Gladstone Hotel, Toronto
July 2, 2010
part of the World Music series co-presented by the Gladstone & Batuki Music
I actually dislike the term "world music", just because it's used as a fringey repository for anything that isn't part of the grand Anglo/North American empire, but in the case of Donné Roberts and his current musical direction, I'll admit it's hard to come up with a better term.
He was born Dieudonné Roberts in Madagascar, the name meaning God given, and I'd say it was quite prophetic in terms of his talent. He plays guitar with fluid ease, like it was part of him. At age 7, his diplomat parents were sent to Russia, where he'd spend the next two decades. He became the first African VJ on MTV Russia, hosting an hour long show for a couple of years before coming to Toronto in 1999.
Since then, he's made his mark on the city's music scene with his distinctive style and flair for creative collaborations, including as a member of African Guitar Summit. That group would go on to win a Juno in 2004, an award they'd be nominated for again in 2007.
His constant sense of exploration led him to discover Canada's Aboriginal music scene, and his current work is a collaboration with another Juno Award winner, Marc Nadjiwan. Marc grew up in a First Nations community in the wilds of northwestern Ontario, and his music is steeped in that culture although very much in a contemporary mode.
The results, as you see, are quite compelling and unique, using a blend of instrumentation; the styles converging seamlessly, like those African and Aboriginal melodies on guitar and voice, and the driving polyrhythms.
Donné Roberts - guitar & vocals
Marc Nadjiwan - vocals
Celina Caroll - shakers, berimbau, vocals
Walter Maclean - drums
Tom Sertsis - bass
Rich Howse - digeridoo, sax, flute