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Marie Daulne, the founder and fronting member of ZAP MAMA since the early 1990s, has lived a life that rivals Homer's Odyssey. Filled with peril and triumph, globe-spanning quests, and a series of personal achievements that seem almost heroic in scope, her story is one of epic proportions in the annals of world music. Born in the Congo, but raised in Belgium, Marie spends her life crossing continents and winning the hearts of thousands of fans, while introducing her musical heritage to the world and uniting musical cultures through the wonders of voice, music, and dynamic performance.
After studying painting and art history in high school and college, Daulne made a pilgrimage in her late teens back to the land of her birth. In doing so, she reconnected with the pygmy culture, and discovered that the African music of her early childhood was still very much alive within her.
The resulting experience, she recalls, was nothing short of an epiphany - one that changed the course of her life. "That was when I became a musician," she said. "When I went to the Congo, I hadn't thought of being a musician. Not at all. But I was there, and I was standing in the middle of the forest, hearing the music that had been a part of my earliest memories, and it was like an illumination, like a light."
In 1990, Daulne assembled four other vocalists and created the first incarnation of Zap Mama, an all-female a cappella quintet, or as The New York Times called it, "a utopian multicultural dream." Adventures in Afropea I, the group's 1993 debut recording on David Byrne's label, Luaka Bop, wove together music from Zaire, Tanzania, Syria, France, and Spain. Afropea became the biggest selling non-compilation album in the history of the Luaka Bop label and reached No. 1 on the Billboard World Music charts.
The follow-up album, Sabsylma, came a year later and earned Zap Mama a Grammy nomination in the Best World Music Album category. In 1997, the group signed to Virgin Records and released their third album, 7, a recording aimed at a more mainstream audience by incorporating elements of R&B and pop, and a cover of Phoebe Snow's "Poetry Man." The exploration continued with the release of A Ma Zone, a 1999 release on Narada. After a four-year hiatus, Daulne returned to Luaka Bop for the 2004 release of Ancestry in Progress. This album also earned Daulne another No. 1 spot on the Billboard World Music charts.
Over the years, Zap Mama has morphed from an a cappella quintet into the creative vision of one woman surrounded by talent from nearly every corner of the musical landscape. In the process, Daulne has toured the globe in support of her music, with legendary performances at the Montreux and New Orleans Jazz Festivals, the UK's Glastonburry Festival, the WOMAD festivals in Adelaide and Singapore, Coachella Festival, Austin City Limits, Roskilde, and the Blue Note Festival in Tokyo. Daulne's music has also been featured in numerous films and television shows, including Mission: Impossible II and most recently in an episode of the popular series, So You Think You Can Dance?
In addition to her role as an artist and performer, she has devoted much of her time and energy in working to protect human rights and fight global poverty with organizations such as Amnesty International, Médicins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders), CARE, and the United Nations.
Marie Daulne opened a new chapter of this continuously unfolding story with the August 7, 2007, release of Supermoon, Zap Mama's debut recording on Heads Up International. "With Supermoon, I reveal the way I chose to live when I started my career," says Daulne. "It's very intimate… You're seeing me very close up. I hope that's a kind of intimacy that people will understand. I'm opening a door to who I am."