Womex Award 2010
Danyèl Waro has remained faithful to the tradition of acoustic maloya, the blues of La Réunion, the volcanic island of the Indian Ocean, two cable lengths from Mauritius. There he is recognised as a hero. Musician and poet, he knows how to sing Creole with unparalleled emotion: “For me the maloya is first of all the word. I seek the cadence, the image, the rhythm in the word. Thanks to the maloya, I have stepped back from a connection to Cartesian philosophy and too conceptual judgements. The maloya has put me in harmony with La Réunion, with the people, with our language.”
Long obscured, the maloya was revived in the ’70s by the independence movements, prior to the renaissance of the ’80s. And Danyèl Waro with his talent enables the maloya to find again its original meaning and bear a message of revolt, hope and courage in raising awareness of many in La Réunion of the importance of their cultural heritage.
Danyèl Waro carves his words with the same care, the same love of things well done, with which he crafts his instruments: the kayanm, a flat instrument manufactured from stems of cane flowers and filled with wild saffron seeds; the bobre, made of a cord suspended on a bow with a calabash as resonance chamber and the roulèr, a large drum made from a rum barrel over which is stretched a cow-skin.
In Creole and from the deep heart of the drums, he denounces the new forms of dependency that tie the islands to the French state. As a journalist wrote (Richard Robert, in Les Inrockuptibles): “The abrupt rage, the sharp wisdom of his texts, marry together in a form of trance which is not manifested as an escape, a controlled voluntary forfeit of the spirit and the senses, but on the contrary as the search for a superior vision, uniting in the same impetus the thought, the word and the gesture.”
Eternally insubordinate, Danyèl Waro puts forward his batarsité, the title of one of his emblematic songs written in 1987. Neither white nor black, the Réunion Islander is tortiyé kaf m malbar (“mixed black, white, Indian”): If the search for his origins leads to an impasse, the sum of all these mixtures is his strength.
“Even since 1994 when he burst into the world music scene with one of his landmark songs “Adékalom”, Danyel Waro has been a glittering presence with his limpid and uncompromising maloya blues. Now his first album in seven years “Monmon” takes his music into another plane. Essentially stripped down to his uniquely sharp voice, a call-and-response chorus, comgas and kayamb percussions, the Réunionnais singer toys with Indian Ocean melodies and rhythms from as far afield as India (…) It’s a masterclass in 11 lessons, honouring the diversity of his island community.” Africa Reviews
“Waro’s music haunts and insinuates its way into the listeners unconscious” FRoots
“Quite simply the best world-music release of the year” The Sunday Times
“Danyel Waro’s “Monmon” at the top of the July 2017 Transglobal World Music Chart” World Music Central.org
Sega, a traditional Indian Ocean dance rhythm, is internationally known, but few people outside the island of Reunion have heard of maloya. Maloya is a compound rhythm on which plantation workers have long been singing their joys and woes. It’s a sort of réunionese blues.
Danyèl Waro, living in the middle of sugarcane fields high up in Saint-Paul, is probably the most famous maloya singer of the island, singing maloya in creole and with traditional instruments : kayanm, flat instrument made from cane flower stems and filled with saffron seeds ; bob (called birimbau in Brazil), a musical bow attached to a calabash for resonance; rouler (literally, “rollers” big drum made from barrels with a cowskin head, in short, all the traditional maloya instruments. «For me, maloya is first of all the word». Indeed, his songs border on poetry. He speaks of love death or politics, using a popular, peasant vocabulary that his urban listeners have often forgotten. He creates unexpected, beautiful and powerful imagery and, most importantly, feels the convergence between words and music that makes great songs.
Philippe Conrath, whose Cobalt label has released Danyèl Waro’s music for the past ten years, writes “If Danyèl Waro always wanted to remain free and to lead his career to his own rhythm – a rhythm embedded in the earth, in the good son of a farmer who knew the work of the fields from a tender age – he has nevertheless, in the course of these last fifteen years, played at the biggest European festivals.”
