Home » today » Entertainment » “Nite”, the solar and poetic album of the actress Nathalie Vairac, and the singer and virtuoso of the Kora Ablaye Cissoko

“Nite”, the solar and poetic album of the actress Nathalie Vairac, and the singer and virtuoso of the Kora Ablaye Cissoko

As always with the Beings who walk, in search of inner balance and harmony, which is of course the case for Nathalie Vairac and Ablaye Cissoko in their respective daily lives, it is not the goal to be reached that takes precedence, but well the path that we walk, with its steep paths and steep slopes. A path made of encounters, in particular with people whose need to exchange sometimes requires support. This is one of the reasons that prompted Nathalie Vairac and Ablaye Cissoko to bring together in this album the fruit of their collaborations. In doing so, they make us (re)discover the depth and richness of each of the 12 tracks on this album with accents of Mandinka blues, which readily recalls the late Malian singer and guitarist Ali Farka Touré!

Listen to “Marcher”, first title of the album “Nite”, by Ablaye Cissoko & Nathalie Vairac”

This album, “Nite”, which, as Nathalie Vairac told us, “is pronounced Nité, as if there were an accent, and which in Wolof means the human, the person…”, does not carry this name by chance. In effect, ” this word, continues Nathalie Vairac, can also imply, according to the phrase: to take responsibility as a human being. So there you have it, it’s human duty. »

And if this title was chosen: ” It’s because, says Nathalie Vairac, I wrote a lot while in fact letting words, sentences spring out at night… And once I had reread everything, and everything was there, I realized that the word human came back in many pieces . And so I asked Ablaye how we translated human. I showed him that, I showed him that it was coming back. And I didn’t want to correct it just from a writing standpoint, which is not putting the same word back. But we said to ourselves: since it comes back, we leave it, and then it is important. I asked him to translate it into Wolof. Later a linguistics professor also translated, giving the deeper meaning. And it became “Nite”, which is the Wolof word which means human, humanity… At one point, we wanted to write it by playing on the word Huma – Nité. Then we left “Nite”, so there you go. »

Born to a Guadeloupean father and an Indian mother in a village in Bordeaux, it was in Paris that Nathalie Vairac perfected her acting talents, alongside internationally renowned mentors such as the late actors and screenwriters Sotigui Kouyaté (Mali – Burkina Faso) and Philippe Adrien (France). We are in the mid-1990s. And for ten years, it is in Africa that she has now spread her wings, especially in Dakar where she and her family settled six years ago. When she is not alongside her family, she performs on French national stages, at the Avignon festival, in the Caribbean and in Africa of course.

In 2019, she read Aimé Césaire’s political essays at the Panthéon. The following year, we find her at the National Theater of Brussels, in Belgium, in “The Supreme Remains” by the Rwandan actor, director and playwright Dorcy Rugamba. At the end of last year, she was on view at the Théâtre de la Tempête, in the Paris region, in « Love like a buried cathedral” by the Haitian writer, playwright and director Guy Regis Jr.

Listen to “Tourbillon”, second track from the album “Nite”, by Ablaye Cissoko & Nathalie Vairac”

Born Kimintang Mahamadou Cissoko, Ablaye Cissoko was born in the city of Kolda, in Casamance, in the south of Senegal. Descendant of a family of griots whose origins could date back to the 16th century, Ablaye Cissoko now lives in Saint-Louis du Senegal, his adopted city. Author-composer and performer, remarkable musician, he belongs to the very restricted circle of masters of the kora, in the same way as the Malians Toumani Diabaté and Ballaké Sissoko. A worthy heir to the traditions of the Mandinka people, Ablaye Cissoko today embodies one of the most harmonious syntheses between African music, jazz and classical music.

It is therefore quite natural that he has been performing for fifteen years on stages around the world, both solo and alongside internationally renowned artists such as his compatriot Omar Pène, the Moroccan multi-instrumentalist Majid Bekkas, saxophonist and pioneer of French free jazz François Jeanneau, French jazz drummer Simon Goubert and German trumpeter Volker Goetze. Ablaye Cissoko is the author of eleven albums in total, including three solo albums: Diam released in 2003, Le Griot Rouge released two years later and My roots released in 2013.

TV5MONDE : How was this album project born? Who had the idea?

Nathalie Vairac: Ablaye and I had been invited to participate in the first edition of the Saint-Louis Forum, which was held in 2017, in Saint-Louis, Senegal, at the initiative of Amadou Diaw, founder of the first school of private trade in Senegal. And it was the first time that I shared texts. A text that I had written with Ablaye, who had composed the music, on the kora.

Visual illustration of the eighth album track "Nite"by Ablaye Cissoko & Nathalie Vairac.

And following that, we were often invited to perform together, in the form of improvisation, or written text. And regularly, people asked us how they could listen to us again, how they could hear that at home. And the idea of ​​the album came like that, wanting to leave a trace of these collaborations that we had made in Saint-Louis, in Essaouira, in Morocco, in Berlin too, in Germany. There you go, it’s from there.

