The Victory Riders

Greetings Brothers and Sisters of this Earthly Experience!

“Hokahey, today is a good day to die!”

Crazy Horse, the famous Lakota Sioux resistance leader shouted these words as he and his men went into battle, giving his life, for their people with honor. To me, these words are an affirmation that we are part of a much bigger picture, deeply connected and ultimately all one…

Here today in these seemingly uncertain times, I see the Victory Riders as musical warriors in the spirit of Crazy Horse, where our only “weapons” are our musical instruments and our voices. Our intention is to deepen our awareness of this connection that we share as earth dwellers through music.

So with this in mind I’d like to introduce you to my beloved band, who have been on the road with me since the “hall of mirrors” adventure. I recognized them as Victory Riders.

First of all there is Jerome Degey (a.k.a. Jeronimo), who is the Orchestra Director and has done most of the arrangements of my music since we met many moons ago.

Last year Jerome produced my new record with me. We worked on it in Brazil, the States and in our studio in the south of France. It’s been super exciting to write songs together, and explore new musical territories differently.

His culturally mixed upbringing opened him to many different styles of music and enabled him to develop a vast adaptability and profound sensitivity.

I’ve seen him playing virtuoso all over, brazilian music deep in the favela, jazz and soul in NYC clubs, country folk with my Dad on the front porch, cuban music, african music… even with an oriental singer in Lebanon!

Jerome breathes, speaks and writes music fluently (playing guitar, bass, bouzouki, cavaquinho, banjo, and slide dobro), but he’s very shy and likes to linger in the shadows.  So if you really want to spot him, then you have to wait till it’s very dark, come out to our next show and you might just hear his beautiful enchanting playing.

He is a kindred spirit and we have a special connivence that is very precious to me.

Then came brother Philippe Aglae. We developed over the years a very special connection, and he’s become a pillar of our creative team.

He’s a most unique individual, full of super ideas, energy, theories, music, and of course an incredible voice! As they say, they truly broke the mold when they made him!

With his impressively vast knowledge of traditional music from around the globe, his deep gospel experience as a choir arranger/leader and his Caribbean roots, Philippe knows the power of the voice and the importance of creating a soulful, dynamic dialogue.

I love watching him get everyone to participate in a song, it really adds another dimension to his rich, expressive style…

On stage Philippe has been expanding his possibilities, as he adds more percussion to his artistic purpose and design. I sense that what we see of Philippe’s talent today is just the tip of the iceberg…

On gospel and blues vocals, percussion and dance, watch out brothers and sisters for the beautiful Princess K-Rolyn’ Loïal, (I call her a Princess as I learned in the jamaican tradition…).

Being from Guadeloupe and drawing much musical inspiration from her rich heritage, K-Rolyn’ is a fire ball of energy, rhythm, singing and dancing like a queen, she always has a wise “island saying” to illuminate every situation.  She can get a belly laugh out of the driest person, yes, she’s very talented with quite a few more tricks in store for us down the line, I’m sure…

Now we head a little further down south and come to my sweet Ney “Bahia” Veras, from where? Bahia, Brazil of course! He comes from a family of 27 brothers and sisters in the heart of Salvador de Bahia, most of whom are professional musicians! Imagine that!

He plays many instruments, drummer by trade, but when he plays as a Victory Rider, he plays the mandolin like a devil, guitar, and endless percussion instruments…

Beside the music, he can cook up one of his famously spicy recipes from Salvador de Bahia and you’ll be instantly transported right to the white sand beaches of his homeland singing to Yemanja!!! Speaking of Bahia, Ney’s family had the Victory Riders stay in their home where we played music till the dawn…

Right across the ocean, back to Africa. All the way up to Algeria, here we find Latabi Diouani on the drums, djembe, congas and other percussion.

He’s hard to miss! Not just a drummer, he’s into “high style geek drum gear” that eludes me completely, but he loves what he does and you can feel it when he grooves…

He can play all kinds of music, from Mississippi to Bamako!

Latabi has been the prized drummer of worldwide african artists like Toure Kunda, Angelique Kidjo or Souad Massi so I feel very lucky that he is with us! Rough at first, Latabi is a real teddy bear, he keeps us laughing in the tour bus so we all know that he could always shift his career as a stand up comedian!

I’d also like to say a few words about the beautiful spirits who’ve joined up with us on this new album.

It’s been quite serendipitous too, because, in a way, a couple of years back, I met Philippe Aglae, thanks to Julia Sarr. Julia is an incredibly beautiful, soulful singer and songwriter from Senegal, with a majestic voice that has no borders. Julia’s magical stage presence puts her in high demand all over, much like her sister soulmate Olyza Zamati.

Both of them have worked extensively with Oumou Sangare, Salif Keita, Youssou’n’Dour and many others.

Years back I had the pleasure of meeting Olyza (working on an american project with Wasis Diop and Mama Keita), and Olysa’s gorgeous fresh, spirited voice made me cry. When K-rolyn’ couldn’t make it for a concert with us, my sister Olyza came for a few shows, it was really great to have her talent with us…

Then there is the sweetheart Ze Luis Nascimento from Brazil, an incredibly intuitive and artistic percussionist with no boundaries! No style can stop Ze Luis, he plays with Gypsies, traditional Pakistani Sufis, African, Latin, Cape Verde musicians, etc… With his very personal approach, he brings to each style a new and different atmosphere that illustrates wonderfully the musical message…

Always enthusiastic and game for musical adventure!

One of the most recent kindred spirits to join us is our space cowboy David Picard, playing bass, guitar and singing harmony on stage. With his kind rooted personality, he naturally fits right in as a Victory Rider. Although he’s from a part of France best known for its wine (Bourgogne), David is our true expert in Salsa and Latin music, and has dedicated his life to playing, producing, and arranging all kinds of music with soul.

The Victory Riders are a moving clan, open to include different people… Won’t you come along with us on a musical journey, a “walkabout” throughout this wild planet we call home as musical family.