Coen Welsh | Nov 14, 2017 | 0
A taste of Angola at the Warehouse Theatre
Hailing from the province Kwanza Norte and having grown up in Luanda, Hélder Mendes has been influenced by musicians such as Youssou N’dour, Angélique Kidjo, Salif Keita, Waldemar Bastos, Baaba Maal and Filipe Mukenga. Mixing different genres and singing in Portuguese as well as various vernacular languages, Mendes has two albums under his name, “Okwaba Africa” (‘African Beauty’, 2006) and ‘Vumbi’ (‘Spirit’, 2010), both recorded and produced in Spain. This talented young singer and songwriter has performed in Spain, Belgium and France, apart from Angola. This is his first tour through southern Africa. At five years of age in Ndalatando, the capital of Kwanza Norte, Mendes already showed his love for music. The artist comes from a family of musicians, his paternal grandfather was composer and singer in the Methodist Church and his aunts also sang in a church choir.
One of his aunts decided to teach him a Congolese song in Lingala. At the time he was only six years old and walking in the streets of Ndalatando practising what his aunt had taught him. Despite some flaws, he rehearsed every detail without rest and one day while singing on the the side walk, a saleswoman overheard him, called him and asked him to sing a bit for her. “It was my first performance, but, as I sang, I noticed she laughed a lot, which made me uncomfortable, not knowing if I made mistakes or spoiled the charm of the song. The truth is that I got some galetes (biscuits) that she finally offered me as she had been moved by my performance and I walked away with an air of winning “ he said.
The singer’s life was taking its first steps leading to the beginning of a musical career, but in 1992, the military tension in Angola forced him and his family to flee to Luanda. In the capital, the young singer did not relinquish his desire to become an artist. At the age of sixteen he composed his first song which he recorded in a home studio located in a school. He then took his song to radio stations in an attempt to have it broadcast to the public, but the stations claimed poor sound quality and voice pick-up. These were rough times for the artist but that did not stop him from pursuing a career in music.
His efforts were rewarded when he met a lady that helped him get a recording deal. He believes that the sky is the limit and goes by the motto “Persistence is the mother of all virtues”.