Popular music in Mauritius

In Mauritius, international and Bollywood hits cohabit with sega, seggae and other variants of the local music.

Désiré François and the group Cassiya. Photo: ipreunion.com
Désiré François and the group Cassiya. Photo: ipreunion.com

Disque de l’année competition

The Disque de l’année (Record of the year) competition, where the winner is announced as the clock strikes midnight on the 31st December, has been part of the folklore since the 1980s. This is through the initiative of the national Radio and Television, the Mauritius Broadcasting Corporation

Many Mauritians tune to the four radio stations of the country which unveil the titles selected as "Song of the year" by the listeners. The contest is awarded in three distinct categories: International, local and Bollywood, which highlights the musical preferences of Mauritians.

‘Lean on me’, ‘Di Pain Griye’ and ‘Baaton Ko Teri’

Mauritians move to different rhythms, from the latest international hit to sega and commercial Bollywood hits. Hence, on Top FM in 2015, ‘Lean on me’ of Major Lazer and Dj Snake was selected as best international song and ‘Baaton KB Teri‘, from the movie ‘All is well’, was selected in the Bollywood category.

The local electro track ‘Friends’, a collaboration between the singer Laura Beg and DJ Jimmy Gassel, won the grand title.

 

On Radio One and Radio Plus, sega prevailed with Désiré François and the group Cassiya with the song ‘Di Pain Griye’. One of the great revelations of the year was the Creole reggae song ‘Sirmonte’ of The Prophecy.

Mauritius, by being exposed to major international trends through media and Internet, remains particularly sensitive to the latest international hits.

At the end of August 2016, the weekly ranking of Radio One indicated that the auditors’ favourite songs were: ‘Aloha Møme’ of Ft. Merynn Jeann, ‘Company’ of Justin Bieber, ‘Perfect strangers’ of Jonas Blue Ft. JP Cooper and ‘Laisse-Les Kouma’ of Zaho F.

20 years ago, the archives of the magazine Scope mentionned local preferences as the following: ‘Noire La Rivière Noire’ of Ravanne Sans Frontières in the local category and Wanna Be’ of the Spice Girls in the international category.

Seggae

Mauritians prefer popular music to other musical genres. Rock, blues and jazz have a more elitist following evidenced by the concerts and festivals around these genres that are often hosted in private venues restricted to the public.

Classical music taught at the music conservatory is also deemed elitist like the genres above, and it is therefore not popular with the general public. As for techno and electro, they remain very present in nightclubs and are favoured by a younger audience. 

Reggae has deeply marked a generation. Bob Marley, Alpha Blondy and Tiken Jah Fakoly are very popular in Mauritius.

A new genre, seggae (a fusion of reggae and sega), emerged in the 1990s, with Kaya and Ras Natty Baby. The genre has had a real cultural and social impact in the country and has paved the way to new experimental music with groups like the Otentikk Street Brothers.


Revalorization of typical sega

Mauritian sega has been recognized by the UNESCO. This traditional Mauritian music was built around the ravanne (instrument), and has evolved with artists like Abaim, Lespri Ravann, Menwar, amongst others.

Mauritian sega has been evolving since the 1980s, through a faster tempo and the introduction of instruments like the guitar, drums, keyboards, etc. 

In the 1990s, the group Cassiya brought a new sound to traditional sega.  They have been touring the Indian Ocean, Africa and Europe. 
 


20 years later, their song ‘Di Pain Griye’ has had a resounding success.  

Colonized by France and then by England before gaining independence, Mauritius inherited the French and English musical tastes. English and French songs are very present in the musical landscape. The connoisseurs are still clinging to the great classics whether it is Piaf, Brel or Moustaki while the new generation are familiar with the repertoire of emerging French singers.

A few months ago, the French artist Louane performed at a sold out show as part of her tour promoting her latest album Chambre 12. There was a lot of enthusiasm around concerts given by Kendji Girac, Calogero and Francis Cabrel who performed for the fifth time in Mauritius in 2016.  

In 2016, the concerts of Frédéric François, Alain Souchon and Laurent Voulzy were major events in Mauritius.

Bollywood footprints

In August 2016, the Bollywood rising star, Palak Muchhal, known for hits like ‘Prem Ratan Dhan Payo’, ‘Chahun Main Ya Naa’’, Dekha Hazaro Dafaa’’, JabTum Chaho’ or ‘Teri Meri Kahaan’, performed at a sold out concert. These Hindustani songs feature on the soundtrack of famous Bollywood movies and are popular in Mauritius where the Indian culture is intrinsically linked to that of Mauritians.


Taught in cultural centres, traditional oriental music is quite popular but not as much as Bollywood soundtracks. Playback singers like Sunidhi Chauhan or the trio Shankar-Eshaan-Loy are popular in Bollywood and their concerts are generally sold out shows.

After the concert of Francis Cabrel, Shafqat Amanat Ali, son of the legendary Pakistani singer Ustad Amanat Ali Khan, performed in Mauritius singing some of his songs that have earned him several awards in India.

New genres have emerged in Mauritius over the past few years. Mauritian music is the bridge between the continents where traditional instruments meet African and Asian instruments.  


Source:

Cultural Magazine Scope: http://www.lemauricien.com/scope

Radio One: http://www.r1.mu/

MBC (Mauritius Broadcasting Corporation): http://mbc.intnet.mu/

Top FM: www.topfmradio.com/

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