As a teenager, Maya Kamaty (then known as Maya Pounia) did not expect to become a singer, although she had been raised by a musician father and storyteller mother. Nevertheless, the world of music and poetry that imbued her youth ended up winning her over. Her parents and the people around them (writers, singers and poets, including Alain Peters, along with the musicians in her father’s group, Ziskakan, one of the leading groups on the Réunion scene) gradually nurtured her imagination and sensibility. And in turn she finally took hold of the Creole language and of maloya, the traditional musical style of her native island, Réunion.
She had to go away in order to come back all the stronger: in 2006, she headed to Montpellier, in southern France, for studies in cultural mediation. Her physical distance added to her desire to turn the spotlight on Creole, a language that was long suppressed but defended by artists, in particular by her parents, who had always militated for its recognition. She made her stage debut and finally returned to live in Réunion, now knowing her path in life. She added the second given name Kamaty, to follow Maya, and founded her current group, whose songs gracefully mix maloya and contemporary folk.
She brought out her first album, Santié Papang, with songs in Creole as well as in French (the two tracks written by Mauritian poet Michel Ducasse), an album with traditional instruments embracing acoustic music and lyrics filled with history and imagination.
But now Maya Kamaty has chosen to leave aside the acoustics of this initial album and to alter her music profoundly: “It would have been too easy to redo Santié Papang. I need to expose myself to danger, to take risks.”
Maya Kamaty and her crew have found the right balance between organic and electronic. Their reinvented maloya no longer belongs only to Réunion but to the world as a whole. Be that as it may, the emotion remains in the pulsation, the messages in the images, the living strength of the Creole language.
With a second album, produced by Victor-Attila Vagh (who also worked with Flavia Coelho), comes a time for confirmation – or affirmation. With Pandiyé, this “woman, artist, Creole, daughter of …, woke and obstinate,” in her own words, found the sound that could carry her powerful voice – a voice that can blow cool or warm, capable of every variation. And it is with undisguised pleasure that she demonstrates this on stage.
Let it be said: Maya Kamaty is determined to carry far and wide the richness of her island’s sounds and to bring out today’s Creole word and soul in song, in her own way.