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Gitara Gasy

"In 1981, Dida saw me practicing my own style before rehearsal. Regis saw me too and told to me not to show my style yet. I decided to start helping my mother in finding more money for the family because life was hard, so I settled down in Tana as a mercenary guitarist. Dida really made me who I am today. When I played as a mercenary, I just played and whenever there was a little bit of money I sent it back home to Betroka."

"One day, I went to Maroantsetra on tour with Feon'ala and four of us decided to stay on. For six months (1986-7), although we were given shelter, food and everything, we just didn't get anything out of it. So I went home by boat until I got to Tamatave. The moment I came out of the boat, Dida spotted me from his car despite my dirty, peasant look (since I came all the way from the countryside). Dida asked me why was I still a mercenary? I said because there was nothing else to do."

"He then offered me his little studio, lent me his Takamine guitar, gave me food, shelter, took care of my health and even let my brother stay with me every now and then. Dida was my saviour! He ordered me to stop working as a mercenary and work on my own style in his studio every day."

"Later, Tsilavina [a future Minister of Arts & Culture] and Vahombe made an exhibition of AIDS awareness in Tamatave. They talked to Dida and arranged for me to go to Tana. Me, Ricky and Vahombe recorded two songs at Discomad. Dida persuaded me to record because he said people did not know my songs yet so it was important that I did so. Stephane de Comarmond [head of Discomad/ Mars] was so surprised with my songs that he requested me to make a whole cassette, so I made Alatsao Balansy. That cassette was the first recording under my own name."

Released locally under the name Garry, 5 tracks from it would later appear in France on the 1992 Buda CD Musiques De Madagascar.

This feature first appeared in fRoots 178, April 1998


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