By Sweet Sound of Sunrise

Last week, I travelled to Ottawa for a few days to experience Canada Day in the capital city for the first time. As part of the festivities, there was an afternoon concert on Parliament Hill, where Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Queen Elizabeth II addressed the crowds. The concert showcased many Canadian acts, finishing off with the Barenaked Ladies, but one group particularly stuck in my mind.

They are called H’sao, and are a Quebecois music group whose members originally hail from Chad. Their music blends the traditional sound of their home country with soul and R&B, resulting in a unique and exceptional sound. The original four members – siblings Israel, Caleb, Taroum, and Mossbass Rimtobaye – performed first in their father’s church, and started playing outside the church in 1994. They were called hirondelle, meaning swallow in French, by their father. A year later, the band was expanded with the addition of Charles and Service Ledjebgue. They began calling themselves H’Sao – the H is for hirondelle, while the Saois a tribute to their ancestry. They relocated to Montreal, Canada, from where they have been captivating audiences with their harmonies ever since.

The sound of the band is very dynamic, and can lend itself to completely different moods. They can be light and playful, like in this song:

Baby Jolie – H’Sao
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qs9Vt_KiKPU]

They also have a more serious side, which is best expressed through a cappella, a style that H’Sao mastered long ago – they didn’t introduce instruments into their lineup until 2000.

Aimer d’amour – H’Sao
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=15wsYPAd2R4&feature=related]