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Coco Mbassi

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Coco Mbassi is a relative newcomer to the African vocal diva scene, despite spending a good deal of time working within the field, both in local markets and the world stage. Making her first steps in 1970s Cameroon, Mbassi won prizes in various competitions before her first decade. Moving to Paris in 1983, she had the opportunity to take part in a wider array of cultural activity, immersing herself thoroughly in the European dance and pop scenes in an attempt to assimilate to the dominant culture under pressure from racist movements. After a stint in this stage, she devoted more time to the rediscovery of African culture, expanding beyond the Cameroonian concepts to which she was accustomed. The '90s saw her working as a singer in a popular multicultural gospel group (owing in part to her devout Christianity, a mild rarity in central Africa) and taking the stage as a backup singer for a number of luminaries from both the African (Salif Keita, Touré Kunda, Manu Dibango, Oumou Sangaré) and Western (Dee Dee Bridgewater) scenes. Her first solo outing was a single in 1996 that won her sponsorship from Radio France, leading to the ability to record a full solo album. The birth of two children delayed the album's creation for a while; Sepia was released in 2003 and contains elements of jazz and classical music, and African ideals. ~ Adam Greenberg

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