Marie Daulne is better known as multi-culti musician Zap Mama. By mixing up a gumbo of soul, Afrobeat, gospel, Moroccan, Pygmy and Indian influences, she's created her own sound -- a sound that she's shared with a global audience for more than ten years now.
Daulne's upbringing was painful and peripatetic. Her mother was Zairian, her father Belgian. When Marie was a child, brutal civil war erupted in Zaire. After the death of her father, she and her mother moved to the Congolese rain forests, where they lived with Central African Pygmies before eventually settling in Belgium. (Fittingly, the "Zap" in Daulne's moniker refers to "zapping," or traveling all over the globe.)
Living with Pygmies had a profound effect on her music. "It's another world," Daulne says. "To live in the middle of the jungle with the sounds, the birds, the river -- all the power of nature, beauty and color. Their philosophy of life is inspiring for our urban-jungle cities."
Originally a quintet, Zap Mama was signed to David Byrne's Luaka Bop imprint. The group's first two albums, Adventures In Afropea and Sabsylma, blended Afrobeat with a cappella. The next release, 7, featured a smaller band and a soulful new sound. 1999's polyphonic A Ma Zone threw drum & bass, hip-hop and R&B into the mix.
The band's fifth album, Ancestry In Progress, is scheduled for a 2004 release. According to Daulne, the record is "soulicious." "It will have an international sound," she says, and "a more soulful sound."
Daulne is optimistic about the continually growing exposure of Afro-European music to new markets. "It is very good that we [Afro-European musicians] are together. I hope that Zap Mama, Sade, Angelique Kidjo, Les Nubians and Fela bring peace, beauty, joy and good feelings of Afro-European music."
At Zap Mama's live shows, says Daulne, her wide range of influences come together in the most serendipitous of ways: "With good technique, good musicians and free spirit, all is possible."