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BEBEY Francis

BEBEY Francis

Oeuvres en tant que compositeur: 2

Oeuvres en tant qu'arrangeur: 0


Francis Bebey was born in Douala in July 1929, into a large family where his father, a pastor, struggled to feed his children. But Francis had the opportunity to go to school. Admiring his elder brother, Marcel Eyidi Bebey, he educated himself, distinguished himself, and eventually received a scholarship to go and take his baccalaureate in France.

We approached the end of the 1950s when he arrived in La Rochelle. More than ever, in this France where Africans were looked at with curiosity, condescension, or disdain, Francis relied on his intellectual resources. A diligent worker, he obtained his Baccalaureate, then moved to Paris where he started English studies at the Sorbonne. One day, he knew what truly attracted him: he wanted to do radio. Francis learned his craft in France and in the USA.

After working for a few years as a reporter, he was hired in 1961 as an international civil servant in the UNESCO Information Department.

In parallel, Francis had always been drawn to musical creation. His very serious daytime activity didn’t prevent him from frequenting jazz clubs in the evenings. In Paris, the Jazz, the trendy music of that time, but also rumba and salsa attracted him. He collected records and attended numerous concerts. With his accomplice Manu Dibango, Francis took the stage and played music.

Francis liked classical music since his childhood. He grew up listening to the cantatas and oratorios of Bach or Handel that his father had sung in the temple. He became passionate about the guitar, impressed by the Spanish and South American masters, and decided to learn to strum the instrument himself.

He started composing guitar pieces, blending the various influences that flow through him with the traditional African music he had carried within since childhood. His approach captivated the director of the American Cultural Center (then located in the Saint-Germain neighborhood of Paris), who offered him the opportunity to perform in front of an audience. Francis gave his first guitar recital there (1963) in front of a mesmerized audience. His first solo album was released shortly thereafter.

Gradually, Francis became recognized as a musician and composer. Several albums of the African guitar ambassador, as described by the press, were released. He also wrote books, to the point that his artistic career became challenging to reconcile with his career as a civil servant. In 1974, even though he had become the General Manager in charge of music at UNESCO, he took the bold leap and resigned from this prestigious institution to dedicated himself to the three activities that interested him: music, literature, and journalism. 

He explored the traditional musical heritage of the African continent, notably through the thumb piano sanza, and the polyphonic music of the Central African pygmies, or singing in his native language and composing humoristic songs in French!

Success followed. Francis Bebey traveled the world: from France to Brazil, Cameroon to Sweden, Germany to the Carribean, or Morocco to Japan... the list of countries where he was invited to perform, gives lectures, or meets readers is very long. In addition to public recognition, he enjoyed the recognition of his fellow musicians, such as guitarist John Williams or Venezuelan Antonio Lauro, who invited him to be a part of the jury for a classical guitar competition in Caracas.

His life was the journey of an African pioneer, a man rooted in his cultural heritage and carrying a message of sharing and hope for the world. His originality continues to vibrate around the world since his passing at the end of May 2001.

Oeuvres de l'artiste

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    ÉlégieBEBEY FrancisIntermédiaire - Guitare seule5.35$ | DO 1522
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    The Magic Box
    The Magic BoxBEBEY FrancisIntermédiaire - Guitare seule8.56$ | DO 1500