Everything you want to know about Madagascar and never dared to ask

A Family of Jazz October 25, 2011

There is always a musician or a singer in a Malagasy family. In my own family for instance, we all play an instrument or sing. Your honourable blogger used to play the piano and sang in a choir with her sister. Her sister played the violin, her dad also plays the piano, her mum sang and her godson played the trumpet. We could have an awesome orchestra altogether.

Don´t worry, I am not going to bother you with the history of my family. After I had met Kilema, I realised how lucky I was to be surrounded by real professional musicians and this blog gives me the opportunity to write about them, to promote them.

Two of my cousins are actually so active that they have become quite famous in the music field. Two brothers, one in Madagascar, one in France. My cousin Haja Ravaloson, who plays himself various instruments, has a wonderful crooner of a voice and is a very popular guitar jazz teacher, is member of the board of the International Festival Madajazzcar. This Jazz festival has just ended last week after two weeks of intensive program. It always takes place in Antananarivo andevery year the best jazz players from all over the world come to Madagascar to be part in this fantastic event.

If you love music and jazz especially I advise you to take a flight to Madagascar or if you´re broke just take a look at the festival´s website Madajazzcar.

Here are some of the big names : Trio Esperança , Mônica Passos (Brasil), Didier Lockwood,, Louis Winsberg, Michel Portal, Linley Marthe, Omri Mor (Israel), Sadao Watanabe, Mario Canonge (Martinique), Håkon Berre (Norway)  and all the wonderful Malagasy artists who live abroad: Nivo and Serge Rahoerson, Lalao and Jeannot Rabeson, Rabary Rabeson, Tony Rabeson and many more…

My other cousin Andry who lives in Lille, is a guitar player of great renown. I think everyone in Northern France knows who he is. He has become one of the most popular guitar players and a beloved music teacher, not only because he plays extremely well, but also because he is one of the nicest and funniest persons I know. And I don´t say that because we are related. His main band is Andry Ravaloson Quartet, but he plays with everybody who needs a good guitarist. He even plays the harmonica and the guitar bass. He can play anything any style. His brother Bara plays the contrabass and the  saxophone and other instruments as well. The thing I found most irritating is that they never learnt playing at a music school, unlike me who attended boring music theory courses and played hours and hours of piano technique. They just started playing and improvising and they are just so good at what they´re doing! I´m just jealous, but I´m also a very lazy girl. Too lazy to learn the chords by myself.

Anyway, here are some videos of them, Andry, the brother and the nephews. Enjoy!

Andry, Bara, Tohery and Vaika another nephew at AFT during Madajazzcar 2010:

I could not finish this article by paying a tribute to my late cousin Onisoa who passed away when she was only 14. Horrible cancer!

Rest in Peace Onisoa.

Music composed be Andry Ravaloson.

Andry Ravaloson Quartet on My Space:

Madajazzcar, site official:

Madajazzcar Festival Official – Facebook:


Kilema A New Friend October 15, 2011

Last Saturday we had a wonderful time at the International Library where the non-profit organisation Afrikultur and the City of Stockholm organised a Family Day on Madagascar. First of all, I didn’t want to go there, because I had so much homework, but then I thought, it would have been so stupid to miss it. And I am so glad I did!

When we arrived, my husband and I were warmly welcomed by the musicians and by the members of the organisation. And the world being so small, we found out that one of them, Klara, worked at the Balettakademien where she teaches African Dance and at the Dance Museum, which is my husband’s favourite hanging-out place being a former dancer. He knows everybody there.

They had a nice little café with lovely homemade pastries, warm and cold drinks and even some specialties from Madagascar, like really good sambosas (like the Indian samosas, but with a Madagascan touch).

Then I had an interesting conversation with another woman, – Susanna was her name if I remember well -, who had adopted two boys from Madagascar. Later on Malagasy-looking woman came to me and we discovered that we had a Malagasy friend in common in Stockholm. At least, we were six Malagasy in the room!

After about an hour, Kilema and his brother Nesta started playing. Oh my, it was so much fun! I hard heard about him before, but I had never heard them live. I had listened to them at a Justin Vali´s concert, but this was different. It was so nice to see and listen to them in that very small room, without microphone and to hear the natural sounds of all his handmade instruments. I guess you all know that Madagascar is a very poor land, one of the poorest in the world indeed and because or thanks to poverty, Malagasy people have become the World Champions in inventing and recycling things. For instance, one of Kilema’s percussion instruments was made of a tin can.

I won´t bother you with all the details, but it was just incredible how Kilema and his brother interacted with the public. He told us stories, made us sing in Malagasy and in the end we even danced a typical Madagascan dance. But to me, the most moving moment was when he sang in Swedish. It was meant as a present to us.

After the concert we had a very last talk with them, exchanged visit cards and even discovered that they new one of my cousins in Madagascar. The world is really small. I might visit them in Spain one day!

So, if you want to know more about the band click here:

Kilema will be playing at World-mix festival in Växjö on November 4, Smålandsposten:

One of the most famous valiha players: Justin Vali,

What is a valiha?

Qu´est ce-qu´une valiha ?

What is a Kabosy?

International Library Stockholm: Special Day on Madagascar:

Afrikultur Facebook Page:

Kilema will be playing at the World Mix Festival in Växjö:

Kilema on My Space:

KILEMA on You Tube:

A Mix Music Review from 2009:

Mix Musik – Kilema ger varm klangfylld strängmusik på Inkonst 5 november – Mynewsdesk.


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