Charlotte Dipanda : This is the album in which I tell myself the most. By far, it is the most autobiographical. The pandemic hit the whole world and I wanted to reach my audience as much as possible with autobiographical songs that correspond to themes that we all know.
You had dedicated an album and a song, Mispa, to your grandmother. Sure CD there are two family songs: Father and Mama. Are they aimed at your parents?
Certainly Father means dad in English but it should be understood in the spiritual sense. God is a parental figure and a very important energy for me. In recent years I have grown spiritually and wanted to approach it.
How did it manifest?
I have been attacked by unfounded media rumors which have been very harmful to my family. I have been insulted a lot. In these difficult times, I drew on my faith so as not to doubt myself. As for Mama, it is a song about maternal love, this gift from God offered to all women. She speaks of this unconditional love, stronger than anything. I got to know him through my grandmother who brought me up and always supported me. Even though she didn’t understand everything, she wanted to be allowed to sing. She always stood up for me when I was a teenager accused of singing in cabarets at night. This song is therefore also, completely, a tribute to my grandmother.
Did the containment have an impact on the recording? Where was it made?
We started it in Cameroon, then in Abidjan and finally in Paris. The album was a year late due to the pandemic. But I took the opportunity to polish the titles and give new life to Our notebooks of Singuila with new arrangements.
She was already on One day in my life (2018), why this recovery?
I love her so much. The first time Singuila played it to me, we were on a flight to Johannesburg for The Voice and I wanted it right away. She talks about Singuila’s adolescence but it’s a touching and universal song. We all recognize each other in these promises made in college. Even as we evolve and our teenage friends bands have shrunk or disappeared, these promises are fond memories and a nostalgia in which I recognize myself a lot.
CD would it not be the record of maturity?
I have the impression. I believe that after 13 years of career I can take responsibility for things, face the themes that sometimes annoy head-on, without razing the walls.
This is the case in Another’s Shadow. You discuss marital humiliation and adultery by talking about a woman who must disappear when the mistress of the man she loves arrives …
It is a taboo subject in Africa that should no longer be. It is recurrent and it should especially not be considered as the norm. This creates enormous psychological damage because the woman is forbidden to complain and speak of her suffering. This calls into question the place of women in our society. I wanted to broach this theme to encourage thinking about it. It is not a situation that must be endured and taboo.
Another committed song is called Madiba. We immediately think of Nelson Mandela whose nickname was, but madiba means “water” in douala. What is she talking about ?
Some water. It is a metaphor for addressing the place of water in Africa. In this song, I situate myself as an African and as a Cameroonian. There are still many households in Africa and also in Cameroon who do not have access to running water. Yet it is a primary need. This song is a way to challenge our leaders.
Love is also When you are not there which tackles a sad theme on a dancing ritornello …
I wanted to write about the void left by the absence of the loved one with joyful music. I really like the contrasts between the subject of the songs and their arrangements. I don’t want people to kill themselves on my songs (Laughs). We can totally dance to a sad song. And then, I have never wanted to be happy as much as since the pandemic, it is my most solar disk.
As for Caged heart it’s your eagerly awaited duo with your accomplice Singuila. What brings you together artistically?
Singuila is Central African-Congolese and grew up in France, but our approaches are similar. There is in his music this flow typically African, found everywhere at home in different styles as on Rossignol which is inspired by African rumba. He does the same as me with makossa, for example; Singui is inspired by Afro music from the past by bringing it a very personal current look. It had been a long time since I wanted to do a song with him and I wanted to take him away from his image of “bad boy” (Laughs). On this song, we sing that love can make you happy and make you want to be in a cage (Laughs).
You sing in douala, in French, in bakaka. Tomorrow in English?
I am not yet fluent enough to write in English but I would like to, yes.
Which artists would you like to collaborate with?
Stevie Wonder, Tiwa Savage, Fally Ipupa. Amel Bent or Vitaa touch me a lot by the sensitivity of their voices. Or Yseult also whose approach and sensitivity I like.
How do you imagine the evolution of your career? Would you like to make films or to conquer the American public?
I imagine myself in ten years, that gives me time to unfold (Laughs). Indeed I would like to play in the cinema! What touches me a lot about actors is that they can change characters, play roles very far from them and also, thanks to that, discover things about them. I also like the words, I would like to have my show where I could allow others to tell themselves. As for the United States, why not, but above all to try to arouse American curiosity for Cameroonian music. There are many musical trends and genres in Cameroon. I would like to discover this diversity.
Charlotte Dipanda CD (Universal Music Africa) 2021
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