Meiway & Zo Gang
Frédéric Ehui Désiré, alias Meiway, was born in Côte d’Ivoire in 1962. Today he is a musician, composer, performer, arrangers, producer and, above all, inventor of zoblazo, a musical style famous on every African dance floor. But let’s start at the beginning. As a child, he was cradled to the sound of percussions of the Bassamois ethnic group as well as by his father’s accordion and his mother’s voice. Both parents were amateur musicians. How, then, could little Frédéric not sing at church from an early age? For years, he participated in his parish choir. Meanwhile, he joined a group at his high school, Pace, as well as other groups such as Lynx or Group. In 1978, Pace won Côte d’Ivoire’s Podium award.
Frédéric, who became Meiway, got off the ground at this point. He chose to launch his own group, Les Génitaux (sometimes written Génitos) and again won the Podium award, in 1981. The group toured all over Côte d’Ivoire while Meiway pursued his studies in Abidjan. Four years later, he headed to France to extend his musical knowledge. He set up a new group, called Défense d’Ivoire, with musicians from sub-Saharan Africa, Algeria and France, achieving a certain success.
In 1989, Meiway brought out its first album, titled Ayibebou, which quickly took off in all of French-speaking Africa. He then began a West African tour with his new group, Zo Gang, and received the title of top Ivorian singer in 1990. This album shows the beginnings of zoblazo, a percussion-based style that provides a dance beat, blending the musical styles of the south of Côte d’Ivoire and of Ghana. It is customary to dance to this music with a white handkerchief as a sign of joy and purity.
In 1991, the second album came out, 200% Zoblazo. Its success went beyond African borders to reach all of Europe as well as Canada. Nine more albums followed, including Hold Up in 1998, a winner of the South African Kora award for top West African artist, and M20 – 1,000% Zoblazo in 2009, the artist’s 10th album. To mark the 20th anniversary of his career, Meiway was named a Commander in the Ivorian order of cultural merit and ambassador of Grand-Bassam, a UNESCO world heritage site.
In 2012, the album Professeur was released, with some tracks taking on a serious tone, in reference to the consequences of the civil war that was tearing Côte d’Ivoire apart. The same year, he took part in the “National Peace Awareness Caravan” and travelled across the country in the company of Tiken Jah Fakoly, Alpha Blondy and Magic System. Recognized internationally, Meiway is working on a new album and is continuing his world tours, giving thousands of people the chance to get shaking to zoblazo, a frenetic and irresistible beat.
Meiway & Zo Gang
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