Senegalese Griot songwriter meets UK blues-rock-soul man and gets funky… combining authentic Senegalese rhythms and styles with European folk and rock, American blues and soul, Caribbean reggae, Cuban and Latin influences.
In the summer of 2015, Ndiaga Issa Mbaye – a Senegalese griot musician living in the UK – asked Mike Collins – a UK blues-rock-soul musician – to form a musical partnership. They got together, played guitars and percussion, and discovered a musical empathy promising great potential.
For the rest of the year they wrote and recorded songs together at Mike’s place a couple of days each week to create an album featuring Issa’s vocals and songwriting talents with musical inspiration and input drawn from Mike’s wide-ranging musical experiences.
All their songs all have a message or tell a story. For example, Mike explains, “Our latest song, “Refugees”, recounts the plight of all those people from so many countries around the world fleeing wars and oppression today, offering our sympathy and moral support.” Click here to audition this! Click here to listen to the shorter edited version for radio play.
As 2015 draws to a close, they have recorded 12 songs in the past 6 months for the forthcoming album – which is provisionally titled “Maman Yé” by ‘Issa & Michael’.
Refugees – This song expresses sympathy for and solidarity with all the refugees seeking safety – particularly those from the African continent.
Issa sings lead and backing vocals and plays rhythm guitar, drums, Persian tombak and African mbuong mbuong hand drums. Michael plays yoomba (maracas), bass guitar, National steel slide guitar, Prophet 6 synthesiser, and the high and low arpeggios on acoustic guitar.
Yoff – Yoff is the name of the village where Issa was born. This song gives thanks to everyone in the village for all the support he received from his fellow villagers as a child and a young man.
Issa sings lead and backing vocals, plays drums, rhythm guitar and ‘picking’ guitar riffs. Michael plays acoustic rhythm guitar and sings backing vocals. Tom Fairbairn plays Rhodes piano and Hammond organ. Winston Blissett plays the bass guitar.
Africa – Africa is Issa’s plea to his fellow Africans to be united as one people – one love!
Issa sings lead and backing vocals, plays 3 acoustic ‘picking’ guitar parts, plays the drum kit, plays darbuka and tombak hand drums, and the African tambour drum. Michael plays the electric ‘picking’ guitar. Lyn Dobson plays the flute, Winston Blissett plays the bass guitar, and Tom Fairbairn plays the Hammond organ.
Bamba – Bamba is the name of a spiritual leader, Aamadu Bamba Mbàkke, who led a pacifist struggle against French colonialism in Senegal.
Issa sings lead and backing vocals, plays bass, drum kit, Persian tombak and African khine hand drums, and the acoustic guitar riffs. Michael plays the piano-accordion.
Jigueen – This song is all about having respect for all women – who give birth to our children and take care of our families.
Michael plays bass and rhythm guitar on this song, while Issa sings lead and backing vocals, plays the acoustic picking guitar, and and plays the drum kit. Lyn Dobson plays the flute.
Fonka Wadiour – (Respect your Mother) – This song is a call to all children to respect their mothers who brought them into this world!
Issa sings lead vocals and plays bass, drums and the main rhythm guitar part. Michael plays two arpeggiated guitar parts, the picking guitar part and the guitar harmonics.
Askanwi – Speaking on behalf of the people of Senegal – the Askanwi – Issa asks the President of Senegal to remember the promises he made to his people when he was elected and to do his best to keep these promises!
Issa sings lead and backing vocals, plays drums, and plays the guitar riffs in the breaks. Michael sings backing vocals, and plays the two main rhythm guitar parts and the piano-accordion. Winston Blissett plays the bass guitar.
Diambar – (The Journey) – This song is about the Mayor of Yoff who all the people of the village are so proud of because of his efforts to build new infrastructure, to provide social benefits, and to clean up the whole village – especially getting rid of all the rubbish and pollution that had built up over previous years.
Issa sings all vocals, plays the drum kit, tombak, khine and mbeung mbeung hand drums, acoustic rhythm guitar and acoustic ‘picking’ guitar. Michael plays piano and John McKenzie plays the bass guitar.
Mon Metier – (My Work) – Here Issa has a message for all young people, exhorting them to get a good education and establish a suitable career direction before jumping out into the adult world.
Issa plays the drum kit and the bass guitar, a 12-string guitar line and a fast picking guitar part, and sings the lead and backing vocals. Michael plays the rhythm part on 12-string guitar and plays the piano-accordion.
Maman Yé – (You, my Mother) – This is a song that a child might sing to its mother, asking her forgiveness for all the stress of childbirth and subsequent nurturing and rearing of the child.
Issa sings lead and backing vocals, plays acoustic rhythm guitar and drums. Michael plays two overlaid electric guitar picking riffs and the bass guitar. Lyn Dobson plays the flute.
Aduna Momana Woor – (Life Betrays You) – This is a homage to Issa’s cousin, Zale Seck, who gave Issa his first lessons in music. Life betrayed Zale, because never knew his own father – who died before he was born – but whose name he is known by to this day.
Issa sings lead and backing vocals, plays rhythm guitar and riffs on 12-string acoustic guitar, and plays the tombak and mbeung mbeung hand drums. Michael plays yoomba shakers, maracas, chimes, finger cymbals, bass guitar, and three additional acoustic lead, rhythm and riff guitar parts.
Hommage Aux Artistes Senegalais – Issa sings this homage to all Senegalese musical artistes, including El Hadji Doudou Ndiaye Rose, El Hadji Vieux Sing Faye, Papa Ndiaga Mbaye, Ndogo Lo, and Musa Afia Ngum.
Issa sings and plays acoustic guitar. Michael plays 12-string guitar, pedal harp and bass guitar.
• All the work-in-progress songs are available to listen to on a SoundCloud playlist.
• The Album is expected to be completed and made available in December 2017, initially via iTunes.
• A Vinyl album with hand-painted cover artwork created by Issa will follow.
• Contact Mike on +44 (0)7984 029734 or via firstname.lastname@example.org to book Issa & Michael as a duo for small venues, or with the Griot Soul band for larger venues.
Issa & Michael also make recordings under the group name “The Funky Boys” featuring different musicians and singers. Listen on Soundcloud to their latest song – “Thiebou Diene” – which features Issa singing about the Senegalese national dish! Also “Kiniane (Jealousy)“.
Issa is also the featured percussionist with SunPalace ‘Live’ – the ‘live’ performance group that has been promoting “SunPalace”, Michael’s studio-based 80’s-style jazz-funk project.