Sery Simplice

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b. February 1949, Touba, Cote D’lvoire. One of Cote D’lvoire’s most popular roots modernizers, vocalist and guitarist Simplice is the leading exponent of the country’s gbegbe style, a traditional dance…
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b. February 1949, Touba, Cote D’lvoire. One of Cote D’lvoire’s most popular roots modernizers, vocalist and guitarist Simplice is the leading exponent of the country’s gbegbe style, a traditional dance rhythm that has spread far beyond its village origins to the clubs and dancehalls of the capital, Abidjan. Simplice spent 1964 and 1965 moving from village to village, playing traditional songs on a guitar made from a petrol can. In 1966, he moved to Abidjan, where he joined the band led by one of the pioneers of modern Ivoirian music, Amedee Pierre, ‘Le Dope National’, who was singing traditional proverbs and stories over a mix of Ivoirian and Zairean rhythms. As his guitarist, Simplice decided to go further and transpose an entire traditional music into modern form. Leaving Amedee Pierre in 1978, he set up his own unit, Les Freres Djatys. The band’s mixture of heavy rhythms and harsh vocals carried the full flavour of the old rural music; although Abidjan audiences at first rejected the sound as ‘backward’ and ‘reactionary’, by 1983 the sheer vigour and power of the music had won Simplice a substantial following. That year he was crowned the King Of Gbegbe Music on national television. In 1985, he made his first European tour.