14 September 2005

Cameroon: Claude Ndam : Committed To Culture

Uses traditional and modern melody to preach peace and freedom.

The over 50-year-old Claude Ndam is a household name in traditional music in Cameroon. The uniqueness of his musical style has spanned through the 25 years of his musical career. Influenced at the time by some musicians such as Pierre Akendengue, Miriam Makeba or James Taylor, Claude Ndam decided to follow their foot steps, though introducing some specificities. First of all, he ardently learned the guitar. Added to that, he paid greater attention to the promotion of the national culture through the use of his native Bamun language. He showed much engagement in the musical field by singing in cabarets. The year 1990 marks the professional independence of Claude Ndam with his first album entitled "U Nguo ya", which means " Where are you going to?", hit the markets.

When asked to describe the type of music he plays, Claude Ndam said, "It is a mixture of traditional and modern melody with the use of modern instruments." The messages conveyed in his songs are mainly based on love, peace and freedom. His second album carrying 10 songs and entitled "Pawa" came out 10 years after the first one. Questioned on that long absence, he replied that, his songs carry deep and important messages which need to be well studied, and the melodies well arranged before being proposed to the public.

Claude Ndam's musical style having been adopted and loved worldwide as the years passed by, he used this opportunity to undertake a series of concerts in countries such as Gabon, Côte d'Ivoire, Belgium and France. Claude Ndam said his main difficulty is the fact that, the general public takes years to understand the deep message in his songs. "This difficulty is linked to the fact that my musical genre is not common." he said. He is however happy to see that today, musicians like Donny Elwood, Koko Ateba and Ottou Marcellin are choosing this genre. His greatest joy remains that of being appreciated by people even out of the country.

In order to consolidate the promotion of the national culture, Claude Ndam offers training classes in singing, guitar and musical arrangement. He is as well engaged in humanitarian activities, and in this connection,works with the Ministry of Public Health, the Ministry of Culture and other organisation. To this he adds the pleasure of gathering art object.

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