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Music Review: Zap Mama – Supermoon

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Marie Daulne, creator and driving force of the musical entity known as Zap Mama, has been recording and performing music for over 15 years. Born in the Congo to an African mother and Belgian father and raised primarily in Belgium, Daulne embodies the Afro-European energy of Zap Mama's musical creations. In a recent press release she recalls, "My early childhood was filled with the music of my mother, the music of the Congo… when I was growing up in Belgium… we heard a lot of French music [on the radio]. And of course, American music was also very popular all over Europe."

In her late teens Daulne made a pilgrimage back to the Congo and decided to become a musician. "…I was standing in the middle of the forest, hearing the music that had been a part of my earliest memories, and it was like an illumination, like a light." In 1990 the first incarnation of Zap Mama was born and Afropea reached #1 on the Billboard World Music Charts.

Dualne's highly personal sixth album Supermoon is her response to our cultural obsession with superstars. "I say let's be ourselves, and let's create a word for what it means to be ourselves. A 'supermoon' is a unique person. You can be a supermoon if you follow your own desires and pursue the things that you were born to do. To be a supermoon is to be true to yourself and others."

As opposed to her earlier work where Dualne brought together other women to sing with her, this album is all about Dualne. Written and vocalized by Dualne herself, each song in "Supermoon" helps weave a tapestry of musical styles, cultures, and in the end the artist herself. "I'm opening a door to who I am," says Dualne. Dipping as always into many styles including Afropop, American R&B, reggae, hip-hop, and funk along with a slew of top drawer musicians such as Me'shell N'degeocello, Tony Allen, and David Gilmore (who each pop in for exactly one song), Daulne offers an astonishing array of world music.

Who else can borrow James Brown's famous guitar riff from "Payback" and turn African pygmy music into the club anthem of "Gati" without missing a beat?  She tells us stories of African immigrants, of human relationships, of schoolyard games and rivalries.  And in the end she tells us about ourselves.  Intricate vocals, polyrhythmic beats, and deeply moving stories to tell. This may well be the best Zap Mama yet!

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About Lynda Lippin