Julien Ernest Philéas, more commonly known as Granmoun Lélé was born in the Beaufonds neighborhood in Saint Benoît on February 28th, 1930 from a mixed mother from Madagascar and an Afro Indian father. Influenced by his grandfather, Lélé started singing in pubs and that’s when everything started for him. Following his father footsteps, he started working as a metal worker, then as a “patron cuiseur”. He’ll go on to write more than 200 songs based on his factory days, on his family, on his father’s religion who was a dancer, on love and servis kabarés. He was well known in those servis where he brought his children along, he recorded his first album titled “L’autonomie” in 1974. In 1981, the new government lifted the ban on Maloya that is growing popular, and the band performs in small gigs in the east. But Lélé’s career truly took off after he retired from the factory where he worked for thirty two years. In 1992 “Musiques Métisses of Angoulême” founder Christian Mousset, was blown away by the artist and flew him and his band to the city for a series of shows. It was during that time that they recorded their debut album “Namouniman”. They embarked on a tour in France and throughout Europe until 1995, that’s when he recorded his second album “Soleye”. A French tour with guests (New Morning, Zénith, Divan du Monde Passage du Nord-Ouest – with Césaria Evora, Maurane among others) and in the rest of the world is lined up; in Scandinavia, Japan and North America. “Dann Ker Lélé”, the third album is recorded in mainland France in 1998, which was followed soon after by another tour in more than ten African countries and in India. What most impressed the national media was the truthfulness in his music since several newspapers and renowned journalists interview him: Jean Louis Foulquier, Radio Tower, Le Monde, Libération (which gave him a “Choc de la Musique” award). He was knighted by the city of Angoulême with the Ministry of Culture, M. Douste-Blazy. He started recording his last album in 2003 with help from his friend Eusèbe Jaojoby; together they covered “Namouniman”. Since 2004, children his work by making covers that influenced their own songs. On December 20th, 2008 in commemoration of the abolition of slavery, the Saint Benoît Conservatory was renamed Granmoun Lélé Center to remember Julien Ernest Philéas.
For many years now, the artist’s children have came together as Groove Lélé in order to pass on his family, cultural and musical heritage through Maloya. They performed concerts, artistic residences and “Trans-Maloya” expositions portraying the artist’s photographs. Talent workshops were set up including culinary skills, instruments manufacturing, debates, interactive conferences (Maloya history and its instruments), singing, and dancing and percussions workshops. It’s a duty to his ancestral memory with the diversity that comes from the diversity and uniqueness of the island’s blend of cultures. The educational workshops lasted between 30 and 60 minutes and were open to everyone from daycare children to high school with specialized associations (physically and mentally disabled). Artists also performed musical tales to toddlers and seniors.
Groove Lélé is composed of nine musicians: Willy Philéas, Fabrice Lambert, Judicaël Vitry, Marie-Claude Lambert, David Doris Yéléna Lambert, Jioty Lambert, Fred Barbe and Mathieu Antaya. This band makes up Maloya’s traditional music.
Another more Africa centered is put forward with collaboration from prestigious musicians from the Indian Ocean region: Téta, Thominot and Kirasoa. Whichever direction Groove Lélé chooses, whether traditional with classic sounds or Magalese, as when their father was alive, their shows are often followed by talent workshops: music, cooking, dancing, singing, traditional instrument manufacturing. Each generation passes that knowledge just as Granmoun Lélé wanted. Still influenced by indian culture, Maloya tied in well with cello, piano and Senegal’s wolof songs shaping a blend of cultures form different horizons: a musical zembrocal. It’s a traditional dish from La Réunion made with several ingredients such as rice, grains, and spices. It boldly brings culture, indian and ancient classic songs.
UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage:
Since October 2009, Maloya has been inscribed on the representative list of UNESCO’s intangible cultural heritage. It has its roots in slavery; it contributed to national identity and shows the fusion of culture through time. Groove Lélé is proud of their heritage as was their father and take it on themselves to be the spokeperson of their culture, their dialect and their history. That’s what great men fought for.
Roulers, cale-roulers, sati and stand, kayambs, doum-doum + morlon, kongas, tumba, quinto, djembés, four indian drums (tapous), triangle, tarlon, bells (none of them require sound equipment).
Thanks to our partners, the band members’ plane tickets are paid for (except Ernst Reijseiger and Téta’s band) for Réunion/all contries. Only in-house trips, accomodations and meals are at the host’s expense.
Please, for any questions go to CONTACT.
Live performances in Madagascar, Réunion, France and the Netherlands: