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Zap Mama: All They Need, Their Voice!

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Zap Mama is a Belgian female a cappella quintet headed and established by the Zairian Marie Daulne. Due to the assassination of her father, her family had to escape during the Belgian revolution. She grew up in Europe but moved to Africa because she wanted to learn about the traditions of her family. In Africa she learned the onomatopoeic vocal techniques of the pygmies, the tribe that gave refugee to her family while escaping from the civil war. Once she returned from Africa, she formed the group Zap Mama which combines some elements form theater with sounds and rhythms form other cultures. No music other than their own voices is needed.

Zap Mama released her first album in 1991. It encompassed pygmy and Spanish ancient chants, Zairian and African popular songs as well as some songs with evident Arabic influence. The album was not as successful as their presentations were. What they could do with their voices and bodies not only caught the European audiences but also captured their hearts. With a new label, Luaka Bop, the singer David Byrne re-released the album, now with the name Adventures in Afropea I. This time the album became a real success, especially in the United States where it was the best sold album in the category of world music as said by Billboard and the biggest-selling album of Luaka Bop Records.

Zap Mama’s next release was called Sabsylma, and in spite of maintaining their roots and traditional sounds of cultures like Morocco, Australia and India, it included more American elements to this work. In 1997, the album 7 was released. This one has an even more western sound backing up by instruments for the first time and counted on the collaboration of the rappers Wathanga Rema, Michael Franti and U-Roy. The next year they lunched their next album “A Ma Zone". They participated in the soundtrack for Mission Impossible 2 and the Wired CD.

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