Meiway & Zo Gang

Côte d'Ivoire

Biography :

Frédéric Ehui Désiré, alias Meiway, was born in Côte d’Ivoire in 1962. Today he is a musician, composer, performer, arrange, producer and, above all, inventor of zoblazo, a musical style famous on every African dance floor. But let’s go back to the beginning.

As a child, he grew up hearing percussions from the Bassamoi ethnic group, his father’s accordion and his mother’s voice. Both parents were amateur musicians. How could young Frédéric avoid singing at church from a very early age? For years, he was involved with his parish choir. Meanwhile, he joined Pace, a musical group at his school, along with other groups, including Lynx and Group. In 1978, Pace won the national Podium award.

Frédéric, who had become Meiway, saw his career take off at that time. He launched his own group, Les Génitaux (sometimes written Génitos) and again won a Podium award, in 1981. The group toured all over Côte d’Ivoire while Meiway continued his studies in Abidjan. Four years later, he left for France to deepen his musical knowledge. He started a new group, called Défense d’Ivoire with musicians from sub-Saharan Africa, Algeria and France. The group achieved a certain success. In 1989, he brought out his first album, titled Ayibebou, which quickly blanketed French-speaking Africa. He then began a tour of West Africa with his new group, Zo Gang, and was honoured as best Ivoirian singer in 1990. The initial album showed the tenets of zoblazo, a style based on percussions providing a dance beat that blends musical styles from southern Côte d’Ivoire and from Ghana. The custom is to dance to this music with a white handkerchief as a sign of joy and purity.

In 1991, the second album came out, titled 200% Zoblazo. Success spread beyond African boundaries, reaching all of Europe and Canada. Nine more albums followed, including Hold Up in 1998. There also followed a South African Kora award for best West African artist and long world tours that gave tens of thousands of people the chance to shake their bodies to zoblazo, a frenetic and irresistible beat.

Meiway & Zo Gang

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