Pape Val passed away Wednesday November 2 in Dakar, and has lived more than fifty years of music. The Witness pays homage to him with a script gifted to him in January 2019 by our colleague Amadou Bator Dieng, kirinapost editor-in-chief and African music correspondent.
His delicious music has been rocking Senegalese music lovers since the mid-60s and has never aged. Pape Fall is now one of the symbols of salsa in Senegal.
Music history teaches us that myths are often fickle, changing, and sometimes uncontrollable. So we always worry about meeting one of them, once we get the appointment from the manager.
On a Saturday afternoon in the district of Nyai-Teuch where he belongs. Niaye Thioker is an enclave located between the Sandaga large market, in the heart of downtown Dakar, and the administrative city of Plateau. Crowded and crowded neighborhood. It’s five in the evening. The city is turbulent as usual. Bbby Vale has a phone call to report his situation and we’re reunited. “Let’s find a quiet place where we can talk,” he said softly, shaking my hand.
The guy is courteous and composure. Like the Shepherds, he is a rarity of tenderness and elegance. It’s not like salsero sauce… We walk our way through the stalls and shops of the famous Sandaga market. From time to time, he stops chatting with a fan that he recognizes. Always the same literature. A few minutes’ walk away, and a few friendly clicks here and there, we’re sitting in a welcoming café on André Peytavin Street.
From the beginning of our discussion, the artist plunges us into his childhood world – to speak like Senghor – in order to explain how the singing virus caused his sting.
“When I was a child, I would go to the fields not far from Rovisk. It was hard to work in the fields, and to give each other some courage, we sang and the songs that my parents listened to on the radio hit me. From here it all begins. Filaos trees, evergreens helped me which can reach 35 meters in height, a lot, because for practice, I took their tops as spectators and did everything until they heard me,” Salcero recalls with a smile. Which is why, according to him, he never experienced “the loss or loss of voice that affects so many artists.”
Unfortunately, his parents do not want him to sing, but to study and become a government employee. From this refusal a game of hide-and-seek was born between the budding singer and his father. He remembers it in 1966, when he first became involved with the Dakar Rhythm ensemble – which he left to join the African Jazz. – He did everything to sing without straining his vocal cords too much… so as not to break in his voice. Otherwise, how does he explain to his parents the day after the performances?
“All this will be useful to me later. These moments have brought me a lot in terms of sound technology,” he says.
How did this monster fall into the world of salsa?
“My cousin was a record dealer and I was hanging out in the store drinking vinyls set on the famous Teppaz (the first French brand record player, editor’s note).
When a piece of salsa was played, I was drawn to the rhythm and especially the Spanish language. I systematically translated the words into French for better understanding, so much so that in college (he attended Pape Gueye Fall School), I didn’t hesitate for a second to choose Spanish as a second language. This choice will be really useful for me later,” explains the man who sings in Spanish as well as in Wolof.
Time is running. Already an hour we are discussing randomly. The artist looks at his watch from time to time. “I watch the time of prayer. Giving thanks to the Lord is very important in my life,” he whispers to me. Pape Val remained very religious and very spiritual.
“It was a promise I made to myself: I will be an artist, but I will not turn into alcoholism as was the fashion at the time. I do not even smoke cigarettes. These are simple principles of life, but what a great importance to me ”the singer believes convinced that the artist He must maintain a dose of clarity so that he can educate and raise awareness. “Dance, laughter, this is good and we really need it, but we must not forget to raise awareness,” says the writer, whose songs revolve around social issues (family, solidarity, patriotism, tolerance, work).
Since its inception, the author of “La Mujer” has not shied away from his behavior. This may partly explain its longevity. But let’s go back to his story: when he was installed into the Lower Orchestra as singer in 1968, his career took a critical turn.
They say the opportunity does not exist. Papa Val’s older brother is a close friend of Salcero’s greatest of the time: Lapa Susé (1943-2007). The interpreter of “El Manisero” frequents the family home. One day, in 1971, Lapa – at the height of his art – returned from Abidjan with five musicians of different nationalities in his bags. During one evening, the Pope invited the young man to go up on the stage where he would sing “Guantanamera”. The audience is intrigued. At the end of the offer, Lapa wants to pay him, but he refuses. “Playing against Lapa Souce and having him describe me as a good singer was more rewarding than salary. At that time, we wanted to learn and perfect our art. Earning money came after that. I was barely 23 years old.”
The next day, Lapa Suseh arrived at his parents’ house to persuade them to let the young man sing. The latter responds to his request and entrusts to him their offspring. This is how he joined the Vedette Band Lapa Souce. The two men will never leave each other, and even if their paths are momentarily cut off, they will later meet in the Dakar Star Ensemble of the late Ibra Cassie.
“Lapa Suseh taught me everything. I traveled with him everywhere. He is my master and my reference in this matter,” he explains with much emotion.
In Cassie, Babi Val shares the stage with Mar Sik and a weak boy named Yossou N’Dour, among others
“It was such a fun time. We were 4 or 5 lead vocals taking turns on the mic. Each had one or two songs and the rest of the time, we were backing vocals for the others. These are moments that teach you to be tolerant, to know how to participate and above all to understand that the intense competition Among the artists is meaningless.
In 1980, Pape Vale left Starr to form his own group, Ensemble Africa, which later became the manager of the Dakar. With this group, he released his first cassette, Nago. In 1984, a return to the Star Band and a new collaboration with Ibra Cassie, the father of modern Senegalese music and owner of Miami Night-Club. He remained with the Star Band even after the orchestra’s founding father passed away in 1992.
Meanwhile, in the ’80s, Youssef N’Dour and his devastated country went through it, imposing music with more local dialects and banishing all this music of Latin origin to the background. The Super Étoile captain is the bridgehead of this new generation, helped by the Super Diamono of Omar Penny among others. It wasn’t until 1995 when Pape Fall took his fate into his own hands and created his new collection: African Salsa.
The aroma of Latin music is taking on new colors (Afrikando was then a huge hit in the world), it offers a delicious blend of salsa and Senegal sounds. Mayonnaise takes hold, and Rufisquois instantly finds an important place in this new Senegalese music scene. Fueled by hits like “Coumba Lamba” (a tribute to the protective genius of Rufisque, his hometown) or “Fonkal sa seuy”, his evenings are always full and his schedule is very busy.
Thus, with Afrikando and Lorchestra Baobab, Pape Vale has largely played its part to give a second life to salsa in Senegal and Africa. Today, despite his status and his 71 years, Pape is still hungry, on top of that a new album will be released soon and he still has plenty of other projects on the go. “I’ve already written the lyrics for an upcoming album. I can say it’s ready, I’m talking with my colleagues and with my older brother Bala Sidibe (one of the vocals of the Baobab group, editor’s note) to choose the right moment “the artist informs. This last sentence gives you a lot of information about a man’s humility, no doubt another reason for his longevity.
“There is no end to learning. Pala Sidibe, for example, is my older brother. When he is not on tour with the baobab, he comes to accompany me on my performances and his advice is always useful ”explains the maestro.
The call to the muezzin interrupts our succulent discussion. So it’s time to release our prestigious host. An artist of exceptional proportions and boundless wisdom. Man, every word sounds like a life lesson. His name: Pope Val!
+ This text was published on January 9, 2019 on Pan –
By Amadou Bator Deng
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