London August 19 2008
Cupid’s arrow once was poored into the nectar of Celtic Music, travelled far and hit the Rain Forests of Cameroon. The creation of a nice melting pot was fact: Fusion/ Folk Vocalist Su Hart, born in
Newcastle started the group Baka Beyond to work on an Afro-Celtic cross over in the early 90s. Later on Cameroonian, Senegalese and other West-African musicians joined and now the formation is a phenomenon in World music.
Su Hart and the adventurous Baka project
Some instruments clearly influence their sound: Kora, Djembé, Marimba, Soga and so forth. Actually, after recording songs
in their studio, Su and Martin Craddick, her husband, returned to Cameroon to remake them, this time with native musicians.
What kind of person is behind this whole idea? Su Hart, an Oxford Art School graduate, is a colourful woman who cooperated
with several musicians, not only in Africa, but in the Far East and in both Anglo Saxon and Latin America as well. Su Hart has improvised in Jam Sessions and turned some results of these into elaborated songs. Her playground is on both sides of the Atlantic.
In Edmonton, Alberta Su made it to the Folk Festival. Leon Hunt (banjo) Tim Edey (chordeon) and guitarists like Ed Boyd and Sarah Elliot are just some of the names that go with her curriculum.
album to be expected
Her next Album (release expected by December 1st 2008) stretches out from “lovey dovey folk” to “quirkey calypso” according to the announcement at Hart’s Myspace.com
pages. She practices both romanticism (“lament of the Fisherman’s wife”) and societal & political engagement (“the Power of prayer”) and sings over arranges that sometimes would fit a lounge where we feel
at ease. An example: “Listen to me”, written by Lucy White: this song intertwines the mystical signature of Celticism with a flavour of Reggae and wow wow Guitar.
Sue’s solo album is realized a.o.
by the forces of Eleanor Churchlow and Ayodele Scott, both Baka Beyond musicians. Baka Beyond definitely has meant an extension of sound scala, just check out the performance at Zodiac, Oxord (You Tube) with a Violin solo tickling in addition to a
tropical rhythmic section, a lively example.
2002 Baka Beyond’s album “East to west” became a world wide success.
the merits of Seckou Keita
It proves that Baka Beyond fits the challenge and Su Hart easily fits in the formula. Some of the guys brought good qualities from Cameroon with them. A true legend – to me there seems no doubt - is a young Senegalese member: Seckou Keita, playing
the Kora. He succeeded well in inserting his play into styles in different countries without losing the essentials of it. He played with people from India to Norway. The Kora styles nicely merge with northern Folk traditions. In fact the genre from the Casamance
area has the merit of being quite rocky.
Keita’s CD “Silimbo Passage” was released this summer. In 2001 he made an album with Craddick and Nii Tagou, a nice young percussionist (a.o. djembé). Title of this album:
Eté (“Summer”). A visit to the UK took place in 2006 and I was happy to be there! The incentive sounds of these guys remind me of their home land (pity I’ve only been there once) and the group’s name is after Baka
(region in South Eastern Cameroon). What strikes me is the sense of rhythm they have and besides souple vocality. Good enough for some of the big festivals.
Keith L. Chester