RFI Discoveries Award 2011
Mao Otayeck (Ivory Coast)
The Ivoirian guitarist and band leader, Mao Otayeck, who has played alongside some of the great names in music and authored a first album entitled Yeredon, was one of the finalists of the RFI Découvertes Awards once again this year.
For connoisseurs, Mao Otayeck is not an unknown. The artist, who is of Lebanese origin but was born in Côte d’Ivoire, met Cheick Tidiane Seck and Tony Allen at the start of the nineties and started up his professional music career with them.
Between 1993 and 2003, he worked for the Ivoirian reggae man Alpha Blondy and his Solar System, where he played guitar and led the band. In 2005, Stevie Wonder heard his track Renewal – a hymn for peace that Mao Otayek composed and interpreted in Wolof and English. It was the start of an artistic partnership that saw Mao play at Paris-Bercy on 28 September 2008 playing a duet with the master of American soul.
Currently living in Dakar with his family, Mao Otayeck pursues his career as a “lead”. The musician aims to promote Yeredon, which compiles different styles like pop, reggae and soul, as well as Mandinka rhythms, all sung in Wolof, French, English and Bambara. The guitar has been his passion since the age of nine, and has always been his favourite instrument, but on his new album it is his voice and his personal creation that stand out, like on the tracks Sene and Suruku.
Translation: Anne-Marie Harper