Henri Dikongué
From Law School to Lush Melodies
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• African Music
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• Afro-Pop Goes Acoustic
• Article on Henri Dikongué at Rootsworld
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If Henri Dikongé did not change his mind about a law career, the World of music would not have had the opportunity to hear his acoustic, sensitive, often socially aware compositions. The singer/songwriter, who hails from Cameroon, has two releases on Tinder Records - his acclaimed debut album C'est La Vie, which as the title implies, contains songs about life, love and fatherhood (Dikongué became a father for the first time as he was writing the songs for the album), and his second release Mot'a Bobe, an album that goes even deeper intellectually with a blend of African, Cairbbean and European styles with lyrics that reflect Dikongués astute observations on the world and politics. Both albums feature Dikongué's exceptional acoustic guitar playing and sensitive vocal style.

"I believed between music and being a lawyer that I was defending two ways of getting the message through," says Dikongué through the translation of Sandrine DiRienzo, owner of Tinder Records. "But I realized at one point that music would make me do that a lot easier and softer. Music is such a wonderful way to really say what you really have to say and I am lucky enough to be able to do that."

Henri is inspired to use many cultural influences, like French Chanson and traditional African sounds, in his music because, "when I was growing up I used to listen to a lot of different kinds of music. This is just the way I was brought up." There is definitely a more serious feel to Mot'a Bobe. Whereas C'est La Vie dealt with universal themes like life and love, Mot'a Bobe delves into problems of the World such as war, famine and racism.

"When I did C'est la vie it was about life and love. I was a father for the first time. When I was ready to work on Mot'a Bobe I was thinking more about the way people and the government and everything are - that we all have to look alike and act the same. I was thinking of nostalgia for people who leave a country and leave everything behind, and mostly about everything happening in the World today."

Dikongué writes mostly from his own observations rather than what is presented in the media through television and newspapers, because he explains that "I don't believe in newspapers or tv. All of the media just let you hear what you want to hear or what you can hear. They don't really tell you what is happening. Because I travel a lot I like to see what is really happening everywhere I go and that is where I get everything that I want to talk and write about. I want to shock people in a sense that they need to react."

As for his goals, Henri hopes to "be able to show people that African music not just a danceable music but there is a lot of different kinds of African music. Back home, there are people playing a lot of different music a lot of different ways and they have a message going across to people."

Henri Dikongué