Release Date: May 19, 2009
Record label: Asthmatic Kitty
Guitarist, singer, and songwriter Hermas Zopoula is the youngest of 36 children from Yoro, in Burkina Faso, West Africa. His father is the Sissali griot Gouaka Djoua. Espoir is his debut album, the result of a chance meeting, between Canadian visual artist (and Asthmatic Kitty "friend") Jonathan Dueck and his wife Heather while the couple were visiting Burkina Faso from late 2005 through mid-2006.
“Comparisons to singer/song-writer Seu Jorge are inevitable,” insists the publicity page at Asthmatic Kitty’s website. They’re not. This mild-mannered singer from Burkina Faso with his soukousish sweetness sounds nothing like Seu Jorge. “Other audible influences in Hermas’ music are Afro-pop pioneer Thomas Mapfumo, King Sunny Ade, and Toumani Diabate’s Symmetric Orchestra.” You’re just pulling names out of a hat here, aren’t you, Kitty people? Come on, you seriously are.
Burkina Faso is not exactly front and center on the world music map – in fact, most non-Africans would probably be hard pressed to find it on any world map. The French colony of Upper Volta until 1984, the country is crammed into the bulge of West Africa, surrounded by (clockwise) Mali, Niger, Benin, Togo, Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire. Primarily agricultural, with no access to the sea, Burkina Faso is one of the poorest countries in the world, with somewhere between a fifth and a quarter of its total population living as émigrés.