The Panafrican Ensemble performs spiritual music from Cameroon and the Ivory Coast, West Africa. The group brings together instruments from across the continent, such as:
djembe: A drum common to nearly all African music. It is always played at the various ceremonies, marking the important phases of life.
balafon (xylophone): Made of wooden blades, fixed over calabash gourds, which form the resonating chamber. The instrument is played with sticks made of wood with a rubber or leather gong on the end. Balafons are melodious instruments played at festivals, and are also used in the art of divining and for healing.
Nkul: The traditional “telephone” of Africa, it is a drum made from a hollowed out tree trunk. It serves to communicate from one village to another. Drummers beat out the drum language of that region; the “talking drum” is really a voice that reaches over long distances.
Sanza: The African “thumb piano.” It consists of bamboo or metal strips that are fastened to a resonating body and plucked with the thumbs. It accompanies dancing and is sometimes played to relieve the monotony of long walks. It accompanies songs that tell ancient stories. The sanza is also heard at small gatherings, providing background music for the conversation.
The group is comprised of Pilmine Nga (lead singer, composer, songwriter), Tétia Oyourou (singer, percussionist), Valérie Belinga (singer, percussionist) Joëlle Esso (singer, percussion), Taté Nsongan (djembe, balafon and guitar).