Yves Elisee Samuel Akowendo, best known as Elisee Akowendo is an Ivory Coast-born, Tel Aviv, Israel-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, who grew up in a very religious and very musical home. “I come from a Christian family where music has a very important place,” Akowendo says in press notes. “Every morning, noon and evening, we sang gospel songs.” And as a boy, a young Akowendo discovered his love of rhythm as a drummer at his local church’s youth band, which paved a way of a lifelong passion for music. “I was constantly listening, composing and singing,” the Ivory Coast-born, Tel Aviv-based artist explains in press notes. Interestingly, as the story goes, Akowendo’s church group was invited to tour Israel — and while on our, he realized that he had to make a life altering choice: continue pursuing a master’s degree in business or follow his lifetime dream of becoming a professional musician. The Ivory Coast-born, Tel Aviv-based artist decided to follow his dream and remain in Israel.
Understandably, the transition wasn’t easy for Akowendo as he didn’t speak or understand Hebrew; however, his church and a growing ex-pat Ivory Coast community provided him with a great deal of support. “I met great people, made new friends, and hoped that maybe here I could live from music,” Akowendo said in press notes. Within a short period of time, Akowendo crossed paths with APE Records producer Tamir Muskat, who had discovered the Ivory Coast-born, Israeli-based musician and his band Groove Ambassadors on YouTube. As Muskat recalls, “I was surfing through videos and became mesmerized by this amazing African drummer. Then I saw him jump out from behind the drum kit, and grab the mic. It blew me away. I knew immediately that I wanted to work with him.”
Muskat connected with Akowendo and played him some beats and the duo just immediately connected over music and their mutual passion for creating music; however, for Akowendo, he hadn’t written lyrics before and it was a major challenge for him — an his latest single “I Dey Shina” is the first time that the Ivory Coast-born, Israeli-based artist has written lyrics. And interestingly enough, while he admits that he feels equally comfortable singing in French as he does rhyming in English, much of his latest single is sung in his native dialect, Baoule. “Sometimes it’s easier to express certain emotions in your native language,” he explains of his decision to sing in his native tongue.
Considering the embittering negativity of our world, the song manages to convey an infectious and much-needed positivity; in fact, as Awokendo explains the song was about him looking at his life, seeing how he was living his dream — and thanking God for the fact that he could actually live his dream, while showing others that sometimes we need to be reminded about how we should grateful for what we have. But he also adds that the song also suggests that if you have a dream that you shouldn’t give up on it; that we should invest as much positive energy as possible into our dreams every single second of every day. Additionally, he goes on to say that he hopes to pass along a much bigger message into the world — that we can all live together in peace, if we love and help one another.
Emphasizing such an infectious and positive message is a club-banging production that sounds as though it draws from British grime, soca and industrial electronica as it features stuttering drum programming, hot flashes of hi-hat, some metallic clang and clatter and ambient electronics with an anthemic hook.
Directed by Bonamaze, the recently released music video also radiates a infectious positivity as it features the Ivory Coast-born, Israeli-based artist singing and dancing with an international crew of dancers, complete with bright colors. And honestly, it’s just a ton of fun.