Valérie Ekoumé is a Paris-born Cameroonian singer who can knock out a pop ballad with nothing but her own piano as accompaniment just as easily as she can slide into a Makossa-influenced vamp and bring an audience to its feet. Born to a musician family, Valerie grew up listening to everything from Congolese rumba to Western pop music and calls Miriam Makeba and Whitney Houston her ‘virtual vocal coaches.’ Her life took a different turn when, in 2004, she started to actively work with the great Cameroonian musician and songwriter Manu Dibango and his Soul Makossa Gang.
Valerie’s second album, Kwin Na Kingue (Queen and King in her native language, duala) was released in November 2017 and finds her digging deeper into her cultural roots. “I wanted to express the colour, the joy, (of) life in Cameroon,” explains Valerie. But underlying the songs is a sense of frustration over Africa’s place in history. “There’s no trace of all the greatness of the kingdoms and great stories, the things that black people brought to humanity.”
Despite her frustration, Ekoumè is simply radiant in performance: “I think we’re all related in a way but we don’t find the way. On stage I want to try and connect with people, to [have] a great time and to share what is for me the most important thing… which is love.”