course there was the Netflix documentary ‘What Happened, Miss Simone’ by Liz Garbus on which the book by Alan Light is based.

Ms Simone, known as one of the last great jazz divas, was also a committed civil rights activist in the United States during the 1950s and 1960s, fighting oppression as a black woman from the segregated southern US states. Songs like “Mississippi Goddam” and “Four Women” became iconic statements of that period.

As a young jazz piano player and singer, Nina Simone was quickly discovered and found immediate success. She became a millionaire and a star on the  American and international stages and performed in numerous television shows. But at the same time Simone began to become more and engaged with the emerging black protest movement of nonviolent protest of Martin Luther King to the racial separatism of Malcolm X. Her rants about racial discrimination in America from the stage alienated her public.

On April 21st 2003 hundreds of mourners gathered in the southern French town of Carry-le-Rouet to pay their last respects to legendary US jazz and blues singer Nina Simone (born Eunice Waymon 1933)

South African singer Ms Miriam Makeba, a close friend of Ms Simone, was among those in attendance at the funeral in the Our Lady of the Assumption church at Carry-le-Rouet, just west of the port city of Marseille.

“She was not only an artist but also a freedom fighter,” Ms Makeba said before taking a seat inside the church next to Simone’s 36-year-old daughter Lisa for the ceremony.

“Nina Simone was a part of history. She fought for the liberation of black people. It is with much pain that we received the news of her death” read a message sent from the South African government.

At her request, Ms Simone’s ashes were spread in several African countries.

10 songs & 1 book to celebrate 40 years of Surinam independency

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happy birthday Surinam! The former Dutch colony celebrates 40 years of independency today.
During the festivities swinging music will be heard on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. It seemed appropriate to me to select 10 personal favourite tracks from my own collection to celebrate this festive day here in Amsterdam and Surinam. May these gems be heard around the world, as far as  Paramaribo…Kawina, Kaseko, disco, surinam soul, latin, mambo …all from different decades and representing the most typical styles of  Surinamese music.

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At the same time I would like to pay attention to a special book which recently appeared; “Sranan Gowtu’ by Diederik Samwel. Published by Nijgh & Van Ditmar in association with record label Top Notch which already released two compilations with the stars of the Surinamese music in 2013.

The first step in the revaluation of Surinamese music started in 2013 with the collector ‘Sranan Gowtu’ with songs from six different decades. The compilation is packed with Creole music, calypso, Kaseko music, winti songs, salsa, soca, dancehall to the timeless pop hit ‘Wasmasjien! ” by Trafassi. Besides digitally and on CD this compilation is also available in gorgeous red and green vinyl.

However, this is only the beginning. The purpose of Sranan Gowtu is not only to provide an overview of the range of beautiful Surinamese music, but also to go in depth with compilations of individual performers. So meanwhile the best work of  Dear Hugo, Trafassi, Max Nijman, Papa Touwtjie and Kid Dynamite has been republished.

And here are my 10 favourite songs from Surinam….

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Big Jones and his Kawina Band -Ala Pikin Nengre

from the soundtrack ‘Faja Lobbi ‘; a film by Herman vander Horst (1960)

a kind of ballad about the town of Paramaribo. In the introductory solo singing, all the children (ala pikin nengre) are called to go to the town (foto) to admire everything that may be seen there; the houses (hoso), the big ship (biggie boto), the factories, the machines, the cars, the shops (wenkri) etc. Finally we arrive at the market (wojo) where we find an endless variety of articles, and an equally wide variety of people.

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Big Jones -Par’Bo Mambo

rare mambo track that celebrates life in the capital Paramaribo

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Coco Valoy -Juliana

great latin instrumental by a member of Los Virtuosos

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Orchestra Tropical -Tata Vodoe

the kasekomasters -boroe cover watermarked

The KasekoMasters -Boroe

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Max Nijman and The New Faces -Sugar

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Ricky -Poeirie

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Edwin Bouterse and his Rhythm Cosmos -Disco Party

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Spooky’s Express -Express

instrumental version called ‘Express’, while the vocal side is called ‘Music’. Clearly a remake/rehash of ‘Soul Finger’, the big instrumental hit of 1967 by The Bar-Kays.

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Billy Jones & The Stars – All My Brothers Are Clean

more Surinamese music in subsequent posts.

Do Not Sell At Any Price -The Wild, Obsessive Hunt for the World’s Rarest 78rpm Records by Amanda Petrusich

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You need this book. Really. Especially if you are -just like myself- an obsessed collector of long lost music.

It is one of the most intriguing and well researched music books ever written on the 0bsessive hunt for the World’s Rarest 78rpm Records.

see also Caluza’s Double Quartet -makwaya music on 78 rpm

“A thoughtful, entertaining history of obsessed music collectors and their quest for rare early 78 rpm records” (Los Angeles Times), “Do Not Sell at Any Price” is a fascinating, complex story of preservation, loss, obsession, and art. Before MP3s, CDs, and cassette tapes, even before LPs or 45s, the world listened to music on fragile, 10-inch shellac discs that spun at 78 revolutions per minute. While vinyl has enjoyed a renaissance in recent years, rare and noteworthy 78rpm records are exponentially harder to come by. The most sought-after sides now command tens of thousands of dollars, when they’re found at all. “Do Not Sell at Any Price” is the untold story of a fixated coterie of record collectors working to ensure those songs aren’t lost forever.

