Gwen & Tiana: African Time (UBU0022)
Gwen & Tiana" is an Afro-jazz and soul duo. Their music is cadenced by the union of their two remarkably powerful soulful voices. A blend of numerous styles, their hybrid music is an alchemy between an energetic African rhythmic and Afro-European Jazz sounds.
DÉBUTS ET CARRIÈRE
In 2012, Gwen and Tiana officially became a duo. It was organic, evident, as if the tandem were destined to shine under the spotlights.
The general public discovered the two artists on the stages of various gospel and soul concerts across Europe, where they performed both as backing vocalists and lead singers. Those tours led them to share the stage with renowned artists such as Derrick McKenzie (drummer for Jamiroquai), Ledzek Mozdzer and Martha High (ex- backing vocalist for James Brown) and to sing on the musical stages of the Cannes Film Festival.
2014 was a turning point in Gwen & Tiana’s career. The duo sought to create a repertoire reflecting its image and its identity. It was the beginning of a process of reflection, of research and experimentation that led them to become, a year later, musically mature and to affirm a shift to an Afro-jazz and soul repertoire.
« We wanted to go beyond soul music, which has always been an important part of our artistic expression. Exploring African culture enables us to create connections, to build bridges between Africa and Europe, throughout our musical mixture that has the taste of our own influences ».
Africa is a continent that Gwen & Tiana know very well. Gwen, who is from Gabon and Togo and Tiana, whose roots are in Cameroon and Madagascar, both left their countries over ten years ago to develop their knowledge of music – respectively in a prominent jazz school in Montpellier and at the Conservatoire de Musique in Lille – and to start an artistic career on stage.
A RETURN TO THEIR ROOTS
In 2015, Gwen & Tiana crossed the path of the jazz guitarist Femi Temowo – whose references include Amy Winehouse, Gregory Porter or even George Benson – and their career gained new momentum. Familiar with Afro-European sounds, the Nigerian/British artist had no difficulty to understand the spirit of the duo and where Gwen & Tiana wanted him to take them in terms of expression and experimentation.
An artistic collaboration started and it was dynamic. A few weeks later, Gwen & Tiana decided to go to Poland, a country they knew pretty well, in order to find a work space where they could produce their first EP.
« We discovered Poland during a Gospel tour back in 2014. It was love at first sight! During that tour, we met excellent Polish musicians and they are now working with us on our first EP. »
Throughout 2015, Gwen & Tiana travelled back and forth between Switzerland, where they lived, and Poland, where they worked on the songs of their debut album.
« During that period, we were working with Femi Temowo and Polish musicians who helped us in the creative process. Our goal was to create a music that is entertaining, simple, warm and most importantly, heart-warming ».
The EP is a poetic and melodious break with an unusual Afro-soul rhythm and it should be released in September 2016. It is a foretaste of the upcoming album produced by Femi Temowo and that should be presented in spring 2017. Its songs will be disclosed to the publics of the Montreux Jazz Festival, the Verbier Festival in Switzerland, and during the duo’s French tour in October 2016.
ABOUT GWEN & TIANA
Tiana grew up in Cameroon, lulled by the Jazz and Soul music her parents would listen to. She developed her passion for music at a very young age, when she studied the classical piano. Her growing curiosity led her to join African and Gospel choirs. Guided by her love for music, during her graduate study, she was part of several musical shows and even wrote and staged a musical. After graduation, she entered the Conservatoire de Musique de Lille where she developed her musical knowledge.
Ever since he was a child, Gwen had been immersed in the effervescent world of gospel music, a few years before he discovered soul music. His first steps as a music professional were made in Gabon, where he worked with gospel artists from his area. Then he went to France where he gave new impetus to his musical career. He worked with many gospel artists and together, they toured France, Holland and Germany. Then he joined a jazz school in Montpellier (Ecole de Jazz et de Musiques Actuelles) in order to improve his skills.