H'Sao

hsao.ca

Montreal-based band from Chad H’SAO has been capturing the hearts of small audiences and large crowds alike. The band has always been passionate about sharing its unique blend of modern sound and traditional African musical influences. H’SAO has traveled the world, delivering electrifying performances, launching four innovative albums and, most of all, developing a musical signature that spans several genres and thus transcends the “world music” category.

At first, voices–but what voices!–were their only instrument. Then, brothers Caleb (guitar), Mossbass (bass) and Izra L (keyboard) along with their childhood friend Dono (drums) added musical instruments to their rich and inspired compositions. Today, the self-taught musicians continue to weave the impressive a cappella harmonies that made their fame into their powerful live performances. These seasoned musician-singers have stayed true to their roots, drawing from gospel, soul, R&B, reggae and Chadian music. The result is as skilful and heartfelt as it is unique.

Whether its style is labeled Afro-fusion or Afro-jazz, H’SAO is defined by the strength of its voices and vocal harmonies, its rhythms and its authenticity. Onstage, the band sets itself apart through energetic performances, punctuated by catchy choreography and warm interactions with the audience. This distinctive presence was sought by prominent festivals here and abroad, such as WOMAD (New Zealand), Brisbane Festival (Australia), Queensland (Australia), Vancouver Folk Music Festival, Francofolies, Luminato (Toronto), Montreal International Jazz Festival, Nuits d’Afrique, Festival d’été de Québec, Coup de cœur francophone, Awesome Africa (Afrique du Sud), FrancoFête (Moncton). Not to mention many concerts in prestigious venues: Lincoln Center (New York), The Music Center (Los Angeles), The Royal Conservatory of Music (Toronto), Scène Bastille (Paris), BAM (Brooklyn Academy of Music), Joe's Pub (New York) and Stanley H. Kaplan Penthouse (New York). Besides touring Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia and the Americas, the band made appearances at several noteworthy events. H’SAO notably played before the Queen of England on Canada Day, at the Francophonie games, with the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal, at Québec City’s 400th anniversary and at the Governor General's Performing Arts Awards Gala.

Ten years after the release of its self-titled album and four years after Vol 235, the band launched Oria in 2013. The level of social commitment expressed on this third album was a tribute to the impressive journey that led up to its creation. Nominated for World Music Album of the Year at the Gala de l’ADISQ, Oria was an invitation to rediscover the boundless vocal talent of H’SAO and to experience a more subdued, masterful and varied instrumental universe. Its biting and poignant songs addressed peace, social justice, religion, love and other universal themes. The album propelled the band in Europe and North America, appearing on television (TV5Monde, RFI, France24), performing with Angélique Kidjo in Toronto, and receiving the ROSEQ/RIDEAU Awards, to name a few.

In July 2015, H’SAO released their fourth album, Saar, during the Nuits d’Afrique International Festival. This magnificent return to their roots was warmly welcomed by both fans and critics, in addition to receiving another ADISQ nomination. Opting for an acoustic formula (vocals, guitar, calabash, percussion), the band included a cover of the iconic song "Summertime" with singer Marie-Josée Lord – a unique version that created major buzz! New tours followed in Canada (British Columbia, Manitoba, Quebec, Ontario, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland), the United States and Europe. At WOMEX, H’SAO signed a representation agreement for France and Switzerland.

Inspired by their return to Chad in late 2017, where they emotionally reconnected with the audience of their native country, the band kicked off 2018 with some fifteen concerts. H’SAO is now thrilled to announced that they are putting together a brand new acoustic show, in the spirit of their latest album. This new live formula will allow the band to stand out even more on stage, with two very different types of concert for various occasions… in anticipation of the release of the band’s fifth album, which is already in progress!

Regina Folk Festival 2019. Be there.