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This article was published 29/8/2016 (327 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Music has the power to transcend language, and Winnipeg-based bilingual singer-songwriter Kelly Bado understands that first-hand.
Bado is originally from the French-speaking country of Côte d’Ivoire in West Africa and writes the majority of her songs in her native language (though some Spanish and English lyrics are also included). She moved to Winnipeg in December 2007 with her sister to further her studies abroad, and thought Winnipeg, with its strong francophone community, would be a great place to start.
"I have fans who don’t understand my French songs, but they like the songs just the same," she says. "I guess the melody sort of transcends when you sing with passion."
Bado’s passion for her craft is immediately evident in her pristine yet textured vocals, which soar over melodies peppered with elements of folk, soul, R&B and world music. Her lyrics and delivery are deeply emotional, touching on topics that vary from love to social and political commentary; the singer devotes personal time to charitable work for a variety of causes, both local and abroad.
"I believe music is essential to people’s lives," she says.
"I am always passionate about making a difference through music. The song On n’a pas fini is talking about this crazy world we live in. I often dedicate it to lost lives in any sort of unfair attacks, kidnapping… in particular, the young girls kidnapped in Nigeria (by militant Islamic group Boko Haram). Sad events we have been witnessing these past years."
Bado got her start singing in choirs as a child in Côte d’Ivoire and began writing songs in 2006 when she lived in Morocco. She continued her songwriting in Winnipeg, seeking out a church community when she arrived in the city (she now sings at Springs Church as part of the praise and worship leaders’ team), as well as getting involved in the local music scene through organizations such as Le 100 Nons (a not-for-profit organization that works to promote francophone artists) and Manitoba Music.
As she began to find her feet as an artist, she also started entering different songwriting contests. The first two she entered yielded encouraging results — she placed first in both the Manitoba Star Attraction Talent Showcase and Découvertes manitobaines en chanson (a showcase and competition for emerging francophone artists in Manitoba), and her song Africa, a tribute to her homeland, won the SOCAN Best Song Award at the Chant’Ouest competition in 2013.
"At that point (the contests) sort of elevated me to a semi-professional level," Bado says. "I started to travel for music and that was quite exciting. I was not completely ready, so I worked even harder to level-up myself, build up a website, write more songs, (build) a social-media presence."
Bado is now preparing to release her first EP, a six-song collection titled Entre Deux, which she says could either be translated as "between two worlds," as she crosses between both world music and folk, or "between you and I," as in the confession of a secret shared between two people.
"It talks about different sorts of love," she says of the EP. "Love of my homeland (with the) song called J’y retournerai, meaning ‘I will go back,’ heartbreak (the negative side of love), healing after a heartbreak (a song called Le temps), love of music (the French/Spanish song La musique) and how we need love in this crazy world (On n’a pas fini d’aimer)."
The release of the EP will be celebrated at the Good Will Social Club on Sept. 25, though ticket information has yet to be released. Bado will also be the first artist to participate in the new Sunday Brunch Collective series presented by the Free Press. The event takes place Sept. 11, with Bado performing two sets — one at 10 a.m. and one at 1 p.m. — as attendees enjoy brunch at the Kitchen Sync (370 Donald St.) prepared by renowned local chef Ben Kramer.