My name is Menoosha. I have not been singing for as far as I can remember. I did not start singing at the local choir at 3. My father is not a pastor, my mother is not a choir director. Just to tell you how void of cliché my life is… I discovered my father’s vocal skills just about 10 years ago… And if you have heard him speak, you would be amazed by his punchlines. Quote me on this: my father can easily make Jay Z retire once and for all…
To introduce myself: I am this daughter of Cameroon who saw the light on a Sunday afternoon in Ivory Coast back in 1980. Jerry Curls were in, Bob Marley was big and Ted Turner started CNN. No better year to be born…
A singer aunt of mine introduced me to song when I was 8. I would listen to her vibratos and riffs all day while she would go about her daily business. I wish I had such a never-aging voice. Nobody sings like Bebe Manga, honestly. She told my mom that she would like to introduce me to a children’s choir after I told her I want to be her background vocalist. She even caught me drawing Tina Turner on a chalk board and thought at that point her move was right. This is how I got into “les Oiseaux Du Monde”.
We were the coolest kids in town. We stayed up late! We rehearsed, we toured inside and outside of Cote d’Ivoire. Jean Claude Gigot (our choir director & manager) wrote the songs we had to record. My mom would sew our stage clothes. Imagine her getting 30+ tailormade costumes for a bunch of naughty kids in a couple of weeks. Yep, that’s how fast my mom could work.
I have such fond memories of this stage of my life. I went through it all as if it was the most normal way of life. I did not realize what a blessing it was to have worked as a child with Boncana Maiga. To have met the likes of Meiway… To have joked around the members of Kassav… But most of all I have been blessed to have been on stage with Stevie Wonder and Kool and the Gang at Ndaya International in 1988. God has ways of giving you hints in your childhood about what He wants you to do when you grow up. In my case, I’m not talking about becoming a superstar; it’s more about allowing one’s self to be used by Music.
My teenage was great. Almost void of boy drama; my mom was extremely strict. But the talent shows and the church pageants gave me enough adrenaline rush. Could I complain?
Throughout my path I learned so much. I came to Germany in 1999. I bumped my head so many times, gave up, got back up, sped up, slowed down, and eventually found my own pace at some point. I met so many gifted people from whom I could pick up something to finetune my craft. Working with bands like US2U, Shebeen, Labana, the Wright Thing, ADDIV, Ladies of Soul and Moonbase (formerly known as TMC) shaped me into what I am today. Being on stage with Grammy award winning Gospel artist Phill Driscoll, Soul II Soul’s Melissa Bell and her X-Factor winning daughter Alexandra Burke gave me the motivation to always aim higher. Destiny even allowed me to open for Myriam Makeba and Lou Bega. No room for complaints.
Skoda (the car brand) chose me to record a song for their Superb model of 2009. I remember hearing through the grapevine that the then-marketing manager had ordered recordings from dozens of singers before me. Then he heard my take and went: “The voice I was looking for.” You can listen to Movin as One here.
2010 started on a great note for me. My second daughter was born, and I released my first album. I basically went to the studio every time I could between my job, my family life and worldly craze and literally expressed myself. Working on this album was therapy. I rediscovered my voice in its extremes: smooth singing, hard growls, flat notes, some bold riffs… I experimented with genres and styles without any compromise. The hard work paid off with a nomination for “Best African Artist” at the MP3 Music Awards in 2010, and one for “Best International Act” at the BEFFTAs in 2011. Listen to a couple of songs from “Satellite Brown Chick” right here.
At this point, I look forward to many more surreal and beautiful experiences to be thankful for. I am expecting more music, more healing, more elevation, more flat or shall I say blue notes? These are what make the melody of life so special.
Really, I can’t complain. God and Life are still being good to me.