Ablaye Cissoko: I don’t know anymore, I have no more memory. But I know that we wanted to continue this beautiful thing that we found together, to be able to walk together, and share and also benefit people who love what we do. I don’t know how to answer this question. It’s as if I’ve known Nathalie for thousands of years, if not millions of years. And so, everything that comes from Nathalie or from me, becomes something very natural.

TV5MONDE: Nathalie Vairac, you are first and foremost an actress. How in this case does one approach the collaboration with a singer and virtuoso kora player like Ablaye Cissoko?

Nathalie Vairac: I would say, by listening to him, by being attentive, by humility. Letting the notes and the kora, which is an extraordinary instrument, also letting Ablaye, who is a profound musician, guide me. And by agreeing to let myself be carried away, to listen to a universe that I don’t know, and to listen to the work and the path of someone who has been walking for a very long time.

TV5MONDE: Ablaye Cissoko, as a songwriter and performer, how did you work with actress Nathalie Vairac?

Ablaye Cissoko: I don’t think I had to work, honestly. To be honest, did we rehearse things seriously? No no no ! I do not think so. So, Nathalie started on messages, texts, things like that, and I followed at the kora. And sometimes it was the other way around. I was starting something, and then Nathalie was talking and I was trying to interpret everything she said with the kora. So these are times…

Listen to “Mon enfant”, eighth title of the album “Nite”, by Ablaye Cissoko & Nathalie Vairac”

And these are always magical moments. And I also like this way of doing things where really, we are ourselves, we are whole. We’re not trying to calculate, or think, or please x or y. We know that there are words that need to come out, and Nathalie spells them out so well! Me, I just try to be there so that she doesn’t feel alone.

TV5MONDE: Exactly, can you reveal a little more about some aspects of the creative process of the texts and music that make up this superb album?

Nathalie Vairac: The texts often came at night, on subjects that touched us both. Either because the subject was proposed by Ablaye, or because it emerged like that, in the imagination, in the informal space of ideas. And so I wrote texts, then Ablaye listened to the texts and proposed a composition. And sometimes, his notes changed certain words, certain passages, even certain texts. Well, it was a meeting little by little, like something we would weave together.

Ablaye Cissoko: Nathalie has a way of writing that is unique, unique to her. And it’s true, we improvise a lot, and the words come out at the right time. It’s like people are waiting for those words, and so are we sometimes. And so, I am just the evolution of words. I hear and I understand, or I see the direction it is going to take. So automatically, it’s as if there was a connection of his voice with the kora, it mixes well. And so, suddenly, when it was time to put it in a box, that is to say to make the album, it was just necessary to write it and interpret it. And it was a success. In any case, I don’t need a lot of effort to accompany our Nathalie!

TV5MONDE: Nathalie Vairac, we hear you sing a little in this album, to tunes that notably recall your Indian origins. Is it Ablaye’s influence that led you to start singing like him on this album?

Nathalie Vairac: May be ! In fact, being in the presence of Ablaye is letting deep things emerge. And sometimes also, Ablaye, by playing with the kora, intentionally picks me up in unexpected areas for me, in unknown areas for me. It was also to leave complete freedom to be. Before each recording, we said to ourselves that everything is possible in fact, here it is, everything is possible. Even though I’m not a singer, there’s a place in my soul or my being that sings, and letting it go all the way.

TV5MONDE: What did you each take away from this experience and is there a sequel planned?

Nathalie Vairac: I would say that I learned to… My greatest joy is to tell myself that everything is possible, that we can bring together universes which, a priori, seem to walk separately; that we can dare to move and get out of our comfort zone. And that the meetings, the meeting, can be touching, deep and so initiating. Here is ! To be in the boutique’s studio, in Dakar, in Pape Armand’s studio, with Ablaye, was a profound, magical moment.

I’m as happy as Felwine Sarr [le fondateur du label Woti Production, NDLR]believed in this project.

Nathalie Vairac, co-author with Ablaye Cissoko, of the album “Nite”

I’m as happy as Felwine Sarr [le fondateur du label Woti Production, NDLR], believed in this project. So, those were moments of unique experiences, where I grew up a lot with them in what they deeply offered. And will there be a sequel? In any case, this project, we will do everything to shoot it. We presented it on stage in Dakar on December 17th. So there you have it, for now, there is something to keep this project alive and growing. Present it as often as possible on stage. Here, and then surely that then there will be… We don’t know, we don’t know… Here!

Ablaye Cissoko: I don’t see who can stop Nathalie and Ablaye! No, no, I don’t even think so! The people who have the vision to put us together, that’s it, they can no longer undo us together. Our path will always continue together. Yes, why not? There is already an album that is in place. People need to discover it all over the world. And then, yes, we will of course continue to do things together.

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