- Category: PA 2007
A musician as well as a poet, Danyel Waro is probably the most famous maloya singer of Reunion Island. Sega, a traditional Indian Ocean dance rhythm, is internationally known, but few people outside the island of Reunion have heard of maloya.
Maloya is a compound rhythm on which plantation workers have long been singing their joys and woes. It's a sort of Réunionese blues. Waro, living in the middle of sugarcane fields high up in Saint-Paul, is probably the most famous maloya singer of the island, singing maloya in creole and with traditional instruments, including the kayanm, a flat instrument made from cane flower stems and filled with saffron seeds; the bob, a musical bow attached to a calabash for resonance (Reunion's version of the umakhweyana bow); and the rouler, a big drum made from barrels with a cowskin head.
Waro's approach to Maloya is poetic and varied, rhythmically abundant with both binary and tertiary forms, and the evident commitment to his deeply felt political convictions gives his music a genuine quality that comes straight from the heart.
Waro speaks of love death or politics, using a popular, peasant vocabulary that his urban listeners have often forgotten, creating unexpected, beautiful and powerful imagery and, most importantly, articulating the convergence between words and music that makes great songs. Waro comments: “For me, maloya is first of all the word.”