I grew up in a musical home in Germany, where I started to play piano at age 7. My father Jürgen, himself an avid music lover and piano player, took me to my first Jazz concert at age 14: Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers. I was struck with awe, as I suddenly realized that all the rhythms I had drummed on the kitchen table since youth were part of my African heritage, deeply hidden in my soul. Since then, I travelled the world discovering the many aspects of African music. AFRICAN SOUL, my own brand of blending Jazz and traditional West African music, was born in Abidjan, Ivory Coast in collaboration with the now world renown balaphon player Aly Keita from Mali.
Living in Paris, France for 10 years, playing simultaneously with African American Jazz musicians and singers, African bands, Salsa and Brazilian orchestras shaped my versatility, and my first CD AN AFRICAN In PARIS reflects the deep musical experience of my artistic immersion into the African Diaspora.
Travelling for 6 years with Miriam Makeba opened my eyes to another aspect of music: Advocacy! Makeba was an icon of the struggle against Apartheid in South Africa, and used her voice very effectively to advocate for social justice. The concert at the Vatican for Pope Jean Paul II on Christmas 1995, in which I arranged her song “When I’ve passed on” for the Philharmonic Orchestra of Rome 12 hours before the performance, is definitely one of the highlights of my musical career.
In the last 35 years, I had the privilege of performing and recording with many great musicians and singers, amongst them Aly Keita, Talib Kibwe, Miriam Makeba, Hugh Masekela, Jose Boto, Paco Sery, Loalwa Braz, Rie Akagi, and composed and arranged for many recordings and projects, especially in collaboration with Tommy Snyder under the Hayama label. My two first albums AN AFRICAN IN PARIS (1997) and MALIMBA MUSIC IS HOPE (1999) are some of the first albums produced for HAYAMA. Tommy ushered in a fruitful collaboration with ALTUS FLUTES, Japan .
Inspired by the traditional flute players from Dogon, Mali, I developed a rather personal and distinct Flute style (listen to the introductions to St. Thomas and Dogon on my debut album An African in Paris).
Even today, I am still learning from the vast array of styles that historically came out of Africa and transformed the world: I play new instruments, write new songs, incorporate traditional instruments into new musical formats and express my own mixed cultural heritage through my personal musical style: AFRICAN SOUL
And the story continues: My sons LEO ANIABA (with his band Achille’s family, Paris) and LAMI (with his project LAMI and the Syndicate, Los Angeles) are expanding musical horizons, exploring new areas of creativity.
Music is one of the best platforms to bring people from different backgrounds together, on and off stage. My mission is to use music to point the world to God and gain a deeper understanding of who we are as humans.
"Only if we increase the knowledge about our neighbor through genuine compassion, can we tear down the idols of division and hate erected by ignorance" (Makinto)