Born in Bafia in Cameroon, Simon Nwambeben grew up in a traditional and musician family. Since birth, he has been immersed into songs, dance and percussion, thanks to his parents. He had his first go on a modern musical instrument (drums) when he was 9 years old. That was the beginning of a musical vocation which will never end. He wrote, composed, sang, maked his own instruments (guitars, drums, percussion) and took every opportunity to perform, first in front of his family and then friends. When he was 14, he set up his first group and then at 17, he left his family and native city to Yaoundé, capital of Cameroon. He was hired by Ndjana at “la Terre Battue”, a famous cabaret for all music lovers. This is where he first met Jean-Luc Courcoult, the artistic director of « Royal de Luxe », the famous street theatre company, based in Nantes in France. He worked for this company as a musical director during five years (250 performances on the five continents). He wrote, composed and song the music of 2 performances: "Les petits contes nègres" ("Small negro tales") and "Les petits contes chinois" ("Small chinese tales"). After the decision in 1999 to stay permanently in Nantes, France, he got on with a project he had been dreaming for a while: producing his own show, supported by Bantu rhythms and Bafia traditions. He created his own musical style, called Bitibak. In the Bafia culture, Bitibak is in fact an ingenious mixture of different leaves, barks, plants and roots, all brought to boil in a big pan and inhaled to cure fever, malaria or influenza among the Bafia people, Simon Nwambeben's native city and region in Cameroon. Through his music, Simon Nwambeben reaches out to the human being, touches people's hearts and cures contemporary ills. A pure delight without any artifice, that takes you to a trip around the world... Beyond his belonging to the African world, Simon Nwambeben offers a poetic universe that constantly dances and palpitates at the border between fragil and universal. The encounter with the world famous Zairean pianist and singer, Ray Lema, whom Simon Nwambeben admires, was decisive. His artistic advice were both very positive and beneficial. The first album of Simon Nwambeben, "Bitibak 1", was born under his direction in 2006, and he won the award of "SACEM 2006 discovery artist" ("Artiste découverte SACEM 2006" / SACEM is a French copyright society). The press was unanimous about this first opus and presented Simon Nwambeben as the new voice of the African stage. Both artists worked together again on the second album, "Bitibak 2", which was released in 2010. On stage, he created his first show called Folk Bitibak, in quartet and then sextet (voice / guitar, 2 female voices, guitar, bass, drums). It was supported by ADAMI, CNV, SACEM and local authorities. He then travelled and played for some world music festivals in France and abroad. Since 2006, Simon Nwambeben has been singing on the stages of the Olympia, the festivals Suds in Arles, Nuits Atypiques in Langon, Musiques de Traverses in Lille, Primeurs de Massy, Nuits Métisses in Auxerre, Musiques Métisses in Angoulème, Nuits de Champagne in Troyes, Francophone Days in Paris and Saint Domingue, Bouche d'Air in Nantes, Chaînon Manquant in Cahors, Instants du Monde in Rezé. He shared the stages with Manu Dibango, Alpha Blondy, Tiken Jah Fakoly, Souad Massi, Ismaël Lo, Salif Keita, Boubacar Traoré, Lokua Kanza, Nilda Fernandez, Thomas Dutronc . . . In 2012, as he was interested in musical and rhythmic mix, he created and composed a show, called Classic Bitibak, which is a quartet (voice/guitar, cello, harp, drums) with a mix of African and classic sounds. This project ended at his third album, Bitibak 3, which was released in 2014 and partly arranged by Pascal Vandelbulcke. In 2013, Simon Nwambeben and Henri Mariel (artistic director of the Théâtre de l'Entr'Acte) created a musical tale for children, using some Bafia tales : "Ribal et l'ombre des ancêtres". The songs are in Bafia and French, and the story is in French. In 2015, he launched a new show about the Bafia voice, called Vocal Bitibak, with 5 singers, 2 female voices and 3 male voices, staged by Flora Théfaine. Simon Nwambeben can perform in solo, duo (cello, harp, drums) and above all in quartet or quintet, Classic, Folk or Vocal, according to the wishes, the décors and the preferences. He will be sincere and authentic and will present you his musical world; between poetic gentleness and blazing rhythms, between Cameroon and France.
Simon Nwambeben
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