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Coco Mbassi

Coco is a highly accomplished singer, composer and arranger whose home country is Cameroon. While growing up there, Coco began singing in public from the tender age of seven. She entered local talent contests and won them with ease.
Moving to France in the 1990s aged 13, Coco went to school and university in Paris and gained a postgraduate degree in language translation.
Coco was a member of an African gospel choir called The Cherubs from 1990 to 1996. Based in Paris, Coco also started using her singing talent as a backing singer for some of the well known African music stars: Salif Keita (with whom she toured for 2 years), Toure Kunda, Oumou Sangare and Manu Dibango as well as some international singers like Dee Dee Bridgewater and Demis Roussos. Hence Coco has travelled all over the world.
Coco’s own albums to date are Sepia (2001) and Sisea (2003). Coco is married to Serge Ngando-Mpondo, a guitarist and bassist. Serge plays on many of the songs on Coco’s recordings, they worked on many of the arrangements together and he plays in her band as well. One of the tracks on Sisea is entitled 'Kaweyabe', a contraction of her 2 sons’ names. You could say it’s a family affair: the 2 boys also feature on 'Ombwa Te'! Coco pays tribute to her ancestors in the song 'Ndum' as her parents were of noble descent.
Coco sings backing vocals on Anne-Marie Nzié’s CD Beza Ba Dzo (1999) and on Richard Bona’s CD Munia (2003). Manu Dibango and Richard Bona are guest musicians on Sisea: Coco and Richard co-wrote 'Dube' and Richard is also guitarist on that track, while Manu Dibango plays marimbas on 'Ascensor da Bica'.
Coco’s songs feature on several compilation CDs, for example 'D' is on Colours of Africa and 'Muenge
Mwa Ndolo' is on Putumayo’s Women of Spirit.
In 1996 Coco was the winner of the prestigious ‘Discovery’ prize of Radio

France International for her song ‘Muenge Mwa Ndolo’. This was just the beginning of her awards and nominations. She went on to receive the German Critics Award for her first solo album, Sepia and was nominated in the Newcomer category in the BBC Radio 3 World Music Awards in 2003.
Coco has performed notably at the Hot Brass Club in Paris has been on stage at many international festivals in Europe, Canada and USA, for example WOMAD Reading in 2002, Musiques Metisses in France, Louisiana International Festival in USA and Afroprojekt in Würtzburg, Germany. For the immediate future Coco’s plans include visits to Cameroon, Ireland and Germany.
Coco has sometimes been involved in musical projects in other styles, such as the ecological cantata ‘Memoire D’Eau’ at the Auvers sur Oise festival in France in 2000.
Listening to Coco's albums you’ll hear lots of classical and jazz elements. A fascinating DVD entitled Coco Mbassi Tour is now available. It contains interviews, concert footage from Germany and Douala and a visit to Coco's village in Cameroon. Buy it on line at Coco describes her music as a tree with African roots and branches that spread to many other places – may that tree flourish! For further updates keep checking Coco’s own web site: