Baka Beyond - Fact Sheet
Baka Beyond have sold almost 1/4 million copies of their 5 previous studio albums worldwide. Their 6th album, “Rhythm Tree” is to be released in March 2005.
The first 4 albums were released on Joe Boyd’s Hannibal label. When Joe left Hannibal Baka Beyond released albums on their own label, March Hare Music.
Baka Beyond tracks are often heard on TV soundtracks, particularly in nature programmes on BBC and Channel 4. They also appear on several Putumayo compilations.
Baka Beyond have built up a formidable live reputation playing in many countries. The band have headlined the Vancouver Folk-Roots Festival; played at WOMAD in the UK, USA and Czech Republic; Musica Mondial in Sao Paulo, Brazil and many more festivals in the UK, USA, France, Holland, Belgium, Germany, Italy, Spain and Portugal including the Jazz Stage at Glastonbury Festival
Baka Beyond have been nominated for the BBC Radio 3 World Music listeners awards.
Set up Global Music Exchange, a registered charity (number 1057668), in order to get royalties due to the Baka Pygmies back to them. Global Music Exchange have since undertaken several projects including:
Getting ID cards for the Baka – In Cameroon it is obligatory to possess an ID card for which you have to pay. Without a card you can be arrested, with one you have to be treated as a Cameroonian citizen and you have certain rights.
- Distrubuting basic essentials such as cooking pots, machetes, tools, soap, salt etc.
Helping with basic medicine – organising surgeries and paying for medicines needed as a short term help. In the longer term Global Music Exchange is building a surgery and helping train a Baka in basic medicine, while encouraging the use of traditional medicine where appropriate. They are also forging links with other organisations working with healthcare in the region
Helping the Baka set up an association, Gbiné, giving them official recognition. This has now been copied by Forest Peoples Program with a group of Banjelli Pygmies in Congo.
Teaching the Baka to build a Music House where Gbiné can meet, and they can perform to their Cameroonian neighbours
The musicians in Baka Beyond are from 6 different countries in Africa and Europe:
Guitar, mandolin, percussion and producer
Cornish father, Welsh mother, grew up in Kent, now lives in Bath.
After several years surviving by busking round the world and playing with many musicians met on the way he pioneered World Music fusion in 1988 with didgeridoo player Graham Wiggins in the band “Outback”. Founded “Baka Beyond” after visiting the Baka Pygmy hunter-gatherers in the Cameroon rainforest in 1992 with his wife Su Hart. He regularly returns to Cameroon and stays with the Baka in the rainforest to oversee charity projects and to get further inspiration from playing plenty of music with them.
British, grew up in Gateshead, Tyne & Wear, now lives in Bath.
Grew up singing in church and clubs singing many traditional Geordie songs (from Newcastle/Northumberland). Survived by busking, played in several bands and travelled extensively song gathering before living with the Baka and learning from them. Apart from singing in Baka Beyond she teaches children and adults about the singing of the Baka.
Paddy Le Mercier
Violin, whistles, bombarde (traditional Breton reeded instrument)
Originally from Brittany – the Celtic part of France, grew up in Paris & now lives in Toulouse, France.
Played on first album, Spirit of the Forest, and has been with the band since the beginning.
Played with French Folk-Rock band, Malicorne as well as Outback and Baka Beyond.
Met Martin while they were both living in Oxford in the early 1980s and they have played together ever since.
Percussion (djembe, sogo, ning nong, kongoma)
Grew up in Freetown, Sierra Leone
Came to UK as a theatre and dance performer in 1987. He founded Kabudu dance company and has worked extensively in UK in African Dance and education.
Joined Baka Beyond in 1997 and is influenced by the street culture of Freetown and the Mendi culture of Sierra Leone.
Percussion (djembe, panlogo, sogo, tama, calabash) kora (African Harp)
Mother from the Cissokho family of griots from Mali
Grew up in Ziguinchor, Casamance, southern Senegal.
Nephew to Solo Cissokho with whom he also regularly plays
Martin met him in Ziguinchor but it was not until he moved to UK in 1998 that he joined Baka Beyond.
Although he is the percussionist with Baka Beyond he is also a skilled kora player, playing solo concerts at WOMAD in Australia and Singapore as well as supporting both Salif Keita and Youssou N’Dour when they came to Britain
From Douala, Cameroon, now lives in London.
He played his way across Central, West and North Africa until he came to Britain in 1992. He has worked extensively in both the London and Paris Afro-Jazz scene, backing many big African stars when they visit Europe.
Has been playing with Baka Beyond since 1998 and links Baka Beyond to the spirit of Cameroon.
From UK, lives in Bristol
He joined Baka Beyond in 2000 at short notice when their Senegalese drummer was refused a visa just before a national tour. Before then he had already enjoyed a varied playing career with session credits that include Oscar-nominated animation, Welsh-language folk music and TV drama. He has recorded dozens of albums for many different artists and toured extensively with, among others, cult favourites Stackridge and jam-band pioneers Daily Planet.
Singer, dancer, Percussion
Father Jamaican, mother British
Grew up in Midlands, UK
Has studied dance in UK & Ghana as well as with the Baka in SE Cameroon.
She joined Baka Beyond in 2000.