The music industry in Gabon is undoubtedly male-dominated. A few women have, however, been able to make their mark in the industry through hard work and perseverance.
Women in the music scene
The most successful women in the music scene are mostly those performing afro-zouk or pop music. They share their daily lives as modern women through their music, including, for instance, their passions and love stories. Examples include Arielle T, Nadège Mbadou, Angèle Assélé, Macy, and Audrey.
There are also the guardians of traditional modern music, which include Patience Dabany, Nicole Amogho and Amandine amongst others. These women harmoniously blend vernacular languages, traditional tones and modern rhythms in their songs. Unfortunately, artists performing traditional modern music are disappearing from the music scene, with the genre losing popularity among young people.
Finally, there is the generation of urban music: the RnB rappers and singers, who are much more popular among young people. They can be heard in all major music concerts, cultural evenings and night-clubs. Their impact on young girls is undeniable, especially in fashion. Their songs are also widely shared on social networks. The prominent urban music artists include, Shan The, Tina, Vicky, Moon, Euphrates, Leint's de Gloire and Princess Zalang.
Music management and production
A few women operate in the field of artist management. In Gabon managers serve as the legal representatives of their artists, managing their careers, negotiating their contracts and advising them in their choices and direction.
Magali Palmira Wora is one of the most prominent female figures in artist management in Gabon. She works with numerous artists including Movaizhaleine, Naneth (finalist at the Prix RFI 2005, Best Central African Artist Kora Awards 2005) and the gospel singer Mélina Ondjani.
Wora regularly provides training workshops on artistic management in order to put her experience and educational tools at the disposal of cultural operators in Gabon. She has paved the way for a young generation of managers in the hip-hop and urban dance genres illustrated by Denise Maningault (Koba, Kifr, I Jey-Respect), and Fiurella Theodosius (Urhican, Unknown Dimension) to name a few.
Turning to music production or arrangement, the situation remains the same. Women are rare at best, and non-existent most times. Top production labels like Direct Prod, Eben Entertainment and Negr attitude are all managed by men, the same with studios of note like Studio Kage, Afj Productions and Eben Studio.
Vicky Rousselot, a female rapper popularly known as “Vicky", is one of the very few females involved in music production
There are a few businesswomen who are influential in the industry. The likes of, Sandrine Itou-y-Maganga, who has provided exceptional support to cultural activities and notable artists such as the singer Arnold Djoud and the rapper NGT.
Women are often missing from the strategic positions of the music industry in Gabon. One of the greatest difficulties is that women are put on the low rung of the totem pole. While a cultural manager masters objectivity, pragmatism and action, women are often believed to be characterised by their subjectivity, and sometimes passivity in time of action, or a lack of adaptation to ever-changing environments.
It is also difficult for some women to balance personal life and artistic constraints that may require long and late hours studios. This is very common in the industry.
In conclusion, there is no doubt that Gabonese women are present on the music scene. They, however, remain a minority in key areas in comparison to men. But, a new and more determined generation of women engaged in urban arts is emerging.