Spreading the love
The women of Zap Mama fight the good fight through music
Zap Mama is a group of five women who occupy a unique niche in the genre of world music. Marie Daulne, the group’s founder and leader, was born in Zaire, but she grew up in Paris. Her background inclines her to think of herself as a citizen of the world. Her lovely French accent gives voice and authenticity to her commitment to what she calls “internationalism.”
“I am part of a nation,” she said by phone during a break from a tour date in New York, “but I don’t want to fight for a nation; I want to fight for this earth. I want to represent an internationalist attitude with music that lets me fight for one love, and not one country. Music crosses all borders.”
Zap Mama plays Afro-European music of a kind you’re just as likely to hear in Paris as you are in Zimbabwe, a blend of sounds from across the globe, from the Congo to Cuba, and from the Mississippi delta to the dance clubs of Marseilles.
The group’s current tour is in support of the new album—Supermoon—the cover of which is adorned with a close-up glam shot of Ms. Daulne. But look beyond the fashion-shoot cover and you’ll find the beating heart of a woman whose songs break barriers to proclaim our common humanity.
No song on the new album does that more than ‘Princesse Kesia,” which she wrote ‘as a ritual” to say goodbye to her daughter’s childhood. It’s the kind of song any parent on the planet will understand. In it, the mother sings: ‘It’s time to say goodbye to the little girl / bye bye to the little one / hello to the beautiful girl.”
When Daulne speaks of her daughter, the emotion travels from New York to California, and the sentiment is universal.
‘It is the time for her and me to have a recognition,” Daulne said. ‘I’m happy to welcome her as a teenager, but the little girl is gone. And I had to make a ritual about it, because it is an important moment.”
She said the performance will feature new songs from Supermoon, but lots of older material, too, dating to the group’s 1990 debut, Adventures in Afropea.
On stage, Zap Mama is known for extraordinary displays of acrobatics, an activity Daulne still engages in.
‘Sometimes I want to be elegant, so I have to change costumes, but acrobatics are part of me,” she said. ‘I started as an acrobat. The acrobatics, the dancing and the singing all go together.”
For those who have never heard Zap Mama, the show will be a good introduction to Afro-European music, as well as the positive force the group exudes.
‘The media bring us such negative manipulation each day. I refuse to accept the bad thoughts,” Daulne said. ‘We all must resist manipulations to find our way to the good part. Affection is everywhere, and when you give it, you receive it back. You increase the good part of you and it’s easy to be happy this way. Zap Mama’s music is all about spreading the affection.”
If you’re weary of the world vision of constant fear, enmity and paranoia, you might want a redemptive ray of hope and humanity. You might want to substitute the zeitgeist of xenophobia with a healing dose of Zap Mama. Or you might just want to get over the midweek hump to help you sail more joyfully toward the weekend.
Whatever the cause, if your spirit needs energizing, then Laxson Auditorium is the place, and next Wednesday night is the time for your soul to get zapped.