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MAYA KAMATY performs the song "ANSANM" for BalconyTV.
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Maya Kamaty plays 'Ansanm'

Part of a series of special episodes from JodhpurRIFF -

28 year old Maya Kamaty comes from a family of artists, musicians and story tellers settled now in the Reunion Island. Her family is of Indian origin, though the search for her family's roots (where in India exactly) still continues. Her father, Gilbert Pounia, is the lead singer of Ziskakan, one of the most famous maloya bands to emerge from Reunion.

Maloya (and its sister form Sega) is a kind of traditional folk music of Reunion, a French island in the Indian Ocean. It has its genesis in the music of the slaves, who were brought to the island from Africa. The songs are sung in French-creole and have sparse instrumentation - mostly percussion and voices in call and response.

Due to its heavy political themes and its association with creole culture, the French government banned maloya till 1981. But, despite a long period of government censorship, maloya continued to thrive, thanks to the efforts of its practitioners, prominent among them Firmin Viry, a former plantation worker and singer.

Throughout the eighties, groups like Ziskakan and Baster have been combining maloya with other genres like rock, reggae and jazz. The folk music genre remains a means of protest even today given the high rates of unemployment in Reunion and dissatisfaction with the French government.

It has also seen a surge in global interest in recent times with artists like Danyel Waro and Christine Salem gaining international popularity. In 2009 Maloya was declared an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity of UNESCO, for France.

Kamaty left Reunion for France in 2005 to pursue studies in Cultural Mediation and Communication at Montpellier. While there she rediscovered her Réunionnaise identity and met Carlo De Sacco, founding member of the group Grèn Sémé, who encouraged her talent. Since her return to the country, she has opened for Ziskakan, singing solo. Now Kamaty wants to expand the scope of maloya through her music. Her music is a blend of traditional maloya and French chanson. So it uses maloya instruments like the kayamb and rouler with modern influences. Her band comprises Moana Apo (drums), Stephan Lepinay (keyboard) and Kilik (guitar, ukulele). Kamaty is working on her first album which will be released in 2014 and has released an EP, Ansanm, this year.

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An Oijo Production

Sound - Kavi Bhansali/Raghav Suthaud

Mix - Raghav Suthaud

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