Music critic and author Amanda Petrusich considers the particular world of the 78—from its heyday to its near extinction—and examines how a cabal of competitive, quirky individuals have been frantically lining their shelves with some of the rarest records in the world. Besides the mania of collecting, Petrusich also explores the history of the lost backwoods blues artists from the 1920s and 30s whose work has barely survived and introduces the oddball fraternity of men—including Joe Bussard, Chris King, John Tefteller, and others—who are helping to save and digitize the blues, country, jazz, and gospel records that ultimately gave seed to the rock, pop, and hip-hop we hear today. From Thomas Edison to Jack White, “Do Not Sell at Any Price” is an untold, intriguing story of the evolution of the recording formats that have changed the ways we listen to (and create) music. “Whether you’re already a 78 aficionado, a casual record collector, a crate-digger, or just someone…who enjoys listening to music, you’re going to love this book” (Slate).

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source

Scribner |
288 pages |
ISBN 9781451667066 |
June 2015

– See more at: http://books.simonandschuster.com/Do-Not-Sell-At-Any-Price/Amanda-Petrusich/9781451667066#sthash.uBOoq898.dpuf

Masks -Haitian Vodou and Togo deities

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Maske is a Haitian kreyol word, meaning to wear a mask. Todays selection of text and some of the most stunning pictures of Haitian Vodou comes from the book ‘Maske’ by Phyllis Galembo.

This acclaimed book with thrilling photographs, showing masquerade performers in Nigeria, Benin, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Burkina Faso, Zambia and Haiti is a celebration of African art, and a work of vivid artistic imagination. Photographs of carnival characters, mostly rooted in African religion and spirituality, are presented in chapters organised by tribal or carnival tradition each introduced by a short text by Galembo about the characters and costumes portrayed. The art of masquerade is introduced by art historian Chika Okeke-Agulu, (himself a participant in masquerade events during his childhood in Nigeria).

See also previous post Maske by Phyllis Galembo -Makishi & Lakishi masquerades & more

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Within the African Diaspora, Haitian culture is known for its strong connection to Yoruba, Congo, and other Cross river cultures which, over centuries, slaves combined with influences from local Taino Indians and Europeans, and from Vodou.

For these photographs of traditional religious rituals Galembo went to Haiti, where she documented the traditional priests and priestesses of Vodou during Jacmel Kanaval, when troupes of musicians and dancers fill the streets. A wonderful yet dangerous event, the mood can swing wildy from exuberant joy to defiant aggression. Today, after the catastrophic earthquake of 12 January 2010, Jacmel Kanaval was cancelled and, as I write this, much of Haity including Jacmel, remains in ruins.

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ISBN 978-1-905712-17-5

First published 2010 by Chris Boot www.chrisboot.com

see also Vodou, Visions and Voices of Haiti

Published by Ten Speed Press; ISBN: 1580086764; 2005

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and just one more Voodoo photograph, from Togo…from the book ‘Faces Of Africa’ by Carol Beckwith & Angela Fisher -National Geographic Society USA 

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A Voodoo devotee from Togo surrenders himself to the spirit of his personal deity. His eyes roll upward and his pupils disappear, leaving only the whites. Depending on which direction they eyes roll, observers can tell what spirit has possessed him. This man, with his eyes rolled toward the sky, is possessed by Hebioso, the thunder god.

This seminal volume first published in 2009 is a landmark. The award-winning team of photographers Carol Beckwith / Angela Fisher and authors of African Ark present a stunning selection of 250 full-color portrait photographs from across Africa, spanning every region of the continent, from the Islamic Africans of the North, to the tribal cultures of sub-Saharan Africa, to the people of the South, in a compact edition of their acclaimed book.

Faces of Africa: Thirty Years of Photography
Beckwith, Carol / Fisher, Angela

Published by Natl Geographic Society 2009-01-06, 2009
ISBN 10: 1426204248 / ISBN 13: 9781426204241

Gentlemen of Bacongo by Daniele Tamagni

as an addition to my previous post Les Sapeurs, battle of the dandies here is an interesting -and beautiful- book that deserves your attention, ‘ Gentlemen of Bacongo‘ by Daniele Tamagni (hardcover – Jun 1, 2009).

It was brought to my attention by fellow blogger A.G.Nauta Couture who wrote an interesting post on Les Sapeurs du Congo

See also this video-report from the night club Saint-Hilaire in Kinshasa in August 1967

At the same time a new fashion was emerging in the Saint-Hilaire and other clubs in Kinshasa. To dress perfectly like Europeans. It had begun 500 yards across the Congo River in Brazzaville but had spread to become a cult of elegance among young Kinshasans.

They were members of what they called La Societe des Ambianceurs et des Personnes Elegantes – Sapeurs for short. At the heart of the vision was a dream of Paris. It had started in the 1950s with trying to dress like post-war Parisian existentialists – or “existos”, but now it was all about wearing labels like Dior.

See also In pictures: Congo migrant fashion show

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excerpts from the blog by Adam Curtis