is a highly accomplished singer, composer and arranger whose
home country is Cameroon. While growing up there, Coco began
singing in public from the tender age of seven. She entered
local talent contests and won them with ease.
Moving to France in the 1990s aged 13, Coco went to school and
university in Paris and gained a postgraduate degree in language
Coco was a member of an African gospel choir called The Cherubs
from 1990 to 1996. Based in Paris, Coco also started using her
singing talent as a backing singer for some of the well known
African music stars: Salif Keita (with whom she toured for 2
years), Toure Kunda, Oumou Sangare
and Manu Dibango as well as some
international singers like Dee Dee Bridgewater and Demis Roussos.
Hence Coco has travelled all over the world.
Coco’s own albums to date are Sepia (2001) and
Sisea (2003). Coco is married to Serge Ngando-Mpondo,
a guitarist and bassist. Serge plays on many of the songs on
Coco’s recordings, they worked on many of the arrangements
together and he plays in her band as well. One of the tracks
on Sisea is entitled 'Kaweyabe', a contraction of her
2 sons’ names. You could say it’s a family affair:
the 2 boys also feature on 'Ombwa Te'! Coco pays tribute to
her ancestors in the song 'Ndum' as her parents were of noble
Coco sings backing vocals on Anne-Marie
Nzié’s CD Beza Ba Dzo (1999) and on
Richard Bona’s CD Munia
(2003). Manu Dibango and Richard Bona are guest musicians on
Sisea: Coco and Richard co-wrote 'Dube' and Richard
is also guitarist on that track, while Manu Dibango plays marimbas
on 'Ascensor da Bica'.
Coco’s songs feature on several compilation CDs, for example
'D' is on Colours of Africa and 'Muenge Mwa
Ndolo' is on Putumayo’s Women of Spirit.
In 1996 Coco was the winner of the prestigious ‘Discovery’
prize of Radio
© Lucille Reyboz/Griot GmbH
International for her song ‘Muenge Mwa Ndolo’. This
was just the beginning of her awards and nominations. She went
on to receive the German Critics Award for her first solo album,
Sepia and was nominated in the Newcomer category in
the BBC Radio 3 World Music Awards in 2003.
Coco has performed notably at the Hot Brass Club in Paris has
been on stage at many international festivals in Europe, Canada
and USA, for example WOMAD Reading in 2002, Musiques Metisses
in France, Louisiana International Festival in USA and Afroprojekt
in Würtzburg, Germany. For the immediate future Coco’s
plans include visits to Cameroon, Ireland and Germany.
Coco has sometimes been involved in musical projects in other
styles, such as the ecological cantata ‘Memoire D’Eau’
at the Auvers sur Oise festival in France in 2000.
Listening to Coco's albums you’ll hear lots of classical
and jazz elements. A fascinating DVD entitled Coco Mbassi
Tour is now available. It contains interviews, concert
footage from Germany and Douala and a visit to Coco's village
in Cameroon. Buy it on line at conserprod.co.uk
Coco describes her music as a tree with African roots and branches
that spread to many other places – may that tree flourish!
For further updates keep checking Coco’s own web site: