Julia Autio, music pedagogue and trainee in Villa Karo

I have been lucky to follow the work of one real artist from Grand-Popo who is currently living in Salo, Finland. His name is Gildas Houessou but he uses GLDS as his stage name. The first time I had a chance to hear a few songs from his album ‘Grand-Popo-vi’ was in Ouidah the 10th of January. I already realized that what I saw on the stage was pure enjoyment and one big love of music.

Then a few weeks later I wanted to see his concert in Comé and there I really didn’t refuse to dance. Trying to shake my chest and shoulders like a real African dancer I might have looked more silly than authentic but I really had a good time in Comé! Even though the electricity went off during the concert, the rhythm continued thanks to the djembes, and the artist took advantage of the situation by singing acoustically. The flashlights lit the stage and the crowd.

Respect! Photo by Tuomas Uusheimo

One week later Gildas had a concert again, this time in Villa Karo, Grand-Popo. The concert was one of the biggest for the artist and the public even had the honour to hear two national hymns, Finnish and Beninese! To boot, the director of Villa Karo, Kwassi Akpladokou, gave a speech on the stage! Such a great evening full of love and music and not to forget that this concert was free of charge for everyone as it is a style in Villa Karo’s events.

At St. Valentine’s day there was still another surprise to come in Agoué. A group of Finnish musicians came to play with Gildas and their performance was like a refreshing breeze to the ears! Eight young talents playing African rhythms with djembes and congas acoustically! Such great solos and mutual understanding in the playing! Congratulations Heviosso, it was wonderful!

Later on, there was still Gildas’s concert and he didn’t let the public down this time either. A great atmosphere in the concert place full of people singing along with the artist, and Gildas didn’t loose his energy even in the end. If something should be criticized, the volume was way too loud for my ears.

Many many thanks to Gildas and his group for letting us enjoy his music! You shouldn’t miss this man’s concerts in Finland either!

Gildas ja Heviosso-group from Salo, Finland. Photo by Julia Autio