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Afro-Pop Ensemble Coming To Macey Center

SOCORRO, N.M. January 21, 2013 – A group that began its journey in the African nation of Chad with four brothers and a sister who did their first singing in church, will open the second half of the Performing Arts Series season.

The five-piece ensemble H’sao kicks off the 2013 Performing Arts Series calendar with a performance at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 25, at Macey Center.

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Afro-pop group H'Sao will perform in Socorro on Friday, Jan. 25.


“As promised, this year’s season continues what we call an international cultural tour designed to touch on a variety of entertainment genres from various parts of the world,” said Series Director Ronna Kalish.

“We’re delighted to have H’sao on our performance schedule, and I know audiences will agree,” she said.

“These singers and musicians fuse many of the elements identified with traditional African music with gospel, rhythm and blues, jazz and soul,” Kalish said; the group also is known for its virtuoso a capella harmonies.

H’sao’s unique sound has been described as both soulful and flamboyant. Audiences will be inspired by H’Sao’s hopeful lyrics, energy, and an almost palpable joie de vivre.

H’sao was originally comprised of the Rimtobaye brothers and sister: Caleb, Mossbass, Taroum and Israel, whose father dubbed them Hirondelle (for “swallow”) in honor of the birds that are always searching for higher ground.

The siblings’ first performance outside their father’s church was in 1994, where they took part in the Fête de la Musique, a presentation of the Centre Culturel Français in N’Djamena, the capital city of Chad.

H’sao began building a fan base at the 1994 festival, followed by a long string of performances. In 1995, Charles and Service Ledjebgue joined the band. Their arrival brought about their name change to “H'sao,” with the “H” for hirondelle, and Sao in honor of their Chadian ancestors. All of the members are singer/songwriters who blend various influences with African rhythms.

In October 2000, as part of their first 10-show tour, H’Sao performed at the Fest’Africa in Lille, France. Soon after, they recorded their first demo and bought instruments with the earnings. Until then, they had been creating and performing their beautiful music with only their voices. This lack of means has arguably allowed H’sao to develop an original and unique style, as well as an impressive repertoire of a capella songs.

An early highlight in their performance history occurred in March 2001, when H’sao was selected from 18 other bands to represent Chad at the “Jeux de la Francophonie” in Ottawa, Quebec, where they won a bronze medal at an event that gathers the world’s best francophone athletes and artists.

That August, the band members settled down in Montréal, Quebec. From then on invitations start pouring in: Montréal International Jazz Festival, Festival Nuits d’Afrique, Francofolies de Montréal, Festival des Musiques du Monde – and many others.

“Once again, here is an opportunity for local – and by local, I mean people up and down the Rio Grande Valley – audiences to experience world-class entertainment in an intimate venue, at a fraction of the cost,” Kalish said. “Once again, we have our loyal PAS members and sponsors to thank for it.”

The performance is this year’s Betty Clark Memorial event. Other sponsors are Socorro Springs Restaurant and Brewery, IRIS-PASSCAL, WESTAF and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Tickets are $16 for adults, $14 for seniors and $8 for youth 17 and under, and are available at the N.M. Tech Cashier’s Office (second floor of Fidel Center), Brownbilt Shoes and Western Wear, Burrito Tyme Drive-up or at the door.

Before the concert, Tech Club-Club Macey holds a social in the Macey Center Galena Room from 5 to 7:30 p.m., and at intermission, with African-themed appetizers. The clubs present is social hours for people 21 and over. There is a $5 cover charge for non-members.

–NMT –

By Valerie Kimble/New Mexico Tech

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