Danyèl Waro “A part of his professional history begins elsewhere in Berlin, at the Tempodrom in 1996, in the framework of the Heimatklänge festival whose artistic director had discovered him at the festival Africolor in Paris in December 1995. It’s in Berlin where he records a live album “Foutan Fonnkér”, which becomes a revelation in France, a CD which will go on to sell fifteen thousand copies in La Réunion (amongst a population at the time of 750,000 inhabitants!).”
“The journey may seem slow until this WOMEX Artist Award 2010, an award that he will receive almost ten years after his favourite artist Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, but it is exemplary because Danyèl Waro has never made even the slightest compromise during all these years, nor at any time in his life. At the age of twenty, he spent two years in prison in France for refusing military service.”
Danyèl Waro “Danyèl Waro has remained faithful to the tradition of acoustic maloya, the blues of La Réunion, the volcanic island of the Indian Ocean, two cable lengths from Mauritius. There he is recognised as a hero. Musician and poet, he knows how to sing Creole with unparalleled emotion: ‘For me the maloya is first of all the word. I seek the cadence, the image, the rhythm in the word. Thanks to the maloya, I have stepped back from a connection to Cartesian philosophy and too conceptual judgments. The maloya has put me in harmony with La Réunion, with the people, with our language’.”
“Long obscured, the maloya was revived in the 1970s by the independence movements, prior to the renaissance of the 1980s. And Danyèl Waro with his talent enables the maloya to find again its original meaning and bear a message of revolt, hope and courage in raising awareness of many in La Réunion of the importance of their cultural heritage.” A special musician, singer, activist and poet who has fought, for decades, to revive a musical treasure from the Indian Ocean and who has popularised its pearls on an international level. WOMEX feels honoured that Danyèl Waro has accepted this Award…
Banned for a long time, Maloya (the musical style mixing African, Madagascan and Indian origins) was adopted in the 70s by the movements for independence before truly re-emerging in the 80s. Danyel Waro is one of the main protagonists of this renaissance. Through his music, he has awakened an awareness of their cultural heritage’s importance with many of his compatriots from the Reunion Islands (lost in wanderings through jazz, zouk and reggae). For example, the musician René Lacaille willingly explains that it was while attending Danyel Waro’s concert at the French festival “Printemps de Bourges” that he was brutally thrown back in touch with his roots.
At over fifty years of age, he has left jazz to take up the music of his childhood once again. And he is not the only person who has retrieved a sense of pride in his origins thanks to Danyel’s music.
A man of commitment and integrity, Danyel Waro does not dissolve in warm water. He does not appreciate triteness (“The sega became easy listening music”), preferring an almost rough-edged straight to the point attitude. His rare recordings are only of the music he loves, the rest of the time he spends growing his crops. “I don’t want any promotion”, he explained in an interview in 1992. “Promotion of Maloya, why not ? but not through me. People here don’t understand where I’m coming from, they think I should have lots of money for singing, but I’m not interested in that : my work is making instruments”. He chooses his words with the same attention, the same love of things well-done with which he puts the finishing touches to his kayams, roulérs and pikérs (traditional percussion instruments), while the Creole language flies away on the drums denouncing the new forms of dependency still tying the islands to metropolitan France. Ever the rebel (he spent two years in prison rather than serve the French flag), Danyel Waro is a man who fights against social injustice and defends his culture. A free man, and an angry man.
Monmon • Cobalt / BUDA Music / Believe • 2017
Kabar • Cobalt • 2012
Aou Amwin • Cobalt • 2009
Grin N Syel • Cobalt • 2005
Bwarouz • Cobalt • 2002
Danyel WARO • Lyrics, Percussions
Mika TALPOT • Lyrics,Percussions
Stephane GAZE • Lyrics, Percussions
Gilles LAURET • Lyrics, Percussions
Jean Didier HOAREAU • Lyrics, Percussions