Drawing from gospel, traditional African music, as well as their Chadian roots, H’sao display clear soul, pop, and R&B influences. All the members of this Montréal afro-pop group are singersongwriters; elements of their various influences are smoothly blended with African rhythms to create fresh songs in a unique style. Masterful a capella singing sets them apart on the vast soundscape of world music.
H’sao’s journey begins in their native Chad. Initially, the group is made up of the Rimtobaye brothers : Caleb, Mossbass, and Israel. Their father dubs them Hirondelle (‘swallow’) in honour of the birds that are always searching for higher ground; their first singing is done in the church where he is the pastor. Their first performance outside of church is in 1994, when they take part in the ''Fête de la Musique'', a presentation of the Centre Culturel Français (French cultural center) in N’Djamena. H’sao starts building their fan base at this first of a long string of shows. In 1995, Dono Bei Ledjebgue join the band and with his arrival the group takes on a new name: H’sao—H for hirondelle and Sao in honour of their Chadian ancestors.
In October 2000, as part of their first, ten-show tour H’Sao is invited to the Fest’Africa festival in Lille, France.
Soon after, they record their first demo and buy instruments with the earnings. Until now, they had been creating and performing beautiful music with only their voices. This lack of means had allowed H’sao to develop an original and unique style, as well as an impressive repertoire of a capella songs.
In March 2001, H’sao’s path takes a nice new twist when they are selected out of 18 other bands to represent Chad at the ''Jeux de la Francophonie'', to be held Ottawa that year. In July, H’sao wins a bronze medal at this large-scale event that gathers the world’s best francophone athletes and artists.
In August, the band members settle down in Montréal. From then on, invitations start pouring in and the gigs just keep coming: Montréal International Jazz Festival, Festival Nuits d’Afrique, Francofolies de Montréal, Festival des Musiques du Monde. Participation in the Bourse RIDEAU and CINARS events bring the band an opportunity to embark on a tour of 70+ shows across Quebec, Canada, and Europe.
In June 2003, the band launches their first album, H’sao, at the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal (Montréal International Jazz Festival).
In 2004, H’sao is awarded the Radio-Canada Étoiles Galaxie (Rising Stars) prize as part of the Vitrine de contact Ontarois.
In 2008, the band is nominated for a Band of the Year SOBA (Sound of Blackness Award).
Since then, H’sao has been all over the Canadian music scene:
- Francofolies de Montréal opening show;
- Quebec City’s 400th anniversary celebrations;
- Governor General Awards gala in Ottawa, where the band shares the stage with the right honourable
- Michaëlle Jean;
- Montréal Symphony Orchestra’s Week-end Pop, directed by Guy St-Onge, co-producer of Vol 235,
- H’sao’s second album.
After two critically-acclaimed albums including “Vol 235” release in november 2009, which was nominated for World Music Album of the year at the 2010 Gala de l’ADISQ, as well as an impressive concert series around the world (New Zealand, South Korea, United States, Colombia, Ireland, Australia), the Montreal-based band of Chadian origin H’Sao is back with a third album: “ORIA”!
Release in feburary 2013, wrapped up in jazz, rock and reggae atmospheres, “ORIA” reveals the band’s most socially engaged face so far. H’Sao sounds a cry of alarm through “ORIA”, which means “Are you fed up yet?” Their songs take a stand against many social injustices, urging humanity to keep working for a better world.
Moreover, the band stands out on the world music scene on account of their a capella singing, which has made them famous. Remaining faithful to the fusion of ancestral and contemporary Chad rhythms, “ORIA” is a prayer for peace, harmony, justice and love.
The Band is now back in the studio preparing a Full a cappella album for next year.