I'm afraid I'm in the position of the proverbial art gallery patron who was heard to exclaim "I may not know much about art, but I know what I like." I'll be the first to admit that I don't know a whole lot about African traditional music, especially its regional variations in areas such as the small nation of Cameroon. Fortunately most of the songs on this release, while they contain traditional elements, are really the stuff of popular music in the new genre, World Music. The music has a familiar ring to it.
If we forget hokey adventure movies featuring lots of frantic drumming and chanting, I suppose my first exposure to African music came almost sixty years ago, when my parents were listening to Americanized versions of African songs such as The Weavers' "Wimoweh" released in 1952. A decade later, artists like Miriam Makeba and Hugh Masekela brought African music to North American airwaves and, pop songs like Millie Small's hit "My Boy Lollipop" introduced the rhythm of Ska to teens around the world. Since then, I've discovered the African elements that have influenced Jazz, Blues, and Rock & Roll Music over the decades.
Sally Nyolo is a Cameroon expatriate who had moved with her family when she was 13 to live in Paris. In Paris, she built a career first as a back-up singer and then as lead singer and finally headliner. Her work with the group Zap Mama and as a solo act earned her a degree of stardom in both Europe and America. Drawing upon her success as a proponent of African music to the world, Nyolo returned to her native Cameroon with the goal to develop the local music scene. There she set up a modest studio and sought out talented musicians across the nation. This compilation is the result.
With tracks by thirteen separate artists plus one by Nyolo herself, it would be difficult to comment on the tracks individually. Separately and together, these songs exhibit a very high quality of musicianship that's a joy to hear. This bright, lively music can't help but have a cheering influence on the listener. The high quality of the recordings belies the promotional tale that Nyolo had set up her recording studio in "a modest tin-roofed building" so that she could meet with her musicians in a relaxed environment.