Thierry Nkeli Faha

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 23 June, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 23 June, 2005, 12:00am

Saturday, 7pm, Life Cafe

One of West Africa's upcoming music stars is returning to Hong Kong to thank the city for giving him his big break.

A year ago, Hong Kong was wowed by the soulful voice and protest songs of Thierry Nkeli Faha, who was invited to the city after the director of the Alliance Francaise was impressed by the talent of the young musician from Togo.

Faha came to the city to record his second album, Avanyo (Togoian for 'everything is going to be all right').

'I was wondering before I came to Hong Kong whether I could meet musicians who could get into my singing,' Faha says.

'I was surprised to meet very good musicians here who had jazz as their main inspiration and who could easily catch my feelings and were able to record this album in an African spirit.'

Faha collaborated with a backing band that included a Senegalese, a Briton and a Hongkonger. The recording was picked up by radio stations across West Africa and he's spent the past year touring the region.

For Faha, who records and promotes his albums himself, the job is a simple one. The music industry is in its infancy in Africa, but he has only one goal. 'Music is to be shared,' he says. 'So, the more you travel to show it, the better you accomplish the mission of spreading your message.'

His message is one of peace, hope and justice, and he draws heavily on the ancient tribal teachings of his homeland.

It's something he learned from his grandfather, who was a village griot, or wandering wise man.

'What's important for people in Africa is the message,' says Faha. 'I sing about love between mankind, hope and nature, and I insist on the importance of tradition, recalling to people that progress is impossible without referring to our ancient teachings.'

10 Shelley St, SoHo, $150 (includes African meal). Inquiries: 2810 9777