SEYDINA INSA WADE (pronounced Saydeena Ansa Waad) was a monument of modern Senegalese music, and a songwriter whose lyrics and melodies have influenced all of Senegal’s major artists. Some names who come to mind are Youssou N’Dour, Baaba Maal, Ismael Lo, Les Freres Guissé, Pape and Cheikh, as well as more recently a new generation of rappers including his nephew El Hadji Man, of the group Daara J.
Born in Dakar, 1948 into a Lebou fishing family, Seydina grew up in the popular quarter of Gueule Tapée near the port of Soumbédioune. Seydina refers to the Gueule Tapée area as the “Harlem of Dakar”, where most of the well-known musicians were born and bred in the neighbourhood, including members of the Orchestra Baobab, Charley Ndiaye and Abdoulaye Mboup. In 1966, his next group “Calypso” made their debut appearance at the famous Festival Des Arts Nègres, organised by President Léopold Sédar Senghor, which welcomed musicians and artists from the diaspora.
Seydina established himself as the pioneering voice of Senegalese folk music sung in Wolof. His lyrics raised controversial social issues that were prevalent at that time such as circumcision and slavery. But the songs including his early hit “Khandiou” were also charming portraits of Senegalese life and its people, sung with style and humour.
The high point of Seydina’s early career was the formation at the beginning of the 1980s of the group TABALA, an acoustic trio which included the talented young guitarist Oumar Sow, and a promising percussionist called Idrissa Diop. Those who attended their innovative shows agree there has not been an acoustic group to equal them before or since.
An album called “Yoff” was recorded, and a patron, Eric Sylvestre, organised a tour of France, Switzerland and Italy. Subsequently, Seydina Wade and Idrissa Diop stayed in Paris where Seydina spent six years with the group Xalam II in the esteemed company of the legendary musicians: guitarist Cheikh Tidiane Tall, keyboard players, Henri Guillabert and Jean Philippe Rykiel, and fellow singers Coundoul and Souleymane Faye. Their innovative blend of African music and jazz makes a significant contribution to the story of modern Senegalese music.
The CD “Xalima” (pronounced “Halima”) also reunites Xalam II members Seydina Wade, Souleymane Faye (“Samme”) and Jean Philippe Rykiel. Jean Philippe Rykiel will be well known to African music fans as the arranger on Salif Keita`s album “Soro”. It includes the Frédérick Rousseau/Seydina Insa Wade collaboration, “Ginkgo Biloba”.
From the mbalax rhythms of “Mag du Caaxaan” to the dance grooves of “Ginkgo Biloba”, Seydina moved with the times to create memorable tunes and audacious arrangements which assured him his rightful place in the galaxy of contemporary Senegalese stars. He will be sorely missed, and as the contemporary takes a leap into the post modern and the ages pass from present to past, he will always be remembered.
Seydina Insa Wade is a Blue Pie Records USA artist and is published by Blue Pie Publishing USA (ASCAP).