From Baobab Orchestra to Baaba Maal and from Salif Keita to Alpha Blondy, via Oumou Sangaré, Koffi Olomidé or Zaïko Langa Langa and so many other artists, African music is now mourning Ibrahima Sylla a few weeks after the death of Tabu Ley Rochereau, the king of of Congolese rumba, that star who was father of 68 children!
The famous producer Ibrahima Sylla died on December 30th, 2013 in Paris at the age of 57 years old after a long disease.
He was the manager of Syllart Productions. In thirty years, we counted a great number of talents revealed by his intuition.
The Senegalese Ismaël Lô would thank him to have made him discovered in the world. “We were only linked by a moral contract, and he told me: “Sama rakk, denga doff!” [” Younger brother, are you crazy or what! “] He forced me to sign with him! ”
He remains as one of the greatest African producers: “except for the rap that was not of his generation and he did not understand anything about it”.
The performance of this son of a religious dignitary of Senegal was not easy. He remembered in an article publish in Liberation magazine that he was slapped by his father at the age of 24 years old because he asked him money to launch his music career and his father no more talked to him during three years. ”
He was trained in the finance, and his father sent him to study management and law in Tolbiac in Paris.
He added in the same article: “what I understand mainly from my experience is that it is necessary to know difference in African cultures, the temper of various countries “.
After his certificates, he returned to Dakar with the firm intention to succeed in the music! He started producing with Francis Senghor, son of the famous president at that time. “I worked with Senegalese musicians who trusted me. My first production in 1979 was the one of Baobab Orchestra, a group of Senegalese salsa. It was a success, then l’Etoile de Dakar with Youssou N’ Dour, Ismaël Lô … I went back to Paris in 1981 because in Africa, the only music to which everybody was listening to at that time was the Congolese rumba. So Most of Congolese artists lived between Kinshasa and Paris. ”
His close friend Alain Josse was with him during all his professional adventure – They met during their studies at the high school Lamine Guèye (former Van Vollenhoven). He declared: “He kept eyes on all the music productions. He contributed in promoting the talented African musicians particularly Youssou Ndour, Ismaila Lô, Salif Keita, Baaba Maal, Coumba Gawlo Seck, Oumar Pène, Sekouba Bambino, Nando Da Cruz, Cabo Verde Show. He was the biggest African musicians catalog holder. It was a very great job he did which you can seldom find in the showbiz environment; he disliked smoking and drinking. Always courageous, he knew how to keep his heard in any situation and still believed in God. He was a great man.