Francine Martel is the founder, artistic and musical director of Takadja. Born in Québec City in 1957, she has been playing drums and percussion for 20 years.
She made her first trip to Africa in 1980 where she discovered the vast number of polyrhythms that would become an inexhaustible source for her passion of drumming.
Francine has been awarded several grants from the Canada Arts Council and the Québec Arts Council, with which she has travelled to West Africa and studied with the most reputed percussionists and drummers of Guinea, Ivory Coast and Sénégal. It was in 1986, during a stay in Ivory Coast that she met Sékou Camara 'Cobra' who would become her drum master.
As a result of her talent and wide knowledge of various rhythms, Francine has been invited and consequently toured, appeared on television and recorded with many artists such as Johanne Blouin, Richard Séguin, Karen Young and Michel Donato, Marie-Denise Pelletier, Paul Horn and many other jazz, pop, new age, and world beat groups. As a composer, Francine has done the musical arrangements for several recordings and composed music for documentary films.
Through Takadja, Francine is able to express and live her passion for African music as well as to bring together the best African and Canadian talent.
Oumar N'Diaye is an acrobaticdancer,
choreographer, percussionist and singer. He shares
the artistic direction of Takadja with Francine Martel.
At 19 years old, Oumar was recruited as danceractor for the national troupe Les Grands Ballets Africains of the Republic of Guinea, where during seven years he completed his artistic training in dance and music and toured in Europe and Africa.
At the age of 26, Oumar left Guinea to establish himself in Abidjan (Ivory Coast) where he joined the Kotéba Ensemble of Abidjan. He acted and danced in the feature film La vie Platinée and choreographed the many dance sequences. He also toured in europe with that group and performed in shows with Salif Keita and Ismaël Lo. In 1989 he finally decided to move to Europe where he started teaching dance and performing with various groups. In 1992, Oumar moved to Montréal and joined Takadja with whom he performs now as a dancer and a percussionist. He also teaches dance classes in Montréal and Québec City.
Robert Lépine was born in Chicoutimi, Québec in 1952. He won a first prize in percussion from the Québec Conservatory of Music and holds a Masters Degree in music (xylophone and percussion). He studied balafon with Umaro Diabaté from Guinea-Bissao and Naby Camara from Guinea. in 1974, Robert founded the group Répercussion with whom he has toured internationally and recorded several compositions inspired by a multitude of international cultures. Robert has played djembé and balafon with Takadja since the beginning of the group in 1989.
Naby Camara was born in Kantely, Guinea in 1962, in a griot family and grew up in a traditional music environment. His father was a balafon player and his mother a singer. He learned to play the balafon with his older brother, Lanassy Camara, at the age of 7.
In 1970, he started performing in traditional fiestas and soon after became the official balafonist of the Fédéral troupe of Conakry for many years. In 1980, he was recruited by the Grands Ballets of the Republic of Guinea as solo balafonist and started touring all over Europe.
In 1990, he moved to the Netherlands to play with Fatala, an established African group and toured with them in Europe and America for three years. In 1993, back in Guinea, he recorded an album with Les Grands Ballets Africains. Naby joined Takadja in 1994. .
Youssou Seck was born in Dakar, Sénégal in 1965. Youssous family descends from a long lineage of griotscast responsible for passing down the oral and artistic tradition. At a young age, he was initiated into the Woloff musical tradition by his uncle, Diangana NDiaye.
A specialist of the mbalax music, Youssou moved to canada and joined Takadja in 1992 where he plays mainly the kenkeni and dundumba drums. he also plays accoustic guitar and senegalese drumsnder, mbeng, lamb and xin. Besides playing percussion, Youssou is a comic actor and an inexhaustible storyteller.
Nathalie Dussault was born in Montréal in 1966 and has been playing the cora for ten years. After being initiated to the cora by Younoussa Cissokho in 1984, she continued studying with Boubacar Diabaté until 1990. After receiving a grant from the Canada Arts Council in 1993, Nathalie went to Africa to perfect her art with master musicians Foday Kalissa from Guinea and Toumany Kouyaté from Sénégal. Nathalie joined Takadja in 1992.
Alassane Fall was born in Yoff, Sénégal in 1963. He started off as a percussionist to finally join up with the group NDew. While playing with that group, he developed an interest for the guitar and after several years played guitar and sang for N Dew. Alassane moved to Montréal in 1993, where he has been performing with many groups ever since. He joined Takadja in 1995 as a guitarist, singer and percussionist.