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World Music Matters

Emmanuel π Djob: a soul man from Cameroon

Audio 13:07
Emmanuel Pi Djob, powerful singer and guitarist from Cameroon
Emmanuel Pi Djob, powerful singer and guitarist from Cameroon ©Cathy Castro

Emmanuel π Djob started out singing gospel in his native Cameroon and is building a successful blues-soul career in France. He heads up the six-piece AfroSoul Gang, but it’s performing alone with guitar that his gravel-rough baritone voice, raw emotion and soul really shines through. We caught him performing live on RFI's Musiques du Monde.

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Emmanuel π Djob started out with Bayembi’s International, a pan African gospel formation popular in Cameroon in the 1990s.

After settling in France, he helped to revive and renew the gospel tradition, performing with the Black & White Gospel Singers and Gospelize it!

He released his debut album, Seven Minutes, in 2008, drawing on the blues, pop and rock to explore the theme of the death penalty.

He went on to record a series of albums called Terrassa’s Conversessions in 2010.

In 2013 he created a storm on the TV music talent show The Voice singing Ray Charles’ Georgia on My Mind.

“Ray Charles, Bob Marley, Fela Kuti, Hugh Masekela, they were my musical foundations,” he says. “It was normal that I sing one of Ray Charles’ songs.”

“That song meant a lot to me because I’m in exile here and it’s a song about love and exile."

In January 2016 he packed the huge Zenith concert hall in Montpellier with his band AfroSoull Gang, accompanied by the 500-strong Afro Soul Mass Choir.

He’s taking this ensemble to Cameroon in December “to Yaoundé and to Douala, just to show to people that Cameroonians can sing together, even if we have problems".

Get on Board! Pi Djob's latest album
Get on Board! Pi Djob's latest album ©Pi Djob

π Djob’s latest album Get on Board ! is resolutely afro-soul. The stand out track is Sons of Lilith, Daughter of Kham on which he weaves the legend of a demonised woman and cursed man into an allegory of how he sees the world.

His live rendition of the song on Musiques du Monde is a treasure: the sound of a singer-songwriter possessed by the need to sing and communicate about his dispossesed African ancestors. 

Emmanuel π Djob in concert in Pessac 7/8 December 2019, with AfroSoull Gang in Montpellier 29 February 2020.

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