The realisation of a musical dream:
Erick Manana is one of the most important composers of Madagascar. The internationally-renowned singer and guitarist has lived in France for nearly 30 years and has a reputation for preserving the musical traditions of his home and furthering their development by combining tradition and cosmopolitan influences. A child of Madagascar’s highlands, Erick Manana was influenced mainly by the sounds of the "hira gasy” - the still-vital, national educational and circensic music theatre of rice farmers with its striking accordion, violin and brass band sounds and incomparable vocal harmonies. Even as a child he could not help but run after these musicians.

These same sounds also enchanted the ears of German ethnomusicologist and classically-trained violinist and flutist Jenny Fuhr. Since then, she has gone on a long musical journey, exploring and researching Malagasy rhythms whilst also living out the Malagasy oral music culture of “lova-tsofina” as a violinist, flutist and singer with Erick Manana. Since 2009, the two musicians have played extensively as a duo.

Madagascar has been shaped by many waves of immigration over the centuries, creating a musical landscape that sounds familiar and yet foreign to Western ears. Together Erick Manana and Jenny Fuhr founded the "Madagascar Roots Band" in 2012 to track down and present this fascinating musical blend. For this, they teamed up with six musicians who alongside their different individual instrumental skills have in common a great love and attachment to the traditional musical styles of their home country as well as great curiosity about other musical cultures.

The repertoire of the “Madagascar Roots Band” ranges from very delicate, almost chamber-musical, lyrical songs to tropical grooves and fast dance pieces, with rhythms from all regions of the Big Island. The ensemble scours the treasure chest of traditional melodies and rhythms of Madagascar, bringing them into the present and connecting them with the creative individual playing styles and musical virtuosity of the group’s musicians. These eight share a love of musical detail and precision, prizing arrangements that showcase individual instruments as well as ones which blend them into an expressive whole. The delicate and silvery sounds of the bamboo zither valiha combine with subtle and sometimes fiery percussion and accompany virtuosic flute melodies and runs. Accordion tones caress the warm and close voices of both violin and saxophone. Erick Manana and Jenny Fuhr take over these two intense voices with their singing, and tell stories with their songs. They are supported by the strong male voices of the other musicians, creating a charming and powerful island polyphony that speaks straight from the heart.

In May 2012, the band made its first major appearance in Antananarivo, at the Palais des Sports with 8000 spectators, followed by the Olympia in Paris in January 2013, and the Chamber Music Hall of the Berlin Philharmonic in May 2013.