H’Sao opened their performance up with an energetic a cappella piece that grabbed the audience’s attention at the Harrison Memorial Hall last Saturday. Throughout the rest of the performance the band both sang in a cappella and incorporated instruments to create a rich harmonic sound.
The four band members, consisting of three brothers and their family friend, grew up in Chad, a country in Africa. Band member Caleb Rimtobaye discussed growing up in Chad mentioning how, “singing a cappella was not a choice because we didn’t have instruments.” He went on to explain how it is part of the culture in Chad to sing, listing the many occasions in which song is incorporated including parties, births and funerals.
The band started to incorporate instruments after travelling to France about seventeen years ago. Rimtobaye mentioned how, “we always wanted to have instruments but we didn’t have them.” Despite acquiring instruments, the band still includes a cappella during their performances because they love it so much.
Once they had acquired the instruments, the band then had to teach themselves how to play. Rimtobaye explained there is no music school in Chad, so the band started by playing simple things and overtime improved. He mentioned how, “Everything was about the voice and then the instruments came slowly in.”
Caleb Rimtobaye added that the band is also very happy to be in Canada stating that, “we have a chance to travel easily, because in Africa that is not the case. You can have money to buy a ticket but it is hard to have a visa to travel. This is the reality of young people in Africa.” The band travels to help others know about Chad, which Rimtobaye described as basically, “an unknown country in Africa, that has a different reality.”
However, Rimtobaye still expressed how despite drawbacks such as the need for travel visas, Chad still has, “joy and happiness.” He voiced how the band feels, “so blessed to do what we do now, it’s a change for us to travel doing this music and to share our country with other people.”
The band has started writing their next CD that they hope will be ready by the end of the year. They are planning a tour of Europe, allowing them to continue to share their country.
The band’s name H’Sao is the combination of two meanings. The H, stands for Hirondelle. Rimtobaye defining Hirondelle as, “a swallow,” and that, “in the bible the swallow is the little bird that tried to reach mountains and go very high.” Sao, is the name of the very first Chadian people. Rimtobaye stated that the band has a mission to, “share the new face of Africa because a lot of people don’t know about Africa.”
During their performance H’Sao encouraged their audience to get up to dance and sing, which many audience members did joyfully. They finished the night off with another strong a cappella piece after the audience demanded an encore.