Manuel Wandji

In celebration of the Month of La Francophonie

The Artist

With a Cameroonian father and a French mother, cultural diversity is at the core of Manuel Wandji’s creativity, constantly refueled by his trips and artistic encounters in Europe and the United States. But Africa remains the source and dominant culture represented in his art.

After a veritable musical conscious-raising to the sonorous world of the equatorial forest and to traditional and urban music, his teen-aged years found Manuel Wandji in the clubs and popular neighborhoods of the city where “Wambo”, as he was called, began hanging out with his high school friends. In 1980, he left for France where he discovered new musical styles and was introduced to the dance scene for which he has composed ever since: Compagnie Accrorap, S'poart , Ego (Eric Mezino) or Malka (Landrille "Bouba" Tchouda). In 1986, he established the Compagnie Métissages in which he is a dancer and musician.

In 1988, he arrived in Paris and played for Ray Lema, Papa Wemba…The world music scene was very rich and Manuel, while checking out various sorts of training, discovered studio work.

In 1994-1995, while preparing his first productions, he accompanied Geoffrey Oreyma, and played for the Canal+ program Nulle part ailleurs with other guest artists, including Ben Harper, Manu Dibango and Tom Jones…In 2004 he embarked on his first project as singer-author-composer under the stage name Wambo (Afro-reggae) and made his first tours in Cameroon, where he received the prize for the “best artist from the diaspora,” awarded by the television station Canal 2.

An original mix of urban sounds and ethnic influences, his music has inspired a number of choreographers in Europe, Africa, and the U.S.  

But he is most impressive in his live performances with his dancer friends. A generous and creative performer, Manuel Wandji has permanently marked his album Planet groove with his futurist African poly-rhythms.

Performance:  “Voices of Percussion Project” for musicians and dancer

Manuel Wandji: vocals, percussion, sanza

Charlotte Dipanda: vocals

Merlin Nyakam: vocals, dance

YO2: didgeridoo, percussion

Abou Diarrassouba: drums, percussion

Gregg Fine: guitar

Fred Doumbé: basse

In the press

Protean cross between the dance-inspired effervescence of Yaoundé and the growls of the Australian didgeridoo, often with touches of Pygmy sounds…Positively not to be missed on stage!
Télérama, Eliane Azoulay

Subtle arrangements mixing urban and traditional cultures... A must if you want to dance multiculturally!

Vocals and drums, aquatic impressions, subtle dialogues between instruments... Manuel Wandji won his bet: he’s made the imagination travel.

Subtle alloys of tones, Manuel Wandji’s music gives more than is due to festive polyrhythm, but can also become climatic and pastoral.
Keyboards, Bruno Heuzé

The French-Cameroonian Manuel Wandji grew up in the two cultures and as a result does not settle for the stereotypes that people mistakenly  try to box him into...Planet groove is an echo of this diversity: roots, Hip-hop or electronic.
Mondomix, Squaaly

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Related Sites

  • Fondation Alliance Française
  • Alliance Française de Paris
  • Cultural Services of the French Embassy
  • Federation of Alliance Française USA

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