Afro-pop comes to Tech’s Macey Center Jan. 25

........................................................................................................................................................................................

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 New Mexico Tech Performing Arts Series season.

Submitted photo: H’sao kicks off the Performing Arts Series calendar year of programs.

The five-piece ensemble H’sao kicks off the 2013 PAS calendar year with a performance at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 25 at New Mexico Tech’s Macey Center.

“As promised, this year’s PAS 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 PAS director Ronna Kalish. “As such, we’re delighted to have H’sao on our performance schedule, and I know audiences will agree.

“These singers and musicians fuse many of the elements identified with traditional African music with gospel, rhythm and blues, jazz and soul.”

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 (French Cultural Center) 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.

That August, the band members settled down in Montreal. From then on invitations started pouring in: Montreal 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.

“And, once again, we have our loyal PAS members and sponsors to thank for it,” she added.

Tickets are $16 for adults, $14 for seniors and $8 for youth 17 and under, and are available at the New Mexico 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. TCCM is a social club for people 21 and over. There is a $5 cover charge if you are not a member of TCCM.