Adventures in Afropea, Vol. 1Zap Mama is an all-female a cappella quintet founded by Zaire native Marie Daulne. Daulne’s father was killed during the revolution of 1960 while her mother was pregnant with her, so the remainder of the family fled to the forests and found refuge with a tribe of pygmies. Daulne was raised primarily in Europe, but when she heard a recording of traditional pygmy music at age 20, she decided to return to Africa to learn about her heritage.
She was trained in pygmy onomatopoeic vocal techniques before returning to the West to found Zap Mama. Her group blends world music styles from all over the globe with little, if any, instrumental or percussive backup other than what group members can do with their voices and bodies. Their 1993 debut, Adventures in Afropea, became the biggest-selling non-compilation album in the history of Luaka Bop Records, helped in part by an opening slot on that summer’s 10,000 Maniacs tour. A year later they released a follow-up, Sabsylma; 7 followed in 1997. A Ma Zone appeared in 1999. Zap Mama returned to Luaka Bop for 2004’s Ancestry in Progress. Supermoon was issued by Heads Up in 2007. The group evolved around Daulne into an increasingly more pop-directed world beat configuration, and while Zap Mama may have lost a few of their more traditionally focused fans in the process, the infectious persuasiveness and danceability of the later era version of the group brought in just as many again. ReCreation, a perfect example of the sort of global urban tone Daulne had been grafting into the group’s DNA, appeared in 2009.