Oct 7, 2011
From Benin: Orchestre Renova Band d'Abomey - Dada Segbo (download)
Renova-Band (or Renova Band, depending on the release) were part of the 60s scene in Dahomey, a country that became independent in 1960 and changed its name to Benin in 1975. Together with Super Star de Ouidah and Orchestre Picoby-Band among others, Renova-Band formed the first generation of modern music bands in Dahomey, mixing new genres like rumba, cha-cha-cha, salsa and jerk with traditional/local elements.
One of the peculiarities of the band was their female vocalist. Born in 1938, Sophie Aguidigbadja, better known as Edia Sophie, decided she would be a singer around 1965 after hearing a song by Renova-Band. She liked the song so much that she got in touch with one of their members, Nestor Hountondji. After some discussions between the musicians, Sophie joined the band and became the first modern female singer in the area, entering a world which till then was pretty much closed to female artists.
As Fortuné Sossa recently put it in La Nouvelle Tribune:
The beginnings of Edia Sophie in music goes back [sic] in 1965. She was barely 25 years old and living in Abomey. Marked by a piece of the orchestra Renova Band, performed by Nestor Hountondji, she decided to sing. She approaches him and confided in him. Most group members feel that accepting a woman in their midst, the orchestra may shatter. For memory of Dahomey (now Benin), the woman has never deigned to modern music. It is a job reserved exclusively for men. Therefore impossible to accept that a woman will cause trouble in the natural order established. But she does not lose courage. She is determined, committed as driven by a supernatural force. Two things were arming its determination. She knew she was capable of exercising the profession. She was already married with families.
With Dansi Zindjo, percussionist Renova Band, Sophie Aguidigbadja met the head of the orchestra, William Basil Cakpo. Although surprised, it repeatedly asks him the question: "Do you really sing?" The "Yes" the woman does not suffer the slightest stutter or mess. The genius of the art has bewitched his whole body. It now runs in its empty like the sap in the tree. Then the head of the Renova Band is testing. No comment! The result is obvious. Sophie Aguidigbadja can sing!
"We're going to criticize you too," warns William Basil still Cakpo by signing the official entry of the Renova Sophie Aguidigbadja Band. And the critics are not made to wait. It was indeed a curiosity. She seemed dishonorable in the eyes of public opinion. But at the same time his talent became reassuring. Far from a disgrace, it immediately brought a revolution to a system daunting.
Renova Band was featured post at OROGOD but the singer Edia Sophie had not been mentioned. Sophie Aguidigbadja aka Edia Sophie is the oldest modern Beninese woman singer but also the first with a modern orchestra. She decides to sing in 1965, after hearing a song sung by Nestor Hountondji with Renova Band. She met him and expressed her desire to sing. At the time, it was frowned upon for women to sing in a modern orchestra. With Dansi Zindjo, Renova's percussionist, sophie met the leader, William Basile Cakpo who intergrayes her just after hearing her distinctive voice. Sophie Edia brought a revolution in music system quite daunting because it was difficult to tell the difference between bands like Super Stars de Ouidah, Sunny Black Band or others playing all the same afro-cuban musical style. Sophie later founded her own band, Caméléon Sonore, and recorded famous "Gahounga".
Thanx for the information!!!